The Swallows of Kabul, feature film
France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, 2019, dcp, 81:
In French with Slovenian and English subtitles
Kabul under Taliban rule. Two neighbourhoods and two couples. One conservative – Atiq and Mussarat have been married for 20 years and are deeply engrained in the traditions of Afghan life. One modern – young and in love, Zunaira and Mohsen are against all the same traditions. Under the Talibans, they’ve both lost their jobs and have difficulties to make ends meet, yet they’re determined to maintain their modern values. One day, a stoning. Then an act of humiliation. Then a fight… and life takes an irrevocable turn. When the lives of these diametrically opposite couples become intertwined, sacrifice becomes the price to pay for love.
Directed by: Zabou Breitman, Éléa Gobbé-Mévellec
Based on a novel by Yasmina Khadra
Written by: Sébastien Tavel, Patricia Mortagne, Zabou Breitman
Art director: Eléa Gobbé-Mévellec
Music: Alexis Rault
Editing: Françoise Bernard
Voices: Zita Hanrot, Swann Arlaud, Simon Abkarian, Hiam Abbass
Producers: Ivan Rouvere, Reginald de Guillebon, Michel Merkt
Production: Les Armateurs, Mélusine Productions, Close Up Films, ARTE France Cinéma, RTS - Radio Télévision Suisse, KNM
Distribution: Celluloid Dreams
Distribution in Slovenia (from 2020): Društvo za oživljanje zgodbe 2 koluta
Was it an interesting project for me? Yes – indeed the idea had enormous appeal, but only on the condition I could do it my way. This mean the characters would have to be carried by the actors’ performances, instead of having the actors work in service of pre-determined gestures or expressions. From the start I said: “This is going to need to be extremely well acted.” And not just well spoken – the characters’ movement, rhythm, and breath had to all hit the right notes.
- Zabou Breitman
In terms of story, there was the opportunity to turn it into something incredible using animation. The extreme abstraction and sense of time that animation brings can help create a kind of softness that’s conducive to representing the hardness of this narrative. Drawing it brings a distance that allows us to stand the images. I don’t know how well we could withstand a live action film on the same subject. It would be too violent. And seeing Eléa’s sketches, the project’s outlook and perspectives really felt quite glorious: everything became achievable, even beauty.
- Zabou Breitman
As I did research and learned more, I saw a potential for graphic richness that you can’t find anywhere else. We had the opportunity to shine a specific light on this complicated story the characters are living through. The opportunity to relate something extremely strong based on a powerful visual concept – that was something that definitely interested and inspired me.
- Eléa Gobbé-Mévellec
- Nominated for Un Certain Regard Award, Cannes Film Festival 2019
- Diamond Valois for Best Film, Valois for Best Film Score, Angoulême Francophone Film Festival, 2019
- Gan Foundation Award for Distribution, Annecy International Animated Film Festival 2018
- Nominated for Best Feature Film, Annecy International Animated Film Festival, 2019
- Nominated for Best Animated Feature, Ottawa International Animation Festival 2019
- Nominated for European Animated Feature Film, European Film Awards 2019