Finnish Telecommunications giants Nokia have partnered with The Humanitarian Cooperative to create a powerful virtual reality film to highlight and raise awareness of the ongoing refuge crisis in Syria. The film was screened at a United Nations Refugee Agency event in Geneva, Switzerland.
The short documentary showed how innovative technologies can enable new ways to raise awareness of humanitarian causes and promotes dialogue on these issues. The ten-minute production was captured with a Nokia OZO, the world’s first camera purpose-built for professionals – which chartered the journey in the life of a nine year old Syrian refugee who has been resettled in Finland.
Around the world, the number of people affected by conflict and persecution unfortunately shows no sign of abating and has worsened in recent years. Today, more than 65 million people are displaced either inside their own country or as refugees. UNHCR works to protect refugees, the internally displaced and stateless people. To support these efforts, and to promote dialogue on the plight of these people, Nokia collaborated with talented filmmakers to find new ways of raising awareness of these human catastrophes.
Equipped with Nokia's professional virtual reality camera OZO, filmmakers David Gough and Thomas Maddens embarked on a journey to tell the story of Omar, a 9-year-old Syrian boy who had to leave his home just outside Aleppo and spent three years at a refugee camp in Lebanon, before finally being resettled in Finland.
Screening today at the ninth annual UNHCR High Commissioner's Dialogue on Protection Challenges in Geneva, Switzerland, the short film is captured by OZO in premium 3D 360 audio and video, providing the audience with a truly immersive experience of the harrowing life of a refugee. The joint production is an example of how new, innovative technologies are changing the way people communicate and empathize with each other, and shows how technology can be used to support humanitarian causes around the world.
Head of video at UNHCR, Edith Champagne feels the film is the perfect way to illustrate the courage shown by refugees and indicates evidently the struggles and hardships faced by fleeing refugees.
She said: “This production was a way to tell a very human and touching story with the latest video technology. Omar and his family were resettled in Finland after fleeing Syria, but every day countless families and children fleeing conflict are on the move, in urgent need of safety and protection. The opportunity Nokia offered UNHCR and the Humanitarian Cooperative has resulted in a powerful approach to bringing the courage and resilience of refugees to new audiences."
Filmmaker David Cough explained that he felt the film represented a different prospective on the way you can tell important human stories through the concept of virtual reality.
Gough said: “It’s more important now more than ever to look for new ways to tell humanitarian stories and none is more pressing right now than the refugee crisis. Working with the Nokia OZO camera and UNHCR on this project has been a huge step forward for us at The Humanitarian Cooperative in the way we can use virtual reality to tell human stories."
Head of Corporate Affairs at Nokia, Minna Alia, explained that she felt Nokia’s technology conveys the harsh reality of life inside a refugee camp, and said the film was designed to impact and provoke viewers all over the world in thinking how they would react if it happened to them.
She said: “Our technology helps convey the daily reality of life in a refugee camp, prompting viewers to think about how they would react if it happened to them, and how they would want the world to react. Nokia's ambition is to create technology that serves mankind; it's not only about making tech human, but making it humanitarian as well."
The film will be made available to the public in January 2017. A short trailer gives a glimpse of the story behind the project which can be watched below.