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10 documentary VR experiences with real impact

Over the last ten years, the documentary genre has been reinvented by virtual and augmented reality, with new possibilities for bearing witness to the world around us. From high-impact, educational works to interactive narratives, the field of possibilities is immense, and the effect on audiences immediate. It’s an underlying trend, in line with the desire to use innovative forms of storytelling to better capture reality. Here’s a look at ten outstanding examples.

DRAW FOR CHANGE! We exist, we resist!

Directed by Mariana Cadenas Sangronis
A traditional documentary series in six episodes(see the official website), DRAW FOR CHANGES! portrays our societies through the work of women cartoonists from around the world, who challenge the red lines and taboos of their societies. The virtual reality episode meets Mexican cartoonist Maremoto (Mariana Lorenzo), in a country where 10 women are murdered every day and tens of thousands disappear. This virtual reality experience combines 360° video, animation and interactivity in an engaging and creative journey for the viewer, exploring universal and relevant themes such as body positivity, sexual harassment and contemporary activism. 
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Directed by Fanni Fazakas
A virtual reality experience involves bringing the viewer closer to the subject, in a much more direct conversation… And sometimes in a difficult context. MISSING 10 HOURS plunges us into the nocturnal life of its hero, faced with a rape case of which he is the only witness. What would you do in his place, how would you help him? Aided by a series of interactive sequences in which you are actually in control, this proposition is designed to place the question of our individual responsibility at the heart of the story.
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Directed by Martine Asselin and Annick Daigneault
In this metaphorical, interactive virtual reality experience, you’ll experience the world through the sensibility of Lou, a fictional character created from testimonies of autistic people and inspired by the two directors’ children. Through his sensitivity and interests, you’ll experience fascination, sensory overload and autistic collapse. You’ll have to use unique coping mechanisms as some autistic people do. This is an inclusive production, with several autistic people involved in its realization. This work fosters empathy and a better understanding of this distinct neurological reality.
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Directed by Adam Weingrod
A biographical tale following the footsteps of an ex-Israeli soldier who suffered eye injuries during Israel’s 1982 military intervention in Lebanon, SPOTS OF LIGHT is a moving collage of memories, intentions and archive footage. Set to the voice of Dan Layan, now a happy father, this innovative 360 film follows his journey towards the light. The light he lost in an explosion, and which a miraculous operation could enable him to regain… To see his family for the first time?
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Directed by Camille Duvelleroy
Produced with the help of Ubisoft, and based on elements from its Far Cry 6 game, LADY SAPIENS is a playful experience that provides a better understanding of the place of Sapiens women in the Paleolithic era. It’s a highly interactive proposition, in which you’ll discover the living quarters, environments and hunting methods of our ancestors. And what if, at the same time, this technological and narrative feat were to shed more light on the role of women in a history that is all too often male-dominated?
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Directed by Jörg Courtial
What if you could go back in time? On the scale of the Earth’s creation, human beings have occupied very little space. GENESIS invites you to follow in the footsteps of the first traces of life on the planet. As a time traveler, you’ll be walking alongside the first living creatures under the sea, the dinosaurs… in an odyssey of which we were never a part! A particularly relevant proposition, with outstanding visual work by German studio Faber Courtial.
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Directed by Adrien Moisson and Raphaël Aupy
WILD IMMERSION is a documentary series that takes us to the heart of the issues surrounding the preservation of endangered animal species. Produced with the support of British ethnologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall, each episode takes you to exotic destinations with no possibility of disrupting the tranquil lives of animals and their ecosystems – and saving you the ecological burden of the journey. It’s the perfect way to get away from it all, and to reflect on man’s impact on nature.
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Directed by Pablo Harres
Grand Prix Venice Immersive at the Mostra 2022, FROM THE MAIN SQUARE uses irony to question the notion of democracy in modern society. An animated 360 experience whose simplicity is surprising at first glance, but in which you have a real role to play. With an omniscient view of a rapidly changing environment, will you be able to perceive the disturbances and evolutions that are leading a peaceful city into chaos? Not devoid of humor, this film produced by a German university is already a classic.
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Directed by Mike Brett, Steve Jamison, Arnaud Colinart and Pierre Zandrowicz
What would you do in the event of a nuclear attack? This 3-chapter impact film (see the official website) takes us back to 2018, to the heart of a staggering news item: a ballistic missile alert in Hawaii… which fortunately turns out to be false. During the 38 minutes of the alert, the inhabitants of this isolated U.S. state in the middle of the Pacific will have to deal with the situation. This latest project by the authors of NOTES ON BLINDNESS is a powerful plea against the use of nuclear power in our society, with a wealth of eyewitness accounts and a particularly striking mise-en-scène.
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21-22 CHINA

Directed by Thierry Loa
A panorama of the Anthropocene in 7 chapters (the 4th is currently in production – see the official website), 21-22 explores our contemporary world to capture man’s impact on nature. China, the USA, soon India… Thierry Loa questions the state of the world through his work with drones, plunging the viewer into virtual reality above breathtaking scenery, or staggering highly industrialized spaces. A breathtaking assessment of our planet in 2024, where each viewer is free to make up his or her own mind.
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© Unframed Collection – 2023

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