The Breadwinner (film)

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The Breadwinner
The Breadwinner (film) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNora Twomey
Produced by
  • Anthony Leo
  • Tomm Moore
  • Andrew Rosen
  • Paul Young
  • Stephen Roelants
Screenplay by
Based onThe Breadwinner
by Deborah Ellis
Music by
CinematographySheldon Lisoy
Edited byDarragh Byrne
Distributed by
Release date
  • September 8, 2017 (2017-09-08) (TIFF)
  • November 17, 2017 (2017-11-17) (United States)
Running time
94 minutes
  • Canada
  • Ireland
  • Luxembourg
Budget$10 million
Box office$4,442,537[6][7]

The Breadwinner is a 2017 animated drama film by Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon directed by Nora Twomey and executive produced by Mimi Polk Gitlin[8] and Angelina Jolie.[9] Based on the best-selling novel by Deborah Ellis, the film was an international co-production between Canada, Ireland, and Luxembourg, and received a limited release on 17 November 2017.[8] The film is currently streaming on Netflix.

The film had its world premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival in September.[10] The Breadwinner received a nomination for Best Animated Feature at the 90th Academy Awards.


Parvana is an 11-year-old girl living in Kabul, Afghanistan, under the control of the Taliban. Her father Nurullah, who is a school teacher was left physically impaired during the Soviet–Afghan War; because of the war, he lost his left leg and became a hawker. A while later, during supper, he is unjustly arrested after a volatile young member of the Taliban, Idrees, thinks he insulted him earlier while the two were selling goods in the market in Kabul. Parvana's family is left without an adult male relative, as her elder brother Sulayman died years ago, leaving her, her mother Fattema, her elder sister Soraya and her youngest brother Zaki without means to support the family, as they are not allowed to go out without a male relative. Even though Parvana and her mother try to go to the prison, they are forced to go back when a member of the Taliban beats Fattema and threatens to arrest them if they are caught again. After Parvana unsuccessfully tries to buy food while going out as a girl, she decides to cut her hair and dress as a boy and pretend to be Nurullah's nephew, Aatish, in order to support the family. Parvana frequently entertains Zaki by telling the story of a young boy on a journey to retrieve the seeds stolen by the evil Elephant King.

The ploy works, and Parvana is able to get both food and money. On the advice of Shauzia, another young girl dressing as a boy to support her family, Parvana goes to the prison where her father is held to try to bribe the guards into letting her see him. The plan fails each time, and Parvana is driven away. She works to save up more money to get a larger bribe, taking on hard labor jobs with Shauzia, who is trying to save enough money to escape from her abusive father. Meanwhile, Fattema is forced to write to a relative in Mazar-i-Sharif, offering Soraya up for an arranged marriage with one of her younger cousins in exchange for shelter and protection. Parvana also meets Razaq, who was with Idrees when her father was arrested; the illiterate Razaq pays her to read him a letter that reveals that his wife, Haala, was killed by a mine on the way to a wedding. He befriends her and continues to meet with her so that she can teach him how to read and write.

Parvana and Shauzia take a hard labor job where Idrees is also in attendance. He recognises her, and, after being hit abruptly by Parvana with a brick, tries to kill her as she flees with Shauzia. Parvana and Shauzia manage to hide, and Idrees is abruptly called away to fight in a war that has just begun, never to be seen again. When Parvana returns home, Fattema pleads with her to stop the dangerous ploy, telling her that her relatives accepted Soraya and that they will be collected the day after next. Parvana agrees on the condition that she visits Nurullah in prison to inform him where they will be leaving, as Razaq has a cousin that works there that will let her in. She tearfully bids farewell to Shauzia, promising that they will meet 20 years from then. However, as Parvana travels to the prison, Fattema's cousin arrives early and forces them to come with him without Parvana, as the war is starting and the roads will soon be blocked. Fattema eventually stands up to her cousin in a furious manner, refusing to let him take them further, and he leaves the family stranded in the road.

