The UNVR team has curated a special selection of immersive experiences for the festival, which transports viewers into the lives of people around the globe not normally met, and places not normally seen.  The exhibition will include several premiers, and never before seen previews of content from the UN system and other creators who align with the UN’s mission. This showcase will also include selections from the 360′ Challenge, a program coordinated by Digital Promise Global and Oculus with high schools across the United States from 2016-2017. Watch more youth produced 360° films by going to http://global.digitalpromise.org/360-filmmakers-challenge/gallery/

Since January 2015, the UN SDG Action Campaign has coordinated the United Nations Virtual Reality Project to bring the world’s most pressing challenges closer to decision makers and global citizens around the world, pushing the boundaries of empathy. UNVR shows the human stories behind development challenges, allowing those in power to make a difference as they gain a deeper understanding of the everyday realities of people who are in danger of being left behind. It uses the power of immersive storytelling to inspire viewers towards increased empathy, action and positive social change. The series provides a deeper understanding for those living in the most complex development challenges, catalyzing urgency for those most in danger of being left behind if the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are not met.

The VR Zone will be located in the Rotunde. www.UNVR.org  

Official Selections

Terres D’Exploration: British Columbia, Canada – February, 2018. Directed by Damien Briguet and Francois-Xavier “Fis” De Ruydts. Produced by Magali Gillon for Unis TV
Terres D’Exploration is a unique opportunity to teleport to the caves and glaciers that define the beauty of Canada’s arctic region. This photorealistic, room-scale VR experience allows you to walk around and feel the aura of a landscape that is changing by the day. It’s an example of how photogrammetry, an advanced 3D modelling technique, is preserving the current state of the planet’s wonders for generations to come.
As tends to work well with VR experiences, Terres D’Exploration is a companion piece to a TV series produced by UNIS TV. More information can be found on this documentation of Canada’s norther reaches here: https://www.terresdexploration.ca/media/

Guardians of the Forest (09:52): Brazil, Expected release date April 2018 – Directed by Benjamin Ross & Brittany Neff, a CoReality & Scenic production.

The Amazon is burning. Decades of environmental protections have been undone and ecological devastation has accelerated to an unimaginable pace and scale. The Guardians of the Forest, a volunteer monitoring force of the Guajajara tribe, are the last line of defense for the rainforest in the heart of an industrialized Amazon. The Guardians, led by international activist Sônia Guajajara, struggle to leverage what few resources they have to fight for the life of the planet. In this immersive 360 video documentary, Sônia brings audiences on a journey into her culture and on an expedition into the rainforest to bring illegal loggers to justice. Along the way, we gain deeper insight into the roots of the crisis and see the Guajajara vision for the future.

The Journey (10:00): Chad, Ethiopia, Nigeria, March 2018 – UNICEF and Picture Films Productions. Directed by Charlotte Mikkelborg

‘The Journey’ is an innovative Virtual Reality experience that engages the viewer in three young lives, following their journey as they attempt to survive, thrive and prosper in three of the toughest environments across the world – Ethiopia, South Sudan and Chad.

The story is told through different stages of childhood and youth. Amina, a 3-year old malnourished girl in remote Ethiopia receiving critical nutrition support to help her survive, Changkouth a 10-year old boy in South Sudan who has been reunified with his family, is learning again and recovering from the horrors of war and displacement, and Mani, a 19-year old in Chad, who is HIV positive and is connecting with her peers to change perspectives in her community and beyond.

The film highlights how the support and opportunities provided at pivotal moments in their young lives can make the difference between life or death, the decision to flee or not, the chance to develop and progress, or be trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty and violence.

Through a blend of stereoscopic filming and animation, the three key characters take the viewers into their world to understand the importance of those key moments that can change a life forever.

Lebanon, March, 2018 – UN Women. Directed by Nathan Beriro

Zainab and her children fled their home is Syria to seek refuge in Beirut, Lebanon. Their new lives as refugees are fraught with daily struggles but Zainab is determined to improve her family’s existence. With the help of a local initiative to improve the lives of vulnerable women, Zainab takes hold of her destiny and gives her family a second chance. Step into the world of urban refugees, and follow one family as they navigate their new reality after a harrowing flight from Syria.

Exodus (08:57): Kenya, February 2018– Deep VR
Be physically immersed in the herds making up part of the two million wildebeest that embark on a long and treacherous journey in an endless chase toward the rains. Square off with predators in the plains of the Maasai Mara, and stand on the banks of the infamous Mara River as the bravest in the herd leap right in front of you to make the season’s first crossing.

Big Picture (08:45): Nigeria, January 2018 – EyeSteelFilm, UNOCHA.  Directed by Karen Vanderborght and Sandra Rodriguez

More data is being collected and shared by humanitarian actors and partners than at any other time. In Nigeria today, data helps respond to a food security crisis affecting millions of households. The challenge is to get an accurate Big Picture: making sure data is accessible, shared and analyzed to inform life saving decisions.

For more information: https://centre.humdata.org  – @humdata  – #data4humanity

Ayan’s Journey (03:24): UK, Somalia, Italy, October 2017 – Produced by Marisol Grandon & Ayan Mohamoud, directed by Simon Davis, photography by Jamie Mossahebi, an Unfold Stories production for Save the Children Italy.

Travel to the frontline of Somalia’s food crisis with Ayan, as she meets the families fighting to survive, in one of the hardest places to live on Earth.

