LFF Official Competition spotlight: The Breadwinner

Get up to speed with the films playing in competition at this year’s BFI London Film Festival. Today’s pick: Nora Twomey’s The Breadwinner.


What’s it about?

Parvana’s father was taken by the Taliban when she was 11. She, her mother and her young siblings grieve, then realise they face an urgent practical problem: how can they leave the house without a male escort? Determined to help her family, Parvana cuts her hair and starts to pass as a boy, which gives her the run of Kabul, but places her in great potential danger. The Breadwinner examines women’s place in restrictive societies and the power that men wield.

Who made it?

The Breadwinner is directed by Nora Twomey, co-founder of the Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon, who were Oscar-nominated for their last film, Song of the Sea (LFF Family Gala 2014). This is Twomey’s first solo directorial credit, having co-directed The Secret of the Kells (2009), which also received an Academy Award nomination. The film is based on Deborah Ellis’s book, which was inspired by interviews Ellis did with Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

What people are saying

“Exquisite images play out against a traumatising background of endless war”
— Screen Daily

“Paints a powerful picture of a vibrant culture and people under stifling repression”
— Steve Pond, The Wrap

Why we’re excited

“If my 10-year-old goddaughter Elodie May lived in the UK, this is the film I would bring her to this Festival. I am a big believer in empowering girls through storytelling, and The Breadwinner will connect with anyone who admires Malala Yousafzai. But it’s not just that the story is potent and incredibly relevant, it’s also that the animation is beautiful. Nora Twomey’s exquisite use of colour and play on traditional Afghan imagery is as captivating as the voice of the young Canadian actor Saara Chaudry who brings Parvana so palpably to life.”
— Clare Stewart, Festival Director

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