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A War Survivor’s VR Film Brings the Terror of a Conflict Zone to Life

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Directed and co-created by Milica Zec, Giant is a virtual reality piece that explores a family’s experience living in a war-torn nation and their struggle to make their young daughter feel safe, despite threats of impending violence. The ten-minute short narrative film depicts emotions and situations that could happen anywhere, but in this case, the director draws from her actual experience growing up in war torn Serbia.

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The immersive virtual reality experience transports you into the family’s makeshift basement shelter.

Some of the more compelling aspects of virtual reality are made more salient in this experience with the use of directional audio, which gives you a sense of place and surroundings. When you demo Giant, a chair vibrates during key moments as bombs outside explode and reverberate through the basement.  This imposes an oppressive sense of doom and potential bodily harm.  In a world in which we know that war exists, Zec’s piece forces you to confront what many in the world face on a daily basis. You feel like you’re right there with the family in the bomb shelter.  Lights flicker and bomb blasts shake the walls, loosening up the foundation. Particles of dust shimmer in the light, awakening from their dormant state.

And this is all part of the powerful world of Giant. Set in this claustrophobic basement bunker that gives you a 360 degree seat to one families tense despair.

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If the film wasn’t already moving enough, an American family was placed at the center of the conflict to strike an even stronger cord with the audience as it toured Cannes, Sundance and Siggraph earlier this year. This is all happening to a middle-class American family on American soil, not taking place in a far off remote country, making this something that viewers may more easily identify themselves with the family at risk.

So instead of war atrocities being experienced merely as a fleeting headline, you will feel what it’s like to be at the epicenter of a conflict zone — to witness the fear and suffering that millions of innocent families around the globe have to confront every moment of every day.

If you want to check out the Giant VR experience yourself, the filmmakers Milica Zec and Winslow Turner Porter III will be premiering the short at their hometown in New York. You can catch the film when it shows at the New York Festival festival at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, October 1 & 2.

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