Aflac's first animated short film, The Park Bench, hails from a team of Black American creators, animators, agencies and producers with musical direction by Nas. The short film, directed by Rob Edwards, will premiere on Twitch Jan. 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. CT. It'll also be available to stream on Roku.
The film follows a girl whose father has been diagnosed with a disease that is prevalent in the African American community, sickle cell disease. According to the official description:
Through the eyes of a young girl whose father has been diagnosed with sickle cell disease, the story highlights the resulting impact of a medical event on the family. In a series of fractured images, we meet a young girl named Bella, who is scared and confused as she watches her mother care for her father in pain. When she finds herself alone on a park bench one day, she meets a duck with a broken wing. She brings the duck home and over time, the duck fills a void in her family’s lives with laughter and joy. When the family is whole again and Bella’s father appears looking healthier than he has in months, Bella and her parents walk the duck back to the park and say goodbye, leaving him to join others flying south for the winter. As he flies off into the sunset, the family knows they are stronger after surviving this tragedy.
The film hits at a point when many Americans are rethinking about the importance of healthcare.
"In 2020 and 2021, it was no secret that the world needed care, now more than ever. This film depicts the value of care – using the backdrop of a common family story – caring for each other in times of an unexpected medical crisis to show the power of this emotion," Aflac said in a statement. "It underscores the need to focus on what matters most during these times – recovery, and not finances."
Edwards, who also wrote the short film, is used to making African American history. He wrote Disney's first film featuring a Black American princess, The Princess and the Frog. The Park Bench is also produced by the only Black-owned animation studio in the u.s., Lion Forge Animation and its founder Carl Reed. Other names on the production team include Magnetic Dreams Animation Studio, the XP Agency, and The Monk Studios. The film was also chosen as an official selection for the Sundance Film Festival-associated event, Brand Storytelling. It was also an official selection for the Sedona International Film Festival.
Watch the trailer below: