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Two award-wining, ground-breaking virtual reality films will be showcased at the American Corner this September. TREE by Milica Zec and Winslow Porter is a virtual-reality project that transports users into the body of a rainforest tree, where they can experience not only its splendor but also its untimely fate and LE LAC by Nyasha Kadandara, a poetic and immersive VR documentary that recently won the Best Digital Narrative Award at the prestigious Sheffield Documentary Film Festival.
TREE screens on Saturday September 7th and Monday September 9th. See and feel what it’s like to be one of the most essential building blocks of carbon-based life: a tree. This enhanced virtual reality experience allows you to become a seed that is planted and grows into a full-sized tree in a majestic rain forest. With your arms as the branches and your body as the trunk, you experience the tree’s growth from a seedling to its fullest form, taking on its role in the forest and witnessing its fate firsthand.
“Each element of our process helps to fully immerse viewers into a tree’s point of view,” say the filmmakers, “We hope that by going through a tree’s life cycle, both visually and physically, users can begin to rethink their current relationship to nature as human beings – and help transform it into one of mutuality and understanding.”
Following the exhibition of TREE on the 7th September filmmakers Milica Zec and Winslow Porter from their award-winning immersive content studio New Reality Company will present a masterclass titled From Ideation to Exhibition: Immersive Storytelling in VR where they share their insight on building AR/VR projects. Combining technologies like Unreal Engine, volumetric capturing and extra sensory elements, the duo re-imagines immersive storytelling from a multi-sensory approach.
Tree was selected for the Sundance Festival New Frontier, Tribeca Film Festival’s Virtual Arcade and TED 2017 The Future You in Vancouver and the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of New Champions. It has received a range of awards including the Games For Change Award for Most Innovative, Webby People’s Voice award for VR: Interactive, Game or Real-Time, and a Lumiere Award for Best VR Location Based Short and it will be showcased at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Cape Town from 4 – 6 September at the CTICC2 prior to this exhibition.
The second exhibition, LE LAC by Nyasha Kadandara, will take participants to the waters of Lake Chad, as the waters themselves share her story. Kadandara, a Zimbabwean-born visual storyteller based in East Africa, developed the project at Cape Town based Electric South’s New Dimensions Lab in 2017 and it recently scooped the top prize for Best Digital Narrative at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2019 where the jury praised it saying, “We loved the narrative device of using the lake as the main character and seeing through her eyes the changes to the environment, invoking empathy for the situation and people of Lake Chad.”
The VR documentary explores the effects of climate change and Boko Haram on Lake Chad, which has shrunk to 10% of its original size. The story is told by the poetic female voice of the lake and Le Lac is a dreamscape where liquid gives way to dust. The oasis of the Sahel, Lake Chad, is not who she used to be. Ninety percent of her water is gone, leaving her feeling depleted, wary, scared and insecure. Climate change has made the millions of people who depend on her vulnerable, and induced the threat of Boko Haram insurgency. In this immersive documentary, step into the lives of Mahamat, a once-wealthy pastoralist, and Nassuri, a refugee-turned-fisherman, as the lake herself hopes for their survival amidst her scattered ponds.
Expect to be impressed at the technology’s ability to transport you to other worlds, trick your mind into believing you’re really there and marvel at the empathetic, important messages the filmmakers share.