Adap­ta­tion’s awards buzz ‘phe­nom­e­nal,’ au­thor says

Calgary Herald - - MOVIES - MAIJA KAP­PLER

Cana­dian au­thor Deb­o­rah El­lis is thrilled the big-screen adap­ta­tion of her young adult novel The Bread­win­ner is get­ting ma­jor awards buzz. But she’s quick to di­vert credit to the film’s di­rec­tor and cre­ative team.

Di­rec­tor Nora Twomey and her team of an­i­ma­tors “de­serve all the praise that they’re get­ting” for the film’s suc­cess, El­lis said from her home in Sim­coe, Ont.

“They were very sin­cere about the project ... and they have been very care­ful to be as au­then­tic in the film as they pos­si­bly can,” El­lis said.

“It’s just re­ally a phe­nom­e­nal piece of work that they’ve cre­ated.”

The Bread­win­ner tells the story of Par­vana, an 11-yearold Afghan girl liv­ing un­der Tal­iban rule. She dresses up as a boy to help pro­vide for her fam­ily while her fa­ther is im­pris­oned by the Tal­iban.

The movie, a Canada-Ire­land-Lux­em­bourg co-pro­duc­tion, pre­mièred at the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val in Septem­ber and counts An­gelina Jolie among its ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers.

Ear­lier this week it was nom­i­nated for 10 An­nie Awards, which cel­e­brate an­i­mated work, in­clud­ing best in­de­pen­dent an­i­mated fea­ture. The Bread­win­ner trails only Pixar’s Coco, which has 13 nom­i­na­tions.

Mean­while, the Los An­ge­les Film Crit­ics As­so­ci­a­tion picked The Bread­win­ner over Coco for its best an­i­ma­tion award. The Bread­win­ner is also one of 26 movies sub­mit­ted for con­sid­er­a­tion in the an­i­mated fea­ture film cat­e­gory for the 90th Academy Awards.

El­lis said she was “pretty ex­cited, of course” when the movie rights for her story were sold but “it was hard to know for sure. Some­times these things start and then they can’t get off the ground.”

“But these folks were very tena­cious,” she added.

El­lis first saw the com­pleted movie in Au­gust at a screen­ing for the cast and crew, an ex­pe­ri­ence she said was “fan­tas­tic.”

She re­mem­bers be­ing struck by the num­ber of peo­ple in the room who had all con­trib­uted to putting the story she wrote onto the big screen.

“One of the things that was most mov­ing was to look up at the seats in the the­atre and know that they were all filled with peo­ple who had been part of this project and con­trib­uted their time and thought and heart and soul,” she said. “That re­ally blew me away.”

As a writer for young au­di­ences, El­lis said she’s used to see­ing read­ers in­ter­act with her work di­rectly, an ex­pe­ri­ence many writ­ers don’t share.

“I go into a lot of schools,” she said. “My books have al­ways felt like they were com­mu­nity kind of events, be­cause I’m in there and the kids are talk­ing about them.

“What’s changed, I think, is now it’s more of a wider au­di­ence, and a dif­fer­ent au­di­ence. Par­ents will take their kids to see the movie, and talk about it af­ter­wards. It just adds a whole other layer of dis­cus­sion.”

El­lis thinks the story might res­onate more now than when her book was re­leased be­cause con­di­tions in Afghanistan have be­come more widely un­der­stood.

Deb­o­rah El­lis

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