British Girl From Save the Children's Famous PSA Is Now a Refugee in This Brutal Sequel

Two years after making one of the most famous PSAs about the Syrian crisis, Save the Children has unleashed a sequel—which follows the girl from the original as she flees the war zone and becomes a refugee.

Lauded for its brutal, cinematic imagery and its creative path to empathy, the original spot, which has 53 million views and counting, imagined if the war in Syria were to happen in London. It used the structure of popular one-second-a-day videos to show an ordinary middle-class British girl’s world falling apart over a year, from birthday to birthday, as her country plunges into war.

The new video, shot in the same style by the same agency (Don’t Panic London), catches up with the same girl—11-year-old Lily—as she flees the U.K. as a refugee. Two years on, things have deteriorated for Lily, just as they have for kids in Syria and for Syrian child refugees.

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Stunning PSA Shifts Time to Undo the Killing on a Syrian School Playground

Martin Stirling already directed one powerful PSA about Syria—Save the Children’s incredible spot from last spring, which imagined if the crisis were taking place in London. But the Unit 9 director wasn’t finished.

With the United Nations General Assembly meeting next week, the world’s leading NGOs—Oxfam, Save the Children, Care, Amnesty and a hundred more—have banded together for a new PSA, directed by Stirling, that attempts to capture the horrors being endured by ordinary Syrians on a daily basis.

See the spot here:

The stylistic choice of using reverse footage almost becomes a moral choice here—it’s the hook that makes the piece haunting, and shareable, and thus capable of making a difference. The film is the centerpiece in the NGOs’ #WithSyria campaign, which drives viewers to a petition asking the UN Security Council to take next steps to protect civilians.

ISIS is dominating the headlines today, but the plight of ordinary Syrians remains critical. The death toll in Syria is now close to 200,000. Most of the civilian deaths are caused by “barrel bombs”—oil drums filled with explosives, chemical weapons and rusty nails, dropped from Syrian regime helicopters into populated areas. The same areas are often hit twice in quick succession in order to kill first responders.

“I really had no choice about whether or not to make this film,” Stirling says in a statement. “I was swamped by a couple of projects, and I tried my best to walk away but found it impossible. Whenever I thought about not making this film I was haunted by the images and stories I had come across in preparation for the ‘Most Shocking Second A Day Video’ earlier in the year.

“This film felt like an appropriate follow-up to that first one—it was creatively and stylistically different in a way which would hopefully capture the attention of a wide audience and the hearts of influential policy makers.”

Credits below.

Production Company: Unit 9 Films
Director/Writer: Martin Stirling
Producer/Exec Producer: Michelle Craig
DOP: Carl Burke
Focus Puller: Jonny Franklin
Researcher: Harry Starkey Midha
Production Partner: Atlantik Films
Editor: Alex Burt
Grade: Un1t Post
Colorist: Simon Astbury
Sound Design: Jon Clarke
Post-Sound Producer: Rebecca Bell
VFX + Post: Cherry Cherry
VFX Supervisors: Nico Cotta, Tony Landais
Compositors: Ergin Ishakoglu, James Cornwell, Doruk Saglam, Utku Ertin, Mertcan Ag, Nico Cotta, Otis Guinness-Walker
CG Artists: Bogi Gulacsi, Ceyhan Kapusuz, Zeynep Onder, Tony Landais
Digital Matte Painters: Stuart Tozer, Richard Tilbury
Executive Producer: Chris Allen
Line Producer: Sezen Akpolat
Music: ‘Youth’ Daughter
With Thanks to Matt Brown and Steph Hamill

Banksy Reworks ‘Balloon Girl’ in Campaign for Syria’s Children

Banksy's "Balloon Girl" provides a fitting image for the children whose lives have been ravaged by Syria's civil war, which just entered its third year.

The British street artist drew some criticism in October for the "awkward politics" of his satirical video about the conflict. His balloon imagery in this new "With Syria" awareness campaign, however, based on his stencil from 2002, has met with considerable praise, and rightly so.

We've seen several stirring calls to aid Syria's children recently. They include a PSA in which physicist Stephen Hawking gives voice to their plight, and a video that imagines if the horrors took place in London. (Both are from Save the Children.)

"With Syria" is no less powerful, and its duality is striking, encompassing both hope and regret. The hopeful message of kids lifted above violence and strife toward a better future (represented with soul and simplicity in the "With Syria" video) has received the most attention.

The regretful message is subtler. A child clutching for a balloon suggests a childhood lost. Forever. That fate has befallen far too many Syrian kids already. More will suffer if we don't rise to the challenge and bring about meaningful change.

The animated spot was written and created by Sunshine, and directed and produced by RSA Films. Idris Elba does the voiceover. Elbow contributed exclusive music.



Heartbreaking PSA Features Real Quotes From Syrian Children, Voiced by Stephen Hawking

The children of Syria don’t have a voice, so rock star physicist Stephen Hawking is lending them his.

Hawking is a man who knows what it's like to live without a literal voice. And in case you missed his op-ed in the Washington Post and elsewhere, he feels passionately that the youth of Syria need people to speak about the injustice they're suffering.

