(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.

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