Parvana arrives at the prison, where she finds Razaq. After Parvana reveals that she is Nurullah's daughter, Razaq informs her that his cousin has left to fight, but he will retrieve Nurullah; the prison is being cleared out of weak prisoners who are unable to fight, and Parvana witnesses their execution. A terrified Parvana gathers her courage to stay by finishing the tale of the boy, who she turns into Sulayman, revealing that he died after picking up a "toy" in the street, which was actually a land mine that exploded. Razaq is shot in the shoulder while rescuing the weak Nurullah, but is wounded nonfatally and reunites the father and daughter. Parvana takes her father away, where they will soon reunite with the rest of the family, as the two continue the story they were telling each other at the start of the film.



In May 2016, it was announced that key animation for the film had commenced.[8] The Breadwinner was a co-production between Aircraft Pictures in Canada, Melusine Productions in Luxembourg, and Cartoon Saloon in Ireland.

The Breadwinner was executive produced by Angelina Jolie who worked with director Nora Twomey to bring the novel to the screen. Twomey is an Irish animator, director, screenwriter, producer and voice actress. She is also a founding partner in Cartoon Saloon, an Irish animation studio based in Kilkenny that did the key animation for The Breadwinner.


The film's music is composed by the brothers Mychael and Jeff Danna. Its pallette of timbres sways between the austere, to underscore the real life sequences, and the more colourful to illustrate the parallel fantasy story. Performers include a young girls choir whose participation was arranged through the Afghanistan National Institute of Music.[13]


Box office[edit]

The film earned $17,395 its opening weekend in North America.[7]

As of August 17, 2018, The Breadwinner has grossed $313,215 in the United States and Canada, and $1,544,296 internationally for a worldwide total of $1,857,511.[7]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 95%, based on 103 reviews, with an average rating of 7.89/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Breadwinner's stunning visuals are matched by a story that dares to confront sobering real-life issues with uncommon—and richly rewarding—honesty."[14] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 78/100, based on reviews from 20 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[15]

Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times gave the film a positive review, writing "...'The Breadwinner' reminds us yet again that the best of animation takes us anywhere at any time and makes us believe."[16] Vanessa H. Larson of The Washington Post gave the film three and a half out of four stars, praising the animation while criticizing the story for being difficult to follow at times.[17] Mark Kermode, writing for The Guardian, gave the film 5/5 stars.[18]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients Result Ref.
Annie Awards 3 February 2018 Best Animated Feature — Independent The Breadwinner Won [19]
Character Design in an Animated Feature Production Reza Riahi, Louise Bagnall, Alice Dieudonné Nominated
Directing in an Animated Feature Production Nora Twomey Nominated
Music in an Animated Feature Production Mychael Danna, Jeff Danna Nominated
Production Design in an Animated Feature Production Ciaran Duffy, Julien Regnard, Daby Zainab Faidhi Nominated
Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production Julien Regnard Nominated
Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production Saara Chaudry Nominated
Laara Sadiq Nominated
Writing in an Animated Feature Production Anita Doron Nominated
Editorial in an Animated Feature Production Darragh Byrne Nominated
Academy Awards 4 March 2018 Best Animated Feature Nora Twomey and Anthony Leo Nominated [20]
Canadian Screen Awards 11 March 2018 Best Picture Andrew Rosen, Anthony Leo, Paul Young, Tomm Moore, Stéphan Roelants Nominated [21][22]
Best Adapted Screenplay Anita Doron Won
Best Editing Darragh Byrne Nominated
Best Sound Editing Nelson Ferreira, John Elliot, J. R. Fountain, Dashen Naidoo, Tyler Whitham Won
Best Original Score Mychael Danna, Jeff Danna Won
Best Original Song "The Crown Sleeps", Qais Essar and Joshua Hill Won
Critics' Choice Movie Awards 11 January 2018 Best Animated Feature The Breadwinner Nominated [23]
Golden Globe Awards 7 January 2018 Best Animated Feature Film The Breadwinner Nominated [24]
Golden Tomato Awards 3 January 2018 Best Animated Movie 2017 The Breadwinner 4th Place [25]
Los Angeles Film Critics Association 13 January 2018 Best Animated Film The Breadwinner Won [26]
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association 8 December 2017 Best Animated Feature The Breadwinner Nominated [27]

See also[edit]

  • Osama, a 2003 film with a similar premise.


