The Breadwinner

Irish animators Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey won critical acclaim for their magical feature The Secret of Kells (2009), which was inspired by Celtic folklore. Moore followed it with another Irish-themed feature, Song of the Sea (2014), but Twomey strikes out into new territory with her solo feature debut, a children’s adventure about life in Afghanistan under the Taliban. After a kindly street merchant in Kabul is thrown into prison, his wife and two daughters face privation because no one in the local market dares to do business with a woman. The younger daughter, already a freethinker at age 11, solves their problem by disguising herself as a boy; she revels in the freedom of her new identity, though exposure will mean certain death. A story within the story, centered on an elephant king and rendered in mock cutout style, harks back to the traditionalism of Kells, but the modern narrative is more engaging, using a child’s simple perspective to examine the cruelty of sharia law.