A Heartwarming Short Animated Film


Short Film Umbrella


Films give us the opportunity to see the world from a different perspective and help us develop a better understanding of what others think and feel. Although the short film Umbrella is not primarily an account of the refugee experience, it helps us to understand what it means to be a refugee child. The inspiring story evokes empathy and touches the hearts of viewers young and old.

The animated film by Brazilian filmmakers Helena Hilario & Mario Pece is based on a true story experienced by Hilario's sister. It is about Joseph, a boy in an orphanage who meets a little girl with a yellow umbrella who brings back memories of his father. The film has been nominated in several film festivals and has won several awards. According to Hilario, “We always wanted to make a film without dialogue and use animation, music, and the narrative itself to evoke deep emotions and reflections.”(Cartoon Brew Connect)




Exploiting the film in the classroom


Umbrella is suitable for students at different levels in the EFL classroom because it has no spoken dialogues and the tasks can be adapted to the students’ level. The following example shows how the film can be used as a lead-in to the topic of refugees.  



Pre-viewing task


Ask students to describe an object that is special to them and explain what makes it special.



While-viewing task


Ask students to pay attention to the following questions while watching the film:


  • Who are the protagonists?
  • Where does the action take place?
  • What happens in the course of the film?
  • How does the story end?
  • How does the film make you feel?


After watching the film, ask the last question first. Next, students fill in a story map based on the above questions. A template can be downloaded here:




After finishing the task, students give feedback in the plenary or in small groups depending on the class size. In this way, they can compare their interpretations of the story.



Post-viewing activities


     For lower-level students:


Ask students or pairs of students to write a short summary in the present tense for a friend based on the story map and to comment on the film. When they are finished, they can share their stories in small groups and revise them by correcting each other and adding details.



Facts about refugees


The little boy Joseph portrayed in the short film Umbrella is just one of many people who are a refugee. Ask students to have a look at the statistics on refugees on the following website:




What facts surprise you?


Do you know any refugees? What is their story?


Find out some information about refugees in your town and talk about it in the next session.




For higher-level students (from level B2):


Ask students to take the viewpoint of one of the characters in the film and write an account of the story from the his or her point of view (in the past tense). Those students who have described the same point of view can share and revise their stories. Finally, some or all the stories are shared in mixed groups or in the plenary depending on the size of the group.


    What is a refugee?


Ask students how they would define a refugee. According to the 1951 Refugee Convention, a refugee is “someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.”



Facts about refugees


Ask students to read the information on the following website:







Which facts are probably true for Joseph, the boy in the short film?


Do you know any refugees? What is their story?


Find out some information about refugees in your town and talk about it in the next session.




Umbrella at a glance




Release date

December 25, 2020




Screenwriters and directors

Helena Hilario, Mario Pece


Gabriel Dib


The story of a boy who lives in an orphanage and whose memories are evoked by a yellow umbrella


Culture portrayed

A universal story related to the refugee experience


Important aspects

Refugee experience, traumatic experience of loss



No spoken dialogues


Production company


Country of production



8 minutes



on YouTube


More information







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