HUGE, New York / SOJOURN HOUSE / 2019
Write a short summary of what happens in the film
We open on a frenetic montage of scenes of war: bombs dropping, buildings exploding, people running away in fear. The edit gets faster and faster, and then: quiet, ghostly shots of former homes now reduced to rubble. Over this, a haunting rendition of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” starts to play: an iconic, universally beloved song that (usually) represents the joy of the holidays.
We follow refugees as they embark on the journey of leaving their homes: families walking through fields, crowds crossing bridges, kids running through makeshift camps. We see people carrying their belongings. Parents carrying children. We follow them through deserts and across highways, until: water, the lifeboat, the lingering promise of a new life. “I’ll be home for Christmas...if only in my dreams.”
Our message appears: “There’s no going home when you’ve been forced to leave it. Donate today to help refugees feel at home again.”
Cultural/Context information for the jury
We launched the film in December, a timely month. Because in Canada, December is the time to celebrate the winter holidays and be with family. “Going home for the holidays” is something most Canadians do. Nothing is more symbolic of the holidays here than Christmas music—a collection of songs that we hear every December, played everywhere we go. The song we used, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”, is the most iconic of them all. It has crossed religious denominations to evoke the joys of spending holidays at home, for any culture.
December is also a time of gift-giving, and generosity towards the less fortunate. It’s when Canadians are most likely to donate to charity. We decided to take advantage of this time and cultural headspace to encourage Canadians to donate to Sojourn House, by reminding them that unlike them, refugees don’t have the option of going “home for the holidays.”
Tell the jury about the choice of music track.
We used “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”—the beloved, iconic Christmas song that’s crossed cultural boundaries to represent the universal joy of being home for the holidays—in a completely subverted and disarming way: juxtaposing against the plight of refugees who don’t have the option of going home. Instead of being celebratory, our cover of the song is haunting, with sparse instrumentation and a mournful voice that highlight the bleak reality of the refugee crisis.
We also chose this song for its lyrics, which provided an opportunity to create visual contrast with the refugee footage. For example, when the singer says “Please have snow and mistletoe and presents on the tree,” what we see is refugees in a barren camp waiting for meager food parcels. As for the ending, “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams” gives footage of refugees on lifeboats another layer of emotional context.
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