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Nonny de la Peña’s VR doc, ‘Project Syria’: The Future of Documentary Filmmaking?

The IDA (International Documentary Association) magazine looks at documentarian Nonny de la Peña’s immersive doc experience, Project Syria. In the piece by Elisabeth Greenbaum Kasson, the filmmaker talks about the power of VR game technology and the ways that she wants to use it for documantaries. The approach, she admits, might not be effective or even understandable to older demographics but, she insists, it will be completely accessable to younger people.

“Project Syria,” the article states, “originally commissioned by the World Economic Forum, is an excellent example of a newer medium’s reach. It was installed at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum for five days in June 2014. The immersive experience allowed museum-goers to “walk” the streets of war-torn Aleppo and enter a refugee camp as real events occurred. Over the course of its short run, it garnered 54 pages of visitor comment.

“De la Pena’s work-in-progress,” it continues, is “a cultural representation of women in the US, who are murdered at a rate of three a day by their intimate partners, is in collaboration with Al Jazeera. ‘We are getting commissions,’ she says, ‘but we’re unique in the market. I have to make the pieces first to say, ‘Look. See, I can do this,’ and that’s always been true with making stuff. It’s very hard to get people to believe that you’re capable and confident and a great storyteller, until you have some sort of demo reel.'”

The article also discusses other documentary projects incorporating VR technology and captures the voices of others speculating about the future of VR documentary.