The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has just released a campaign short based on the work of photographer Brian Sokol. In the brief production, A-listers such as Cate Blanchett, Kit Harington, and Neil Gaiman recite the rhythmic poem “What They Took With Them" by Jenifer Toksvig. The poem, along with the accompanying video and still imagery, urges us to sign the #WithRefugees petition to help ensure that refugees across the world have the basic necessities needed to rebuild their lives: education, a safe environment, and work opportunities.
But it is the infusion of Brian Sokol’s portrait work that really gives “What They Took With Them” visual weight. Much of the still imagery incorporated into the video is from Sokol’s "The Most Important Thing," a longterm project that documents the plight of refugees from around the world. From Syria to Sudan, he has collected firsthand testimonies and powerful portraits of those forced to flee their homes. A large part of the project is dedicated to documenting the items that these very refugees took along with them. It is in this work that Toksvig found her poetic inspiration and that the UNHCR has based their campaign film.
For many creatives, the pinnacle of success is found in fame and fortune. For others, a successful career can be defined by the positive effect their work has on others. Here we find actors, poets, and photographers working together to ease the suffering of a vast and growing population. Learn more about the petition here.