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Young Parvana lives in Kabul during a time when the Taliban have control over Afghanistan. In order to help her family survive after her father is arrested by the Taliban, she decides to pass as a boy so that she can work and buy food. At home she spins a long tale to amuse her young brother. At work she is getting to know a man who might be able to help her see her father in prison. Determined to help her father, Parvana shows courage and resourcefulness in her quest.

The Breadwinner, a gorgeously animated film, was nominated for an Academy Award this year. It is based on the young adult novel of the same name by Deborah Ellis. The animation brings to life the dry, windy landscapes and the busy marketplace of Afghanistan. The sometimes desolate day-to-day life is in striking contrast to the colorfully imagined story Parvana is telling her brother, the beauty of the characters’ faces, and the glorious night sky.

The film was directed by Nora Twomey and the Irish studio Cartoon Saloon, the same animators who made the luminous The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea. While those movies are appropriate for ages 8 and up, The Breadwinner is not for children. Like the novel, it deals with traumatic events. Those events are not offered in graphic detail, but they do earn the PG-13 rating.

The story is a compelling look at not just horrific circumstances, but more importantly the courage of the women and children who had to cope with those circumstances. It also celebrates the power of story and the importance of literacy. On disc now. (Universal)

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