ZIKR: A Sufi Revival Heads To Sundance Film Festival

New project aims to shed light on a religion described as "Islamic mysticism".

Today marks the start of the latest Sundance Film Festival, running until January 28th 2018.  While the festival itself continues to adapt with the times its role in shining a spotlight on some of the finest exponents of the craft that is story telling has not changed one iota. Of course something that has made increasing strides over the last three years has been the addition of immersive experiences and installations into the various facets that make up the Sundance line-up. That and of course those from other festivals as well, like Raindance.

We’ve already had a few of announcements regarding Sundance this year; there’s the virtual reality (VR) animated film Battlescar from 1stAveMachine. An exploration of the late 70’s Punk scene in New York starring actress Rosario Dawson which will feature as part of the Sundance New Frontier Program. Dinner PartyRYOT’s VR story story of alien abduction and revelations at a dinner party in early sixties America. Digital Domain are bringing Micro Giantsan immersive narrative about a micro-ecosystem that includes vivid details and beautiful design and just recently a study in urban warfare with HERO from iNK Stories and Starbreeze.

One more can now be added to the list ZIKR: A Sufi Revival, which is coming to the Kimball Art Center from January 19th through to the 27th, again as part of the New Frontier category.

Presented by the partnership of Superbright, Sensorium, Tomorrow Never Knows, BoomGen Studions and 1001 Media, ZIKR: A Sufi Revival seeks to shed light on an often confused religion – Sufism, known in the Muslim world as Tasawwuf and which is often described as a mysticism-based aspect of Islam. The project, which has you join the Tunisian group Association de la Renaissance du Maalouf et du Chant Soufi de Sidi Bou Saïd looks into the creative side of Sufism, of art, dance and the joy and importance that can be found in both ritual and music.  The social aspect is kept intact by your ability to see other participants as virtual avatars and you will be able int interact through song, fance and a number of physical objects which have the capablility not just change your experience but that of those around you.

“My hope is that ZIKR: A Sufi Revival, with its unprecedented level of engagement and interactivity, will allow for a more meaningful connection to Islam that goes beyond empathy and tolerance.” Explained the Director, Gabo Arora. “I want it to
evoke the deep sense of bliss and elation these rituals can bring in order to communicate something that cannot be learned through words, but only through experience.Executive producer, best-selling author, scholar of religions, and

Reza Aslan, Co-Founder of BoomGen Studios added: “We founded BoomGen Studios as a hack to leverage the power of storytelling to reframe perceptions, to change people’s minds and to create new identities. There is no better example of that than what Gabo and team have accomplished with the eye-opening experience that is ZIKR.”

“With this experience we push the boundaries of interactive social VR by re-imaging embodiment and presence in Sufi rituals. Participants are afforded an opportunity to engage with each other through song and dance and gain a more holistic understanding of Islam.” Said Igal Nassima, ZIKR’S creative technologist.

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