Greenpeace France has a new ad for the holidays adeptly tying the beauty of handmade gifts from objects a child “finds” around the house and the dangers of air pollution, imploring viewers to, “Help us make our cities breathable. Act on www.greepeace.fr/Xmask.” The piece by Passion Animation Studios’ Anna Mantzaris pulls off a sentimental Christmas feel without being cloying—partly because of the adeptness of the felt puppets and expertly lit indoor and outdoor scenes. In addition it calls attention to an important mission for global environmentalists like Greenpeace.
Ending with the Xmask pledge and the information that 5.5 million people die prematurely every year from breathing polluted air, “The Handmade Gift,” tells the story of a little girl who appears to be protecting her bear from the cold, but it turns out she’s worried about his health due to the pollution in the air around them. In order to protect him, she uses her resources to find, stash, or grab objects around the home and make his Christmas gift—a lovely handmade breathing mask, which both surprises and seems to concern her family.
The film ends with the message that no mask or scarf is effective against air pollution. The stark contrast of charming felted family scenes against the dire messaging is quite effective and is part of a larger push by Greenpeace and other organizations for France to remedy it’s record that, according to the World Health Organization, has three out of four children breathing toxic air.