UN Launches Powerful, First Ever, VR Film following Syrian Refugee Girl

A young girl, a Syrian refugee, suddenly appears before you, sitting on the floor of a cramped room. She describes her family, and takes you on a journey through the refugee camp in which she lives. You sit beside her in her makeshift school classroom and watch children tramp through the muddy streets in the encampment. You feel as if you can smell the bread being baked in front of you at the camp’s bakery. This is the powerful, immersive and deeply moving experience invoked by a ground-breaking new film shot for the United Nations using the Samsung Gear VR 360-degree platform, which is a collaboration between Samsung and Oculus. As a way to create empathy with a subject, it’s definitely a harbinger of things to come.

Fashion model Mari Malek (pictured below), former Harry Potter star Emma Watson, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg were among the dignitaries at the World Economic Forum in Davos today backing the launch the new film, shot specifically for the Samsung Gear VR.

Mari Malek

“Clouds Over Sidra” follows a twelve-year-old girl named Sidra in the Za’atari camp in Jordan — currently home to 84,000 refugees from the bloody Syrian civil war.

It’s the first ever film shot in virtual reality for the UN and is designed to support the UN’s campaign to highlight the plight of vulnerable communities, particularly refugees. The film is released today on the VRSE channel on Samsung Milk VR USA as well as the VRSE application on iTunes and Google Play. Samsung Milk VR is like a content delivery system for Gear VR, a little like a ‘YouTube for VR’.

You’ll be able to experience the film on a virtual-reality headset, like the Oculus Rift device or via the Vrse app, which operates on a smartphone in conjunction with a simple viewer, like the cardboard one that Google has designed. You can also download the app and watch it on a phone, but you won’t get the full 360 Degrees immersive experience.

Created by UN adviser Gabo Arora and filmmaker Chris Milk using VRSE.tools, the film was produced by Samantha Storr, and is a collaboration between the UN Millennium Campaign and UNICEF Jordan.

Right now the number of refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people is at the highest it has ever been since World War II. Over fifty percent of them are children.

I watched the movie myself and interviewed the producer, Socrates Kakoulides.

It had a powerful effect on me as you can see from the below video.