  1. ^ filmmusicreporter (2 June 2017). "Mychael & Jeff Danna to Score 'The Breadwinner'". Film Music Reporter. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  2. ^ Wolfe, Jennifer (3 March 2015). "Cartoon Saloon, Aircraft Productions to Co-Produce 'The Breadwinner'". Animation World Network. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  3. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (7 June 2016). "Guru Joins 'Breadwinner' Production". Animation Magazine. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  4. ^ den Hartog, Max (15 August 2015). "Angelina Jolie Joins Cartoon Saloon's 'The Breadwinner' as Executive Producer". Rotoscopers. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  5. ^ McLean, Tom (5 March 2015). "Aircraft, Cartoon Saloon Partner on 'The Breadwinner'". Animation Magazine. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  6. ^ "The Breadwinner (2017)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  7. ^ a b c "The Breadwinner". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Milligan, Mercedes (19 May 2016). "International Co-Pro 'The Breadwinner' Enters Production". Animation Magazine. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  9. ^ Mitchell, Wendy (29 November 2014). "Animated Breadwinner eyeing April start". Screen Daily. Screen International. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  10. ^ Staff (25 July 2017). "The Toronto International Film Festival unveils first slate of films for 2017". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  11. ^ Barraclough, Leo (12 September 2016). "Oscar-Nominated Cartoon Saloon, Angelina Jolie Pitt Team With WestEnd on 'The Breadwinner'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  12. ^ a b Sarym, Ahmed (15 April 2016). "All that Ali Kazmi is up to this year!". HIP in Pakistan. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  13. ^ The Danna Brothers Win Over Audiences With “The Breadwinner” 18 December 2017,, accessed 15 March 2019
  14. ^ "The Breadwinner (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  15. ^ "The Breadwinner Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  16. ^ Turan, Kenneth (17 November 2017). "'The Breadwinner' is a striking and affecting animated film set in modern Kabul". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  17. ^ Larson, Vanessa H. (20 November 2017). "'The Breadwinner,' about a Kabul girl, features gorgeous animation but a so-so story". The Washington Post. The Washington Post Company. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  18. ^ Kermode, Mark (27 May 2018). "The Breadwinner review – a girl's courage on the streets of Kabul". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  19. ^ Hipes, Patrick (4 December 2017). "Annie Awards: Disney/Pixar's 'Coco' Tops Nominations". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  20. ^ Variety Staff (23 January 2018). "'Oscar Nominations 2018: The Complete List". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  21. ^ Amidi, Amid (20 January 2018). "'The Breadwinner' Nominated For 6 Canadian Screen Awards, Including Best Picture". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  22. ^ Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television (12 March 2018). "Maudie, The Breadwinner, Hochelaga, Land of Souls, Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World, Kim's Convenience, Alias Grace and The Amazing Race Canada Among 2018 Canadian Screen Awards Winners". PR Newswire. Cision. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  23. ^ Tapley, Kristopher (6 December 2017). "'Shape of Water' Leads Critics' Choice Film Nominations". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  24. ^ Variety Staff (7 January 2018). "Golden Globes Winners: Complete List". Variety. Penske Business Media. Archived from the original on 8 January 2018. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  25. ^ "Best Animated Movies 2017". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. 2 January 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  26. ^ "43rd Annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards". Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
  27. ^ Gordon, Tim (7 December 2017). "The 2017 WAFCA Awards". Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association. Retrieved 6 December 2017.

External links[edit]