To mark the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine, Academy Award-winning animation studio Aardman and international children’s charity Save the Children have released a short film to highlight the experience of refugee children around the world.
Inspired by real-life experiences of children that Save the Children works with, Home tells a story about how child refugees feel and what it’s like to be separated from friends, family and school in a new and unfamiliar setting. It also celebrates the possibilities for children to welcome new refugee friends and learn about different cultures. Created by director Peter Peake, Home will be screened in primary schools across the U.K. alongside its general release.
Although prompted by the outbreak of war in Ukraine, the four-minute animation aims to support the many millions of children who have been forced to leave their homes because of violence in countries including Ukraine, Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria.
The film reflects the stories of many real refugee children, such as the 11-year-old dubbed “Siraj,” who left Syria for Italy and shared, “When we arrived, I was sad, I was leaving all my friends, my family and my cousins. The language here is different.”
Another Syrian refugee, “Noura,” 12, explained, “We are refugees, but we are proud. We haven’t ended up here because we wanted to, but because we had to. If you have a refugee near you, I think you should try to welcome them.”
The short follows a small orange circle who arrives at a new school in an entirely purple world, inhabited solely by triangle characters. The orange circle immediately feels out of place, struggling with the language barrier and strange new food. But, through a blossoming friendship with a fellow pupil, they begin to feel welcome and accepted. As that happens, little bursts of orange start to appear in the purple surroundings, elevating the landscape to a richer, warmer and more diverse environment. The film then shows different characters of all shapes and hues that bring their own unique colors to the previously monochrome surroundings, transforming it into a thriving and vibrant world full of energy and color.
“Animation is an amazing medium for expressing ideas that would otherwise be difficult to communicate. At Aardman we believed that we had the expertise to help tell these stories in a way that would be sensitive, accessible, and relatable for children all around the world,” said Peter Lord, Co-Founder & Creative Director of Aardman. “It was also vital that the film we created would share the right messages, address a genuine need, and help as many children as possible. We approached Save the Children to help us with these aspects, and to keep us on the right track and we were absolutely delighted with the collaboration.”
Like many of Aardman’s most beloved animated brands, from Shaun the Sheep to Morph, the story of Home is told without using dialog, which means its message is accessible to children and adults of all ages, everywhere.
“Our film was created as a specific response to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, but it aims to help all children displaced from their homes due to war, famine and persecution. Working with Save the Children, we learnt what difficulties children face when trying to settle in a new country,” said director Peake (Oscar-nominated short Humdrum, Creature Comforts: Life in Lockdown). “Ultimately, we hope the film encourages children everywhere to empathize with some of their peers who might be going through that experience and to know the impact they can have by making someone feel welcome”
Alison Griffin, Head of Conflict & Humanitarian Campaigns from Save the Children, added, “We were absolutely thrilled to partner with Aardman in making this film. Many refugee children who’ve found a new, safer home, still carry the physical and emotional scars of war, or face daily setbacks simply because of who they are or where they’ve come from. That’s why it’s so important for refugee children to get the welcome — and the childhood — they deserve. We hope this beautiful short film will inspire people to reach out to child refugees, welcome them, and help them feel somewhere like ‘home’ again.”
Persistent, violent conflict is putting children’s lives at risk all over the world. According to Save the Children, a child has been made a refugee by the war in Ukraine almost every second since it began. To contribute to Save the Children’ Emergency Fund to support their work responding to disasters around the world, visit their U.K. website or U.S. website.
Learn more about Home, watch the short and see a behind the scenes featurette here.