Holiday fable for Montefiore-Einstein celebrates the magic of true caring

(Wonderful Holiday spot launches tomorrow)

A new holiday film and campaign from New York-based Montefiore-Einstein launching on Thursday during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade celebrates the magic of care and the 20th anniversary of Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM).

The campaign was developed by Alto New York. The film reminds us that the most magical way to see the holidays is through the eyes of a child and the gift of health in 2021.

Alto and Montefiore-Einstein have become known for its unconventional approach to creative efforts, elevating it leagues above the competition. (ICYMI, check out what the hospital was behind this summer when it paired the tools of Hollywood with a very real need to source live donors for transplant patients).

In it, we watch the emotional tale of a child and her beloved best friend, Uni, a stuffed animal unicorn. The girl takes her injured unicorn to the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore where a team of surgeons saves her best friend, reattaching the broken horn before something truly captivating happens.

The story serves as both fable and metaphor for the magic that coincides with receiving life-saving care, and the world-class medical treatment and innovation the children’s hospital has provided over the course of the past decades to children in New York and around the globe. 

Included in the campaign are real Montefiore-Einstein Physicians, Surgeons, Anesthesiologists and Pediatric Specialists from the Children’s Hospital. The care for Uni, the unicorn was unmatched. Watch below:

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“There’s a magic to the holidays and to the medical care Montefiore provides. This film lives at the intersection of the two,” said Hannes Ciatti, founder and Chief Creative Officer at Alto. “It creates another holiday icon for a brand that truly believes in justice in medicine and world-class healthcare being accessible to every child in New York and beyond. Over the years we’ve worked with Montefiore-Einstein, we’ve focused on building narratives that capture the true power of care that these amazing humans provide New Yorkers every day.”

Behind the Scenes

Alto partnered with Radical Media’s Academy Award-nominated director Derek Cianfrance, Good Stranger, and Method Studios, and pioneered combining stop-motion animation with real-person talent.

Directed by Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines, The Light Between Oceans), the film’s production team was comprised of Cianfrance’s award-winning collaborators from his feature film projects. 

The track behind the spot, I’m Sticking with You by Velvet Underground, beautifully parallels the emotion that the spot exudes from viewers. The creative team at Alto wrote the film script with academy-award nominee Derek Cianfrance, and together created a narrative that fit with the song’s lyrics, interweaving audio with powerful messages of connection imbued in the song itself.

The team pioneered combining stop-motion animation with real-person talent and puppeteering. 

Cianfrance wanted the unicorn to be brought to life in a tangible way, to exist in the realm of the real, physical world in which the film was shot. The classic stop-motion aesthetic adds to the romantic holiday feel of the film and channels the magic of a beloved plush unicorn coming to life through a child’s eyes.

“The intention was to make a Christmas fable that taps into the magic and wonder of childhood. And what’s more magical and wondrous than a unicorn?” said director Derek Cianfrance. “To me, the story is metaphorical. The unicorn represents something we care for deeply, something we wish to preserve, to rescue, to save. It could be a family member, a friend, or even ourselves. But I leave the specificity of the metaphor in the hands of the audience to interpret as they wish.”

To further support the lovable unicorn featured in the film, Alto is creating replicas of the plush toy, making it available to children everywhere. With a buy one gift one model, a unicorn will be gifted to every child receiving care at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore. 

The team created a unique look rarely utilized in stop-motion animation, seamlessly blending live action with an interactive animated element. Once the two highly-technical elements were blended together, the stop-motion animated unicorn seemingly came to life in the film’s physical space. The approach bucked the traditional stop-motion format, which is typically executed at a small scale. In this film, the Unicorn is full size within the film’s environment.