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Indie animation distributor GKIDS has boarded executive producer Angelina Jolie Pitt’s hand-drawn animated feature The Breadwinner — marking the first time the studio is serving in a producing and financing capacity, in addition to distribution.
GKIDS will co-finance Breadwinner, while CEO/founder Eric Beckman and senior vp distribution David Jesteadt will join Jolie-Pitt as executive producers. GKIDS also obtained distribution rights in North America, where the film is slated for a fall 2017 theatrical release.
Currently in production, Breadwinner is being directed by Nora Twomey out of Ireland-based animation studio Cartoon’s Saloon, whose previous GKIDS releases The Secret of Kells (co-directed by Twomey) and Song of the Sea earned best animated feature Oscar nominations. The pic is based on Deborah Ellis’ young adult novel about a young girl living under the Taliban regime who cuts her hair and disguises herself as a boy in order to provide for her family after her father is imprisoned.
Breadwinner is being produced by Cartoon Saloon’s Tomm Moore (director of Song of the Sea and co-director of Secret of Kells) and Paul Young; Aircraft Pictures’ Anthony Leo and Andrew Rosen; and Melusine Productions’ Stephan Roelants.
An Ireland-Canada-Luxembourg co-production, Breadwinner will be produced with the participation of Telefilm Canada, the Irish Film Board, Film Fund Luxembourg, the Harold Greenberg Fund, Shaw Rocket Fund, the OMDC and the BAI along with Gaia Entertainment and the Artemis Rising Foundation.
“The move toward production is a very natural extension of our business. This is our first, but it won’t be our last,” Jesteadt told The Hollywood Reporter. “We’ll continue to acquire films and we’ll be on the lookout for the right kind of projects to keep our move into production going. Cartoon Salon, I think, is one of the best animation studios in the world. And with the quality of the animation and sensitivity of the story, we feel very comfortable with this group [of producers].
“I think The Breadwinner is going to be a very moving and affecting,” he continued, adding that Cartoon Saloon has moved from Celtic fantasy tales to this “deep movie” with a sociopolitical message. “It shows the strength of their storytelling ability.”
Breadwinner author Ellis recently completed My Name is Parvana, the fourth book in the series. To date, she has donated more than $1 million from her book royalties to the charity Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan.
Since it was founded in 2008, GKIDS has distributed a slate of prestige, independent animated features from around the world, eight of which have garnered Oscar nominations. Its next release, Phantom Boy, from the writer and directors of Oscar-nominated A Cat in Paris, opens in limited release on July 15.
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