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The beauty and brutality of “Migrants,” an animation by French school students

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The climate threat has reached a critical stage. It won’t be long before it arrives. The polar bears are the first to learn of this because melting ice caps force them to relocate, taking their young with them. If a critical threshold is crossed in the climate’s transition, our world will be completely unfamiliar in a few decades.

The animation, which is the creation of fifth-year animation students Zoé Devise, Hugo Caby, Antoine Dupriez, and Lucas Lermytte who attend French Pôle 3D school, is based on a simple plot:
A mother polar bear and her youngster flee the Arctic as styrofoam icebergs break apart in the water, making their previously frozen habitat unsuitable.
Migrants” is a stunning example of social commentary and technical mastery. It is beautiful enough to qualify for inclusion in any art exhibition but disturbing enough to be recognized by everyone who has seen it.

The heartfelt short goes into greater depth than climate-change stories that just focus on the immediate aftermath of a hurricane, fire, or in this case, an entire continent that is melting. Instead, “Migrants” examines the challenges individuals fleeing war or persecution face when they are uprooted, as well as the cute plush cub’s startled looks and frightened whimpers, which provide a sense of empathy that is often lacking from recent talks and debates. In an interview, the filmmakers discussed their approach:

We knew we wanted to make a film about current themes and concerns in society. There was a controversy in 2018 about the “Aquarius” boat, which had saved refugees in the Mediterranean Sea, but no nation wanted to let it dock at its ports. This moved us, and we took inspiration from it as the basis for our film. As a result, we created a tale about migration issues, but with an added global warming theme. As polar bears are one species most affected by global warming, they served as our protagonists.

The moving film has already won several awards at festivals, and it’s likely to receive an Oscar nomination. To see more student creations, go to Pôle 3D’s Vimeo.

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