Student’s teddy bear animation highlights plight of refugees

An animated film depicting teddy bears as refugees by a Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries student at the University of Portsmouth has won an award from the charity Refugee Education Across Conflicts Trust (REACT).

BA (Hons) Animation student, Ellie Baily-Jones, created the film, The Teddy Bears Picnic, to educate young people about the plight of refugees. She won the award for Best Campaign film for her moving animation showing a family of teddy bears struggling to survive as refugees. Ellie said that she chose teddy bears because they universally signify children and safety so they would cross borders and languages and appeal to everyone who watched it.

“I wanted my film to appeal to adults and families wherever they are and so I had the idea to base the film on a nursery rhyme as it would appeal to both audiences. What you see is a family unit who appear to be on the run and it soon transpires that they are refugees.”

The charity told Ellie, 21, they had selected her film because it is told from a child’s perspective and even though the animation is quite simple it conveys a lot of emotion.

The film is the result of a course unit that asked students to create a one minute campaign for the charity. “The brief was very wide, simply to promote the charity’s campaign work with refugees in any way we chose and all the students went in completely different directions in terms of story and animation style,” Ellie said.

“I really enjoy storytelling and animation. I love the idea of creating short films and I am hoping to work as a 2D animator or art worker in children’s television. I would love to create my own television series for children.”

Ellie (right) receiving her awardEllie said she was overwhelmed to win the award. “It was completely unexpected but I’m really pleased and happy that my work has been formally recognised. Winning the award coincided with graduating this week with a first class degree so my confidence has rocketed and I feel like it’s shown me that I’m good enough to be an animator/storyteller and to make it my career.”

Producer Giovanna Stopponi and director Philip Cox, from Native Voice Films, created the REACT charity in 2008 with a mission is to provide long term educational needs and emergency protection to refugees. Giovanna presented Ellie with her award and a cheque for £250 at in Soho, which was the London Screening for the University’s BA (Hons) Animation Graduate Show.

Course Leader, Eva Palacios, said she was delighted with Ellie’s success and that she had been pleased with the way all of the students engaged in the social and political issues represented.

“The aim of the unit is to connect students with industry and I was delighted with the students’ response and their engagement with this current social issue,” says Eva. “Ellie is a very talented storyteller so I am very pleased she has won the award; it was well-deserved.”


Article Courtesy of the UoP Press Office

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