"a stirring and impeccable piece that stitches threads of impossible beauty and inescapable hardship"

Cartoon Saloon has become the front runner in hand-drawn animation. Their movies have been impeccable and gorgeous, beautiful sculptures of story-telling that are awash with colour and mystical magic. From The Secret of the Kells to Song of the Sea, the works of the studio are impeccable and brilliantly done. Their last project, the aforementioned Song of the Sea was the pinnacle of fantastical family films and was seemingly a lofty bar that they had set to themselves.

Then they leaped over that bar with The Breadwinner.

The latest Cartoon Saloon film is directed by Nora Twomley and based on a book by Deborah Ellis. It revolves around an 11 year old girl Parvana who lives in Afghanistan under Taliban rule in 2001. With women locked away in their homes, unable to leave without a male escort, Parvana spends her time looking after her crippled father, selling their goods for meagre earnings. When he is arrested and taken away, the remaining family are devastated. However, the brave Parvana decides to disguise herself as a young boy in order to earn money. That isn’t without it’s dire consequences...

The Breadwinner is immensely hand crafted with intricate detail that is awash with colour. It blossoms with the studios distinct style yet harnesses Middle Eastern artistry and influence. A whole spectrum is used to brilliantly coaxing into this phenomenal story..

The Breadwinner is a stirring and impeccable piece that stitches threads of impossible beauty and inescapable hardship. Parvana’s life is ruled with rigid authority, pain and threat of death. Her courage to step out of her home and face it all makes her a truly great heroine of this story whilst her ability to continue her innocence, telling fairy tales and playing games when the watchful eye is no longer there, fleshing her out as child still dreaming whilst nightmares plague her land.

This balance filters throughout the film. This is a story of struggle and survival but also family and friendship. Twomley sensitively weaves Ellis' tale on the big screen, showing that whilst there is this anguish brewing, hope is still alive. The film shows that the people are silently taking back control, defying the rule, and helping one another is the true fire that’ll endure.