The short and the short of it: The haunting exile of Migrants

(image courtesy First Showing)

“Two polar bears are driven into exile due to global warming. They will encounter brown bears along their journey, with whom they will try to cohabitate.” Migrants is a project made by students studying at PÔLE – a 2D & 3D animation cinema school based in Roubaix, France. It’s directed by these 5th year students: Hugo Caby, Antoine Dupriez, Lucas Lermytte, Zoé Devise, and Aubin Kubiak. The film is written by Lucas Lermytte. Exec produced by Carlos de Carvalho. With original music by Yann Menou. An Oscar-eligible short film, by winning the Best Animated Short Prize (at Cleveland IFF) & Best in Show Prize (at Siggraph). (synopsis courtesy First Showing)

There is so much storytelling power in the gentle stop-motion animation of Migrants.

Ostensibly the story of a mother polar bear and her cub having no choice but to escape to a new life when their old home becomes uninhabitable, this nuanced and moving tale manages to combine an exploration of the issues surrounding both climate change and the plight of refugees in a way that cuts through whatever resistance to discussing the issue anyone might have.

Unless your heart is made of concrete, and the discussions on some social media platforms would lead to believe that some people do, you can’t help but be moved by the searing poignancy of the polar bears’ plight who find themselves unable to stay in their beloved homeland but cruelly unwelcome in a new home where, while resources and room are abundant, kindness and empathetic inclusion is not.

Dialogue-free but rich in evocative imagery and thoughtful scenes which speak of desolation, fear and a desperate need to belong, Migrants is a story that everyone needs to see, if only so we understand how hard life can be for others and that we all have a role to play in making things better.

That might sound simplistic but it’s far from it; by putting ourselves in the shoes of others, and seeing the world as they see it, issues suddenly because far less us vs. them and far more simply us, and after the normality-shredding horrors of the pandemic, surely we could all do with more of that?

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