The Breadwinner

31/01/2019 19:45.
Cert 12A

This beautiful animation follows the story, set in Afghanistan in 2001, of 11 year old Parvana and her family. The Taliban rule. Her father, a teacher, passes on to Parvana his love of storytelling, while the family endure the difficulties of everyday life. One day the Taliban break into their home and Father is taken away to prison. Parvana, disguised as a boy, takes over the essential tasks which women are prohibited from doing. Thus life goes on and she becomes the storyteller, helping her siblings to cope with their predicament with stories of the Evil Elephant King. However, the gathering storm of war approaches.

“It’s somehow inspiring to immerse oneself in this pared-down adaptation of Deborah Ellis’ well-regarded young-adult novel, about an 11 year old girl who must step up and care for her family after the Taliban raids her home and arrests her father.” (Peter Debruge,

Dir: Nora Twomey  94mins   Ire/Can/Lux   2017

Programme Notes

Tonight’s animated drama is directed by Nora Twomey (who also worked on the Oscar-nominated The Secret of Kells) and tells the story of Parvana, a young Afghani girl. The story is based on the best-selling children’s novel, published in 2000, by Canadian writer Deborah Ellis, who drew inspiration for the book from her travels in Pakistan in the 1990s.

Parvana (voiced by Saara Chandry) is the eldest child in a family who, following the false arrest of her father, becomes the breadwinner for her mother and younger sibling. It is a time when, under control of the Taliban, women and girls were not allowed to appear in public alone – which rule is brutally implemented. Parvana therefore disguises herself as a boy in order to provide for her family. Following her father’s storytelling tradition, she finds solace in adapting her own stories to mirror the predicament the family is enduring.

“In a time of deepening sensitivity about cultural appropriation, an animated film set in Afghanistan, made largely by westerners and based on a western source, might raise some red flags. But I think The Breadwinneris worth celebrating, in part because it is a work that in some ways qualifies as reportage” Glen Kenny, The New York Times.

Saara Chandry (voice)  – Parvana
Soma Chhaya (voice) – Shauzia
Noorin Gulamgaus (voice) – Idrees/Sulayman
Laara Sadiq (voice) – Fattema/Old woman
Shaista Latif (voice) – Soraya

Director – Nora Twomey
Producers – Anthony Leo, Tomm Moore, Andrew Rosen
Screenplay – Anita Doron, Deborah Ellis
Animation – Danas Bereznickas and 105 others
Original Music – Jeff and Mychael Danna


  • What a stunning film!
  • Gripping and charming, with some bite
  • Wonderful narrative, superbly told
  • A moving amalgam of myth and modern life. Western influence noticeable. Dialogue sometimes      hard to follow – too much background noise, plus the local accents
  • What a beautiful film! I couldn’t follow much of the dialogue but there was lovely blend of modern       characters and striking imagery
  • Both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time
  • A sad story of our time!
  • A terrifying story, told beautifully
  • With Cartoon Saloon’s distinct character designs, and the influence of Studio Zuegrub [sic] for its      story-world sequences, The Breadwinner, with its emotionally charged ending, is destined for       greatness. Zuegrub is a studio that deserves more exposure
  • Some nice affects but not really my thing
  • I wonder what audiences in Afghanistan thought of it?


A:15, B:3, C:2, D:0, E:0 to give 91% from 80% of those present.