Operation Smile Makes Brandan a New Boy

Cape Town - 200,000 children worldwide are born with facial deformities like cleft palates and lips. Saatchi & Saatchi Cape Town has documented the story of just one of these children and how 90 minutes changed their life forever.

The agency has created an emotive short 8-minute documentary, which tells the humble and heartfelt story of four-year old Brandan Aries who was part of the Operation Smile Referral System, caring for people with cleft palates independently of their missions conducted.

The documentary is told through the very emotional narration of his father, and documents Brandan and his father Dawie Smit's love story and small journey that made a big difference to this little boy's life.

Brandan was born in 2005 with a cleft lip; statistically he is 1 in 700 children that are born this way around the world. The documentary chronicles his experience living with the facial deformity in the small town of Graaff Reinet in the Eastern Cape and follows his amazing journey to Cape Town for his operation and the following months after his recovery.

He was chosen as a patient as part of the Operation Smile South Africa's Referral System, which allowed Brandan to travel to Cape Town on the 19th of December 2009 for his life-changing operation.

Sammy-Jane Thom, Creative Group Head at Saatchi & Saatchi Cape Town says, "The documentary filming began early December in 2009 with a trip to Brandan's home before his surgery, we then followed his journey to Cape Town where his surgery took place, returning in March this year to visit Brandan to document the change in his life."

"When we returned to Graaff Reinet he was nearly impossible to film," Thom adds. "His confidence levels had shot up dramatically, he talked non-stop which he had refused to do before his operation. His dad now tells us that no-one whispers hushed words behind his back and he plays all over the place, he is full of life, even walking back from the Spaza shop with a friend."

Thom concludes, "The documentary is a true, simple story told with integrity and has in no way been manipulated. We hope that this honesty will inspire those who see it and hopefully will give children suffering from these facial abnormalities a chance at a new life."

The emotion felt at first viewing of the documentary is overwhelming, says Operation Smile's Scarlett Steer.  "Many parents often don't know that these facial abnormalities can be corrected with proper care or they simply do not have access to the medical treatment, so, they prepare their children for a life marred by pointing fingers and hushed whispers on their appearance. This is exactly how Dawie Smit felt for his son, until he was offered the free surgery from our organisation."

"Not only was Brandan's aesthetic quality affected, he had trouble eating, refused to speak and was living in isolation after being shunned from his community. We hope that the documentary is going to raise awareness of how 90 minutes can change a child's life forever," comments Steer.

Saatchi & Saatchi Cape Town has been involved with Operation Smile South Africa for the last four years, handling all marketing and communication collateral. "We jumped at the opportunity to produce something a bit more substantial than an ad that would illustrate how important the organisation's work is," concludes Thom.

For more information or to get involved: http://southafrica.operationsmile.org/


Credits:
Director: Bauke Brouwer
Producer: Candice Brouwer
Creative Head: Sammy-Jane Thom
Camera Gear: Tiger Media
Music & Sound Composition: Big Leap Studio
Post Production: Waterfront Studios / Condor