GKIDS Teams With Angelina Jolie to Produce Taliban Tale ‘The Breadwinner’

Based on Deborah Ellis’ book, film marks first production effort for animated distributor

Last Updated: June 9, 2016 @ 9:15 AM


GKIDS, the New York-based animation distribution company that has landed eight Academy Award nominations in the last seven years, has joined Angelina Jolie Pitt as executive producers of “The Breadwinner,” an animated film about a young girl living under the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The film marks the first time that the eight-year-old company, headed by Eric Beckman and David Jesteadt, has participated in the production of a film. Beckman and Jesteadt will serve as executive producers on “The Breadwinner” along with Jolie Pitt, while Nora Twomey will direct and Aircraft Pictures’ Anthony Leo and Andrew Rosen, Cartoon Saloon’s Tomm Moore and Paul Young, and Melusine Productions’ Stephan Roelants will produce.

“The Breadwinner” is based on the young adult novel by Deborah Ellis, and focuses on a young Afghan girl who cuts her hair and disguises herself as a boy in order to support her family after the Taliban imprisons her father.

It’s the latest feature from Cartoon Saloon, the Irish animation company that specializes in hand-drawn animation, receiving Academy Award nominations for “The Secret of Kells” in 2010 and “Song of the Sea” in 2015. Both films were distributed in North America by GKIDS, whose other Oscar nominees for Best Animated Feature have included “A Cat in Paris” and “Chico & Rita” in 2012, “Ernest & Celestine” in 2014, “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” in 2015 and “Boy and the World” and “When Marnie Was There” in 2016.

Twomey, the director of “The Breadwinner,” co-directed “The Secret of Kells,” with Moore.

“We’ve been long-standing friends with everyone at Cartoon Saloon since those heady days when we celebrated our first Oscar nomination together for ‘The Secret of Kells’ and again five years later for ‘Song of the Sea,'” said Beckman and Jesteadt in a statement. “We knew we needed to be involved with ‘The Breadwinner’ once we learned Nora would be bringing Deborah Ellis’ beautiful and compelling story to the big screen.”

Since its founding in 2008, GKIDS has specialized in bringing international animation, often aimed at adults, to American audiences. Its eight Oscar nominations are second only to Disney/Pixar, but until now GKIDS has strictly been a distribution company. “The Breadwinner” marks the first time it has also served in a producing and financing capacity.

The film is scheduled for release in North America in the fall of 2017.