Al Jazeera's VR Doc Brings Awareness To Refugees

Al Jazeera's VR Doc Brings Awareness To Refugees
June 21, 2017

June 20 marks World Refugee Day, a time to honor the people who have fled wars, disasters and persecution.


According to the United Nations, 65 million people worldwide were forced to be a refugee in 2016 — an average of 20 people every minute.


In a move to provide solidarity with millions of people who have forcibly uprooted from their homes, Contrast VR — Al Jazeera Media Network’s new immersive studio — has announced the completion of “I Am Rohingya”, the first Virtual Reality documentary filmed in a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh.

“I Am Rohingya” gives a glimpse into the life of a Rohingya Muslim woman, Jamalida Begum, in the slums of the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.


Jamalida is one of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who are in limbo, unable to be resettled or return to their homes. The film depicts Jamalida’s current living situation in the camp and her resilience in the face of adversity. Though recent atrocities are not far from her mind, Jamalida is still passionate about dance and life.


More than 120,000 Muslims, predominantly Rohingya, are still housed in more than forty internment camps, according to regional rights organization Fortify Rights.


The documentary is directed and produced by Contrast VR’s Editorial Lead Zahra Rasool and co-produced by award-winning filmmaker and journalist Aela Callan. The production team hopes the film will help bring awareness to the lives of the Rohingya.

“It was an incredible experience filming in the refugee camp, and to be able to capture the environment and circumstances of the Rohingya people in VR,” said Zahra Rasool, Contrast VR’s editorial lead.


“One of the most attractive aspects of this medium is the ability to immerse people in reality, in this case the plight of these persecuted minorities, so that we might be able connect with the issue at a deeper level,” Zahra Rasool added.


The project was shot with the OZO+, Nokia’s industry-leading professional VR camera solution, coupled with OZO Creator, Nokia’s VR image processing and stereoscopic software now including mixed reality enablement. This powerful combination produces generational advancements in image quality and efficiency in the creative process.


Contrast VR collaborated with AJ+, Al Jazeera’s digital news network, to combine journalistic storytelling with compelling VR content. In addition, AJ+’s Creative Director Kutlay Dede wove animations into the immersive content, illustrating Jamalida’s moving flashbacks as she recounts her memories of fleeing violence in Myanmar.


The full Contrast VR original documentary will be available later this year on Facebook 360, YouTube 360, Samsung VR, Viveport and Oculus store.

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