The PBS investigative series Frontline and the Brown Institute’s exploration of virtual reality (VR) in journalism continues with the release of the first in a new series of 360-degree Facebook videos. Filmed on the ground in war-torn South Sudan, the series — On the Brink of Famine – transports viewers inside a hunger crisis that few people in the Western world are aware of.
The project is an immersive, up-close look at life in South Sudan, where more than 2.8 million people are going hungry and at least 40,000 are near starvation as a result of a devastating civil war. The human catastrophe captured by the filmmakers is made even more urgent by a recent report from the United Nations warning that the people of South Sudan are facing unprecedented levels of food insecurity, with the numbers expected to peak this summer.
Frontline and the Brown Institute will release the immersive documentary in stages. In the first On the Brink of Famine story, published on Frontline’s Facebook page, viewers are taken on a critical mission to deliver food by plane to those trapped in the swamplands of South Sudan.
In a second 360 video experience, coming to Frontline’s Facebook page later, viewers will visit the country’s largest displaced persons camp — where more than 120,000 people have fled to escape the violence.
The full documentary, which also includes a look inside a clinic where Doctors Without Borders cares for children suffering from acute malnutrition, will be available on Frontline’s Facebook page starting Tuesday, March 1.
“We wanted to transport viewers into the heart of this man-made catastrophe to meet the people who are experiencing it,” says the team behind the documentary, Evan Wexler, Marcelle Hopkins and Benedict Moran. “We hope that viewers come away with a better understanding of the causes of this crisis and how it affects people in South Sudan.”
“At Frontline, we’ve been exploring VR’s potential for journalism for some time, and we’re so proud of the work this team has done to tell a critically important story in a new way,” says Frontline Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath, who oversaw FRONTLINE’s first virtual reality documentary,Ebola Outbreak: A Virtual Journey.
“We’re excited to partner with the Brown Institute on this important project, and to release the resulting immersive experience on Facebook for a broad audience,” Aronson-Rath adds.
Visit Frontline’s Facebook page to experience On the Brink of Famine.
The only way to get food into some war-torn regions of South Sudan is by dropping it from the sky.Experience a food drop through the power of Facebook 360° in the first scene of a new immersive documentary by FRONTLINE and The Brown Institute for Media Innovation, with support from the Ford Foundation and MINY Media Center by IFP. Full documentary coming March 1.