Sea Prayer (07:04): September 2017 – UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Guardian VR, Google. Written by award-winning novelist Khaled Hosseini; Illustrated in Google tiltbrush by Liz Edwards

On 2 September 2015, Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian refugee, drowned in the Mediterranean Sea trying to reach safety in Europe. Khaled Hosseini, the novelist and Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR and a father himself, wrote Sea Prayer in solidarity with the unimaginable loss Kurdi’s father experienced and to capture a father’s feral need to protect his children. In the story, on the eve of taking a potentially fatal sea crossing, a father reflects with his son on their life in Syria before the war – and on their unknown future.

Ground Beneath Her (06:25): Nepal, April 2017- UNDP Asia-Pacific, UN SDG Action Campaign, Here Be Dragons. Directed by Gabo Arora.

On 25th April 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake damaged or destroyed more than half a million homes and buildings, claiming nearly 9,000 lives, and leaving about 22,000 injured. The devastation was so severe that experts believe it may take a decade for Nepal to recover. A year after surviving Nepal´s devastating earthquake, 14 year-old Sabita struggles to balance an arduous routine of school and housework, while trying to keep dreams for her future alive.

You can help here.

Beyond the Lake (07:20): Democratic Republic of Congo, March 2017– UN Women, UN SDG Action Campaign. Directed by Barry Pousman and Nathan Beriro
Finess is a refugee in the Lusenda Refugee Camp in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She left behind two daughters when fleeing her home in Burundi but never gave up hope of rescuing them. With the help of UN Women’s Safe Spaces, Finess is reunited with her children and becomes a pillar of her community.

Photo: (c) Nathan Beiro/UN Women

Behind the Fence (09:05): Myanmar, December 2016 – A HUMAN film, directed by Jonathan Olinger and Lindsay Branham. Executive Produced by Sally Smith, The Nexus Fund and Shannon Sedgwick-Davis, The Bridgeway Foundation

Behind the Fence profiles Abul, a husband who does everything he can to try to help his sick wife, Barbulu, a twelve-year-old boy whose future is diminished due to the constraints of living in this open air prison, and U Wirathu, the Buddhist leader of the 969 movement who stokes public support for restrictive laws that have rendered the Rohingya stateless in their own land. This Emmy Nominated VR experience which looks inside the 5×5 square mile camp that imprisons the Rohingya muslim minority in Myanmar, and investigates the extremist Buddhists who propagate virulent anti-Muslim sentiment across the country. T he camp is home to arguably the most persecuted people on earth.

“The grievances and unresolved plight of the Rohingya have festered for far too long and are becoming an undeniable factor in regional destabilization.”  — António Guterres, UN Secretary General

Growing a World Wonder (05:14): Senegal, December 2016 – Directed by Richard Nockles. A film by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, in partnership with Surround Vision.

Growing a World Wonder is an award winning Virtual Reality film about the Great Green Wall – an African-led initiative that aims to transform the lives of millions living on the frontline of climate change.

Told through the eyes of an 8 year-old girl called Binta, the film transports the viewer to the heart of a community in Senegal – one of thousands of villages across the Sahel region of Africa growing this epic, 8000km new world wonder. www.greatgreenwall.org

360 Challenge Student Films

Breaking Barriers (4:07) Parkville High School in Baltimore, Maryland, USA – From Digital Promise Global

A first-hand look at the challenges of dealing with social anxiety in 360°. From the filmmakers: “The overall theme of the project was reaching out to those around you because you don’t know what someone could be going through, and you may be able to make a difference.”

Kitchens (3:38) Menlo-Atherton High School in Atherton, California, USA – From Digital Promise Global

A 360° video about the relationship of kitchens and culture. From the Filmmakers: “We decided to portray the differences between each of our kitchens in our 360 video, “Kitchens”. Often, the greatest differences between people arise from aspects of their life that typically remain unseen. To help reveal this otherwise hidden background, we show our kitchens, exposing differences in our environments. The differences in our communities at home reflect the differences in our cultures and selves.”

Out of the Blue (3:48) Bay Area Video Coalition in San Francisco, California, USA – From Digital Promise Global

A 360° music video about the power of community. From the filmmakers: “This 360° video is about a person going through different stages of emotions. The song is written by Hunter and is dedicated to his mom. Every person has their highs and lows. Sometimes it takes a community to make someone feel welcomed and feel like they matter.”

School Has One Syllable (4:09) People In Education in Detroit, Michigan, USA – From Digital Promise Global

A 360° film documenting the gravity that relationships have in the context of education. From the Filmmakers: “The purpose of People In Education’s 360 short film is to document the gravity that relationships have in the context of education and schooling. This film tells a story of human connections as they manifest and grow in a learning environment. The purpose of this depiction is to present the argument that at the heart of any humanizing education is relationships. Staying true to our name, the audience of this short film are people in education. This, of course, refers to students, educators and faculty, parents and community members.”

The Tour (7:29) Utica Center for Science and Industry in Sterling Heights, Michigan, USA – From Digital Promise Global

A 360° film about the importance of creativity in education. From the Filmmakers: “Our 360 video is about the importance of creativity in educational development, and how it’s unfortunate that it seems to be neglected in modern schooling. CSI is constantly trying to push the boundaries and bring creativity back into education, and so the very principles demonstrated at CSI are what inspired us to make this video. We hope that it will bring more attention to abstract ways of learning things, rather than black-and-white, yes-or-no questions dictating our success. Our goal was to inspire action for a positive change by making people aware of these issues and inspiring a change in the way high stakes testing is used.”