A stunning work of both social commentary and technical dexterity, “Migrants” explores the heartbreaking aftermath of a climate disaster. The animation—which is an impressive collaboration between fifth-year animations students Zoé Devise, Hugo Caby, Antoine Dupriez, Aubin Kubiak, and Lucas Lermytte, who are currently enrolled at the French Pôle 3D school—centers on a simple story: a mother polar bear and her cub flee their arctic habitat as styrofoam icebergs crumble into the water and their once-frozen home becomes unlivable. As they encounter insensitive brown bears in a lush, green climate, the duo struggles to survive.
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Through knitted patchwork characters and sets digitally crafted to evoke stop-motion techniques, the poignant short expands on climate crisis narratives that explore only the immediate effects of a hurricane, fire, or in this case, an entire region of the planet that’s melting. Instead, “Migrants” includes the difficulty refugees face when they’re displaced by such events, and the adorable, plush cub’s scared expressions and fearful whimpers generate a dose of empathy often lacking from today’s conversations and debates. In an interview diving into their process, the directors said:
We knew we wanted to make a short film about society and current issues. In 2018, there was a controversy about the “Aquarius” boat, which had rescued migrants in the Mediterranean sea but no country wanted to allow the boat to land at its ports. We were touched by this, and we were inspired by this event as the subject for our movie. So we made a story about the issue of migration, but with the global warming theme layered on top of it. With polar bears as our main characters, as they are one of the species most affected by climate change.
According to Short of the Week, the moving film already has garnered multiple awards from festivals, and it’s likely in the running for an Oscar. Head to Pôle 3D’s Vimeo to watch more student creations.