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Angelina Jolie-produced The Breadwinner, based on Canadian bestseller, debuts at TIFF

Angelina Jolie-produced The Breadwinner, based on Canadian bestseller, debuts at TIFF
From CBC - September 11, 2017

When Canadian Saara Chaudrygot the callto play Parvana, theyoungheroine at the centre ofThe Breadwinner,she was more than ready.

Years ago she'd fallenin love with the young adult novel when a librarian had recommended the Deborah Ellisbook. Chaudryhad even exchanged emails with the Canadian author, met her at a school book reading and asked about a potential movie.

Then, one day, she received a fateful call from her agent to audition for a film adaptation ofThe Breadwinner.

"From then on, I really wanted to get the part and wanted to do justice to the character," Chaudry said.

The Breadwinner, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday,tells the story of an indomitable 11-year-old Afghan girl namedParvana. When her father is suddenly arrested in Kabul by the Taliban,Parvanadresses as a boy so she can work to support her family and venture out to discover if her father is still alive.

Concerned about treatment of women

The real story began in the late1990s, when peace activist-turned-author Ellis grew concerned about the treatment of women under theTalibanregime.

"I am not an organizer.I am not a good fundraiser.But I thought if I could go over there, collect some of their stories and find out who they arehow they deal with all of this, what they were living through, how they were reacting to it that that might be useful," the Simcoe, Ont.-based writer told CBC News recently during an interview at her local library, where she goes daily to research and write.

"By putting names and faces and stories to what was going on in Afghanistan, I thought maybe that might be of use. And the money from the book could raise some money."

While there, Ellis learned of girls who disguised themselves as boys who werepermitted to leave the house unaccompanied under the oppressive rules of the Taliban regime in order to support their families.

After first publishing the non-fiction book Women of the Afghan War, further inspiration struck and Ellis created the fictional story of an undaunted girl she named Parvana.

"She's a girl who is not at all interested in being heroic or strong or brave or anything," Ellis said.

"But she rises to the circumstances that life throws at her."

Since the publication of the original book in 2000, Ellis's tales ofParvana'spersistence have inspired millions of readersand helped raise closeto $2 million forParvana'sFund, a charity to support education projects for Afghan women and children.

The universality of Parvana'sstory is what attracted Hollywood star AngelinaJolieto the project.

Story 'rings true': Jolie

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