The Cannes Film Festival has announced films in competition for its 72nd edition to take place May 14-25, and one animated feature has made it into the selection. The watercolor-styled hand-drawn animated feature The Swallows of Kabul, directed by Zabou Breitman and Eléa Gobbé-Mévellec, will premiere in the festival’s Un Certain Regard section.

Based on the 2002 bestselling novel by Yasmina Khadra, the French/Luxembourg/Switzerland co-pro was led by French studio Les Armateurs, which is behind animated features such as Kirikou and the Sorceress, The Triplets of Belleville, and Ernest & Celestine.

This animated adaptation of The Swallows of Kabul marks Breitman’s fist foray into animation, having worked most of her career as an actress and live-action director. For Gobbé-Mévellec this is her directorial debut after having worked as a designer on Lastman and as an animator on other 2d features such as The Rabbi’s Cat, The Prophet, and April and the Extraordinary World.

Set in the Afghani capital in the late 1990s, the drama tells the story of two couples living under Taliban rule whose lives become intertwined in a tragic manner. The synposis:

Summer 1998, Kabul is in ruins and occupied by the Taliban. Atiq and Mussarat have been married for many years and now barely talk to each other. He can no longer stand his life as a guard in a women’s prison. She is dying, suffering from an incurable disease. Mohsen and Zunaira are young and love each other deeply. In spite of the violence and poverty which prevail in their daily lives, they want to believe in a better future. Sadly, Mohsen commits a foolish act which transforms their destiny into tragedy.

Cartoon Brew first reported on the film back in 2017 when initial details and a test teaser were released.

The Swallows of Kabul will open theatrically in France on September 4, 2019 through Memento Films. Celluloid Dreams is the international sales agent.