Nora Twomey’s The Breadwinner came up the big winner at the inaugural edition of Animation is Film, claiming both the festival’s grand prize and audience award.

Twelve animated features from around the world screened in competition at this first edition of the festival. The only other award presented at the event was a special jury prize to the French feature Big Bad Fox & Other Tales, directed by Patrick Imbert and Benjamin Renner.

The Breadwinner tells the story of a 12-year-old girl growing up under the Taliban in Afghanistan, who, after her father’s wrongful arrest, must pretend to be a boy to be able to work and provide for her family. The Ireland-Canada-Luxembourg co-pro was initiated by Cartoon Saloon, the two-time Oscar-nominated Irish studio responsible for The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea. The Breadwinner will be released theatrically in the United States on November 17.

Speaking on behalf of the entire jury, festival jury chair Peter Debruge said “The Breadwinner is not just an incredibly important film, but one that reminds us of the power of animation to communicate serious issues in the world. Transforming hardship into a warm and moving story, the movie represents a triumph by its director, Nora Twomey, in terms of script, voice acting, design, music and editing. The films in competition this year illustrated the many techniques and possibilities of animation, but The Breadwinner was a clear favorite among our jury.”

Besides Debruge, who is the chief film critic at Variety, the jury consisted of :

  • Allison Abbate, EVP Theatrical Animation, Warner Bros. Pictures; producer of The Iron Giant, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Lego Movie
  • Bonnie Arnold, Dreamworks Animation; producer of Toy Story, How to Train Your Dragon
  • Brenda Chapman, Oscar-winning director of Brave
  • Carolyn Giardina, tech editor, The Hollywood Reporter
  • Jorge R. Gutierrez, director of Book of Life
  • Mabel Tam, head film buyer, Landmark Cinemas
  • Charles Solomon, film critic and historian
  • Anne Thompson, editor-at-large, IndieWire

Animation is Film was presented by GKIDS, Annecy International Animation Film Festival, Variety, and ASIFA-Hollywood, with major sponsors Cartoon Brew, LA Times, IndieWire, Fathom Events, and Google.

"The Breadwinner" American poster.