Animation/Drama | 2019 | 85 min | Rating: R13 | France | Dir: Zabou Breitman and Eléa Gobbé-Mévellec | Cast: Simon Abkarian, Zita Hanrot, and Swann Arlaud

Lauded at film festivals around the world – from Portugal to Japan to France’s acclaimed Annecy International Animated Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival – Zabou Breitman and Éléa Gobbé-Mévellec’s exquisite animated film, The Swallows of Kabul, captures the poetry of Algerian author Yasmina Khadra’s 2002 novel of the same name.

Khadra’s cherished tale is brought to life through two couples living in the Afghan capital during the nineties, and the impact Taliban rule has on each relationship. Through their individual love stories, unforgettable characters emerge amid the devastating impact of armed combat. On one side sits idealistic Mohsen (Swann Arlaud) and Zunaira (Zita Hanrot) who dream of a better future, and on the other is a disillusioned prison guard, Atiq (Simon Abkarian), and his seriously ill wife, Mussarat (Hiam Abbass).

Stylistically marked by swathes of gentle watercolour and illustrated characters who express a complex spectrum of emotions, The Swallows of Kabul successfully creates powerful tensions with its subject matter. The very tenderness of the film’s romantic relationships lie in sharp contrast to the violence of lives and loves forever changed by the horrors of war. While The Swallows of Kabul does not seek to soften these blows, it instead draws the audience in, like moths to a flame, thanks to its sensitive insights into tragedies many of us could never comprehend.

French with English subtitles.


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