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Angelina Jolie Pitt to Exec Produce Film Adaptation of Mulan-esque YA Novel ‘The Breadwinner’

Angelina Jolie Pitt to Exec Produce Film Adaptation of Mulan-esque YA Novel 'The Breadwinner'

Angelina Jolie Pitt will executive produce an animated feature adaptation of Deborah Ellis’s YA novel “The Breadwinner,” about an 11-year-old Afghan girl named Parvana who dresses up as a boy to work and support her family.

Nora Twomey, who co-helmed “The Secret of Kells,” will direct.

Published in 2000, Ellis’ book is based on the author’s experience visiting refugee camps in Taliban-occupied Pakistan. Ellis was especially inspired by the story of a young girl she met who disguised herself as a boy so she could go to work to save money for her family. 

“Millions of young girls like Parvana are growing up today under oppression or conflict, and helping their families to survive in those conditions. This story is a reminder of the immense value of their contribution,” Jolie Pitt said. “I am delighted to be working with a talented team of artists who I know will do justice to the richness, creativity and strength of Afghan culture and to little girls like Parvana.”

The book’s legion of fans includes Nobel Prize-winning activist Malala Yousafzai, who told The New York Times that “The Breadwinner” “reminds us how courageous and strong women are around the world.” 

With its empowering message and a female director and exec producer attached, “The Breadwinner” is definitely something we’re going to be keeping our eyes on. It seems as though Jolie Pitt’s unparalleled fame translates into the power to get films greenlit that otherwise wouldn’t be made, such as the upcoming Netflix film she’ll direct based on Cambodian human-rights activist Loung Ung’s memoir, “First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers.” That’s two female-centric projects, both with protagonists of color, both directed by women. We’re hopeful that Jolie Pitt will continue to use her star power to get these stories the platforms they deserve. 

By the Sea,” the actress and filmmaker’s third effort behind the camera, opens November 13.

Here’s the book synopsis for “The Breadwinner”:

The first book in Deborah Ellis’s riveting ‘Breadwinner’ series is
an award-winning novel about loyalty, survival, families, and friendship
under extraordinary circumstances during the Taliban’s rule in
Afghanistan. Eleven-year-old Parvana lives with her family in one room
of a bombed-out apartment building in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city.
Parvana’s father — a history teacher until his school was bombed and
his health destroyed — works from a blanket on the ground in the
marketplace, reading letters for people who cannot read or write. One
day, he is arrested for the crime of having a foreign education, and the
family is left without someone who can earn money or even shop for
food. As conditions for the family grow desperate, only one solution
emerges. Forbidden to earn money as a girl, Parvana must transform
herself into a boy, and become the breadwinner. The 15th anniversary
edition includes a special foreword by Deborah Ellis as well as a new
map, an updated author’s note, and a glossary to provide young readers
with background and context. All royalties from the sale of this book
will go to Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan. Parvana’s Fund
supports education projects for Afghan women and children.

[via Variety]

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