The Venice Film Festival has embraced virtual reality (VR) storytelling, as shown by the number of VR films and experiences that are being shown at the event this year, a number of which will be having their world premieres at Venice Film Festival. One of the VR films that will be making an appearance is Awavena.
Awavena was directed by Lynette Wallworth, and was a VR Wallworth and Coco Film production. The VR film takes viewers into the spirit realm of indigenous Amazonian people, the Yawanawa.
The VR film was designed to take the visitor on a virtual journey into the spirit world as seen by Yawanawa shaman Tata and his disciple Hushahu, the first female shaman among the Yawanawa, and someone whose incredible visions are credited as reviving the culture.
Hushahu feels that VR technology allows for the Yawanawa to share their visions, acting as a conduit between ancient and modern, the material world and the spirit realm.
Director Wallworth said: “It is gratifying to see eminent film festivals inviting the swiftly developing form of VR into competition. Awavena has an incredibly powerful story at its heart; a crucially relevant narrative of Indigenous cultural revival in the Brazilian Amazon, arising from female empowerment. The story is essentially being gifted to the world by the Yawanawa people via technologies they perceived could best represent their unique world view.”
Other VR pieces which will be shown during the 75th International Venice Film Festival includes a VR adaptation of Philip K. Dick story The Great C, in which a young woman must make a harsh choice between her culture and her sense of justice in a world dominated by an all-powerful computer.
Also being shown is a VR documentary called The Unknown Patient, based on the true story of an ANZAC soldier who lost his identity and spent 12 years living in a mental hospital.