Life In 360°: #StoriesAfterSyria

"Do not stop dreaming for any reason."

As always with Life In 360°, it isn’t just about a random video from around the world. Sometimes we have requests, on other occasions we’ve had studios specifically submit videos themselves for the segment and we do also cover news related to 360 degree technology where appropriate. Whatever it is though there is, nearly always, a story behind it. Today’s video is new and comes in connection with a pair of announcements made yesterday by the partnership of World Vision, an aid and development agency and Contrast VR, the virtual reality studio that provides the broadcaster Al Jazeera with their immersive content. You may recall we covered another of their pieces, Oil In Our Creeks, earlier this year.

The first announcement was Dreaming In Za’atari: Stories after Syria, a story that follows three refugees, part of the Za’atari refugee camp situated ten kilometers outside of Mafraq, a city whose name ironically means ‘crossroads’ and is the capital city of the governorates of the same name that makes up the north east of Jordan. Dreaming In Za’atari follows the hopes and dreams of the three with animation bringing their stories to life.

The second was 7 Stories for 7 Years, a collection of new 360 degree short films to mark the seven years since the conflict in Syria began. A conflict which has seen a staggering 5.6 million people flee the fighting – that’s the equivilent of the entirety of Singapore suddenly having to leave their home. The films are given an extra degree of specialness when you realise they were actually written, filmed (using Samsung 360 cameras) and directed by the refugees. Having been trained by Contrast VR’s Joi Lee.

“When World Vision approached us, we saw an invaluable opportunity,” explains Lee. “These young Syrians have grown up under constant news coverage of their plight, but rarely have they been given the opportunity to share their stories and shape news coverage. It was clear they had their own stories they wanted to share. By training a new group of young storytellers in VR filmmaking, we can see their perspectives come to life in an intimate and visceral medium.

7 Stories For 7 Years7 Stories for 7 Years features:

  • 15-year-old Obada’s film is about football and the friendships he’s formed
  • 16-year-old Yousef’s profile of his older brother who has started a barbershop up in the camp
  • 16-year-old Tabarak’s story of adapting to life in Za’atari
  • 16-year-old Nisreen’s profile of her disabled theater teacher
  • 17-year-old Marah, a young wife and mother, offers a glimpse into her life and shares her aspirations to become a filmmaker
  • 16-year-old Najat, who explores how she developed a love of performing in Za’atari
  • 15-year-old Mahmoud who compares life in the camp to that left behind in Syria

It’s Marah (now 18) who we are following today in this vignette, as she tells of her life and dreams inside the camp. “When I first arrived to Za’atari, I didn’t care for anything. But after receiving photography and film training, it became my dream to become a professional filmmaker. I hope with this workshop in 360 video, I can film a great movie about life here in the camp. My message to every young woman in the world is, do not stop dreaming for any reason.”

You can find more information about all the films at the World Vision website: www.wvi.org/storiesaftersyria. We’ll bring you more 360 degree items next week.

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