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Lennox Mathematics, Science & Technology Academy

Movie review: ‘The Breadwinner’

What would you do for your family?

On Nov. 2, the Museum of Tolerance held a special screening of the film, “The Breadwinner,” by director Nora Twomey.

Based on the award-winning novel by Deborah Ellis, the animated film centers around Parvana, an 11-year-old girl living in Afghanistan under the Taliban. Living during this time restricted her education to none, and her father, a previous school teacher, took on the task of teaching his family how to read and write.

After her father had been caught teaching the women in his family, he was arrested by the Taliban. Parvana is now left fatherless and has no one to take care of her ill mother, elder sister, and baby brother, and herself. As the three women attempt to survive without being spotted outside of their home without a male, their basic necessities start running scarce.

Parvana’s family’s efforts are futile and she takes on the task of providing for her family in any way possible. She disguises her true identity as Parvana and dresses as a boy to provide for her family. Meanwhile, she desperately attempts to reunite with her father even after being denied so.

The film takes the viewer on an emotion-filled journey as the family attempts to fend for themselves while Parvana tells an action-packed story throughout the film.

“The Breadwinner” takes the audience to a time of harsh discrimination, sexism, and war. Despite this, the makers of the film have acknowledged that with the topics they have touched upon, their creation would be seen as a political statement. However, they state that in actuality they simply are showing a family in an unfortunate situation and the sacrifices that are made by those in it.

In a child who has lived in a hate-filled environment for their whole life, there has never been a moment where there was peace. The film does a great deal of showing the harshness of a society that is based on discrimination. As everyone yells at each other and fights against each other, the 11-year-old understands well that these actions of the people in that society are purposeless and only causing more harm.

As the film comes to an end in a war setting, Parvana powerfully states, “Raise your words, not your voices. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”

The animators of the film have the ability to tell this deep and enticing story through the use of multimedia animation. The filmmakers show the principle story through digital animation to show the viewers Parvana’s life. On the contrary, the filmmakers used cut-out animation to portray the story of Parvana’s absent brother as she narrates it throughout the film.

Humanitarian Angelina Jolie played an integral role as producer of the film, and constantly pushed for an all Afghan cast. According to Twomey, in a visit to a school in Canada, Deborah Ellis discussed her book to middle-school students. Among these students was a young Afghan girl by the name of Saara Chaudry who was a fan of the novel “The Breadwinner.”

When the floor was opened for questions, Chaudry asked Ellis if a movie adaptation of the novel would ever be released. Coincidently, Chaudry became the voice of Parvana.

In correlation with the novel and film, a campaign was founded in order to “harness the power of storytelling to amplify our message of education and empowerment.” This campaign includes a story contest for all women to “raise their words” and encourage empowerment. More information can be found via this link:

“The Breadwinner” opened on Nov. 17 in select theatres only. Tickets are available for sale online through this link: