The Breadwinner is an animated drama film by Cartoon Saloon. It is directed by Nora Twomey and executive produced by Mimi Polk Gitlin and Angelina Jolie. Based on the best-selling novel by Deborah Ellis, the film is an international co-production between Canada, Ireland, and Luxembourg. Being animated is not my favorite type of movie, however The Breadwinner is one of the best animated films I’ve seen. First I saw Coco and it was my pick for the Oscar, but after seeing The Breadwinner, I changed my vote. Welcome to the real world with an animated feature that was significant and profound — it has a real message!
Parvana is a young girl living in Kabul, Afghanistan, under control of the Taliban. Her father Nurullah, who is a teacher handicapped during The Soviet–Afghan War and turned a hawker, is unjustly arrested after a volatile young member of the Taliban, Idrees, thinks he insulted him while the he and his daughter, Parvana are selling goods at the Kabul market. Parvana’s family is left without an adult male relative, as her elder brother Sulayman died years ago, leaving their family: Parvana/ Aatish (Saara Chaudry), her mother Fattema (Laara Sadiq), her sister Soraya (Shaista Latif) and her baby brother Zaki (Lily Erlinghauser) without means to support themselves, as they are not allowed outside their house without a male relative. After Parvana unsuccessfully tries to procure food while going out as a girl, she decides to dress as a boy and pretend to be Nurullah’s (Ali Badshah) nephew, “Aatish,” in order to support the family. Parvana frequently entertains Zaki by telling the story of a young man on a journey to retrieve the seeds stolen by the evil Elephant King.
The ploy works, and Parvana is able to get food and money. While working, she meets another young girl, Shauzia (Soma Bhatia), who is dressing as a boy to support her family. Parvana gets lots of advise from Shauzia who shows her how to make better profits to survive. On the advise of Shauzia, Parvana goes to the prison where her father is held in hopes of bribing the guards into letting her see him. The plan fails, and Parvana is driven away. She works to save money to get a larger bribe, taking on hard labor jobs with Shauzia, who is trying to save enough money to escape her abusive father.
The rest of this story really moved me to tears. The Breadwinner is a heartfelt story of how another part of the world is for a family and how suppressed women are under the Taliban. Parvana moves on to many adventures including trying to get her father out of prison. While I think Coco is an excellent, fun filled story, I think The Breadwinner is a story that needs to be recognized and seen everywhere. Kudos to Deborah Ellis for writing this beautiful story. If you haven’t seen The Breadwinner, please make an effort to rent it, as it is now on DVD / Blu-ray and streaming on Netflix. Check it out!