Frances Winston feels that although this story is quite dark, the animation is amazing, and it would be good for tweens and teens.
Directed by: Nora Twomey – Starring the voices of: Saara Chaudry, Soma Bhatia, Noorin Gulamgaus, Kane Mahon, Laara Sadiq, Ali Badshah, Kanza Feris, Shaista Latif, Kawa Ada, Ali Kazmi, Reza Sholeh
If it feels like this movie has been out for ages, that’s because it’s already enjoyed quite an extraordinary journey before finally getting its Irish release.
Although it is from Irish animation studio, Cartoon Saloon, and directed by Irish woman, Nora Twomey, it secured international and US releases before arriving on these shores.
Indeed, it was even nominated in the Best Animated Feature Category at the Academy Awards. I actually saw it last year at a special IFTA screening, so personally, I feel like it has been out for eons already.
Based on the bestselling novel by Deborah Ellis, and executive produced by none other than Angelina Jolie, this tells the story of Parvana, a young girl living in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
When her father is imprisoned, the family is left without an adult male relative, and Parvana decides to dress a boy in order to go out to work, and support the family. However, her efforts may be in vain, as her mother offers to allow a relative to marry her other daughter in order to secure the family’s future, and with war imminent, they will have to evacuate their home. But Parvana is determined to get her father released before that happens.
This is not your average happy-clappy animation. The story is quite dark, and it deals with some serious issues that are faced by people living in this situations. It doesn’t dress them up, but does deal with them in a way that could engage a dialogue with a child, without distressing them. The one thing I would say about the story, however, is that it is extremely complex at times, and possibly could have been made a bit easier to follow, without losing the integrity of the tale.
Visually, the animation is stunning. Every moment of this movie is vivid and rich, and the attention to detail is amazing. Director, Twomey, also made a point of using real Afghans, or people of Afghan origin, to voice the characters, which gives it a truly authentic feel. There are no gimmicky ‘name’ actors here for the sake of it, although a few of them have a bit of a profile.
This is classified 12A, and really wouldn’t be suitable for younger children due to the dark subject-matter, and some possibly distressing scenes. But if you want to engage your tweens and teens in a discussion about what goes on in the world, this is a good starting point, as it manages to convey a lot of the facts about the realities of life in Afghanistan, but in an accessible way.
Deserving of all its plaudits, this isn’t an easy ride, and demands your focus, but is possibly one of the most thought-provoking animations you will see.
In Cinemas Now! See Trailer Below: