The story first started turning heads in 2015 after a viral video showing a dad picking up a new addition to the family caused an online sensation. The short film shows the father driving up to what appears to be an orphanage where a young redhead girl is waiting for him on the steps. She climbs into the passenger seat, clutching her favorite doll. Initially shy, the new Dad’s gentle reassuring pat on the head brings a smile to her face, and as they drive, he shares a snack with her.
At home, another girl is drawing as her mom gives her a kiss on the cheek. Dad enters with the redheaded youngster, and despite initial tension, the other girl welcomes her excitedly. The redhead timidly approaches the mom, eventually bonding with her new sister. However, things change after happy moments; the redhead shows signs of isolation, nervousness around noise, and a fear of bright lights. Bad behavior follows.
She spills wine, causing the mom to shout, and her sister no longer wants to play. In a moment of boredom or frustration, the sister begins to dismantle the redhead’s favorite doll. Seeking affection, the redhead annoys mom, who pushes her away. Dad, busy on the computer, also rejects her attempts at play. She’s never allowed to eat at the family table.
The family, feeling burdened, questions why they welcomed her. They devise a plan to deal with her behavior. Dad takes her to a remote road, distracts her, then abandons her with her doll. As he drives away, he checks the rearview mirror. Strangely, what he sees waiting next to the doll isn’t the girl, but a faithful dog. The film, “Gift,” by Dead Lens Pictures, highlights animal abuse.
Director Zophia Zberry emphasized the parallel between mistreatment of animals and humans. She aimed to draw attention to abandoned and abused animals. The film’s starkness aimed to grab attention and has amassed over 24 million views on YouTube. Zberry hopes to influence positive change.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, millions of pets enter shelters yearly, with many euthanized. The canine star, Heather, rescued from a Hungarian shelter, played a role in this powerful film. Heather and the redheaded girl, Juli, were well looked after during production.