On this, the third anniversary of the conflict, with both sides escalating the violence and targeting civilians, Save the Children U.K. is pushing hard for more international attention. Earlier this month, the group struck publicity gold with its gut-wrenching "Most Shocking Second a Day" from Don’t Panic, which has been viewed more than 27 million times.

Created by agency adam&eveDDB, the new spot below featuring Hawking isn't as visually stunning as the nonprofit's viral hit, but it is conceptually perfect.

Unlike the earlier video, we aren't seeing a fiction. We are seeing the real children of Syria whose lives have been torn apart. As we contemplate their portraits and realize these kids could be any kids from our block, Hawking's unmistakable speech synthesizer gives voice to their words. It is a voice that is no less moving for the lack of inflection. And this time, the call to action is explicit.

"The children of Syria have no voice. That is why I'm giving them mine. What will you give?" he says. We're prompted to enter an SMS code to automatically donate to Save the Children U.K. And we'd better listen. If we don't, says Professor Hawking, our apathy could mean the very downfall of our humanity, for without the universal principle of justice, "before long, human beings will surely cease to exist."

Agency: adam&eveDDB
Executive Creative Directors: Ben Priest, Ben Tollett, Emer Stamp
Copywriter: Michael Burke
Art Director: Ben Tollett
Media Agency: JAA
Media Planner: Nick Smith
Production Company: Pulse
Director: Matt Hougton
Editing: Work Post
Editor: Rachel Spann
Postproduction: MPC
Audio Postproduction: Clearcut Sound


U.N. Denies That Syria Image Was Faked

A photograph of hungry Palestinians in Syria, retweeted more than eight million times, has become an iconic image of the war. Experts said it was real.


Three Years Later, We Finally Have a Brutally Powerful Ad About the Crisis in Syria

For PSA campaigns aimed at getting people to help the children of Syria, job one is making the crisis feel immediate rather than remote.

Last month's hidden-camera stunt in Norway, in which a child sat freezing without a coat at a bus stop in winter, did just that. Now, Save the Children has released its own U.K. campaign to make the horror in Syria feel real—the 90-second video below, which does so to devastating effect.

The ad, by creative agency Don't Panic, imagines if what has happened in Syria were to happen in London. Amazingly shot, it uses the structure of the popular one-second-a-day videos to show an ordinary girl's world falling apart over a period of a year (from birthday to birthday)—as her comfortable middle-class existence evaporates and she finds herself a homeless and fatherless refugee amid the horrors of war.

The video coincides with the buildup to the third anniversary of the Syrian crisis, which has left 100,000 people dead and 2 million more as refugees. On-screen text at the end reads: "Just because it isn't happening here doesn't mean it isn't happening."

"It's easy to forget that Syria was a middle income country, where children enjoyed the benefits of education, healthcare and the other basic rights our children take for granted—not to mention Facebook accounts, video games and youth culture," says Jack Lundie, director of brand and communications at Save the Children.

"We hope the video will resonate with the public, particularly those who don't know much about the situation in Syria, and offer a new perspective on the devastating impact this conflict is having on innocent Syrian children."


Istanbul Journal: Pirate Radio Gives Voice to Syrian Opposition

Over a dozen opposition radio stations broadcast into Syria, and some activists try to keep their signals, and themselves, alive by running operations from places like Turkey.


Rights Lawyer Among 4 Abducted in Syria; 2 Journalists Are Also Being Held

The abduction of the lawyer, Razan Zeitouneh, came hours after relatives and colleagues of two Spanish journalists kidnapped by Islamists in September in northern Syria made their plight public.


Assad Denies Chemical Attack in Interview for U.S. Viewers

The interview with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, which took place on Sunday at the presidential palace in Damascus, will be broadcast on Monday by CBS and PBS.


For News From Syrian Battleground, a Reliance on Social Media

The dangers of news organizations reporting in Syria have kept most journalists outside the country’s borders and heightened the need for third-party video.


American Tells of Odyssey as Prisoner of Syrian Rebels

Matthew Schrier, a photographer, says he was held for seven months by jihadi fighters opposed to President Bashar al-Assad. After being robbed, tortured and accused of being an American spy, he escaped in July.


Journalists in Syria Face Dangers of War and Rising Risk of Abduction

The Committee to Protect Journalists has reported at least 14 journalists who are missing or have been abducted, but the total number of kidnappings is believed to be much higher.


Social Media’s Effects On Markets Concern Regulators

After a Twitter hoax caused the Dow to drop temporarily by 150 points, regulators are increasingly concerned about the combination of social media and high-frequency trading.


Syrian Newspapers Emerge to Fill Out War Reporting

The editor of Sham, a new weekly newspaper, said coverage of the war in Syria had been skewed by exaggerations and misinformation.

Lebanon Paper Launches Salvo Against Hariri Tribunal

A newspaper has published the names of likely witnesses in the murder trial of Rafik Hariri, the former prime minister who was assassinated in 2005.

Fadi doesn’t listen, because ….

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Advertising Agency: Publivision DDB, Syria
Creative Director: Dany Azzi
Photographer: Corbis