Beautiful and heartbreaking. I loved ‘The Secret of Kells’ and ‘Song of the Sea’. This film is every bit as beautifully animated as either of those, but tells a much darker story. Parvana and her family are struggling to survive in Afghanistan under the tyrannical rule of the Taliban. When Parvana’s father is arrested by the Taliban and thrown in jail, Parvana is forced to dress as a boy to try to make money and buy food for her mother, older sister and infant brother.
It doesn’t shrink away from the violence and harshness of the regime, but it also beautifully portrays the tenderness between members of the family. I have seen criticisms of the ‘story within a story’ which Parvana tells her siblings, but I think it is a key part of the way that the characters can approach and deal with emotionally difficult things.
All of the Cartoon Saloon films have a moment that comes out of nowhere and grabs you right by the feels. This one is no exception, and it was heart-rending and stunningly beautiful at the same time. The film even managed to make me (eventually) pity the over-zealous young Taliban follower who harasses Parvana and her family. There’s a very subtle moment when you see that he is just a young lad who can’t even grow a proper moustache yet, and he’s scared when the reality of the situation dawns on him.
This is an amazing piece of work.