(IMAGE COURTESY OF GKIDS/CARTOON SALOON)
The first-ever ANIMATION IS FILM FESTIVAL launched last night in Hollywood with the North American première of the new GKIDS animated feature THE BREADWINNER. The festival runs through Sunday evening, when awards in a variety of categories will be announced.
The festival is the brainchild of peripatetic GKIDS founder Eric Beckman, who was also on hand to celebrate the first major festival in the US dedicated solely to movie animation.
Beckman is also an executive producer on THE BREADWINNER, which received an enthusiastic standing ovation from a capacity crowd in one of the larger theatres at the TLC Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
The movie is a simultaneously ravishing and harrowing fable of Afghani women during the era of Taliban rule. Based on the YA novel by Deborah Ellis, THE BREADWINNER is directed by Cartoon Saloon co-founder Nora Twomey (codirector with Tomm Moore of the 2009 Best Animated Oscar nominee THE SECRET OF KELLS). Alternating between an at times tragic story of a household of Afghani women trapped into near starvation by the Taliban’s anti-feminist religious dictatorship and Twomey’s beautifully stylized adaptation of an Afghani folktale, THE BREADWINNER both consolidates and expands on the Cartoon Saloon house style.
The film’s passionate commitment to international women’s rights is presumably what drew Jolie to the project, which is very far from a typical children’s film. Jolie brought her two oldest daughters – Zahara, 12 and Shiloh, 11 – to watch the film with her, and their ages would seem to be about the lowest range for viewers of Twohey’s frank depictions of the Taliban’s oppression of women.
Based on crowd response from a room peopled by animation and industry insiders, THE BREADWINNER will almost certainly be on many short lists as one of the more adventurous and accomplished animated titles of 2017, and is already a contender to fill what has become the annual GKIDS slot on the Academy dance card come Oscar nomination time.
The ANIMATION IS FILM FESTIVAL is off to an auspicious start.