Chris Milk and "Clouds Over Sidra"

Along with "Waves of Grace," this short film is one of the major inspirations for me to dive deeply into 360° immersive video.  The Here Be Dragons production studio founded by Chris Milk has its roots in Milk's other ventures Within and Vrsee.  Exactly two years ago this week, in January 2016, Milk's Within group, along with UN video producer Gabo Arora, released “Clouds Over Sidra”, along with the United Nations (made in partnership with Samsung). The film was commissioned as part of the UN’s advocacy at the World Economic Forum in Davos to state and business leaders and offers a unique perspective into the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people. To learn more about the Sidra Project, please read the project page here.

“Clouds Over Sidra” follows a twelve year old in the Za’atari camp in Jordan – home to 84,000 Syrian refugees. It follows her to school, to her makeshift tent and even to the football pitch.  “At the UN, we consistently strive to bring citizens’ perspectives into the decision making process anyway possible” said Arora.  “By leveraging breakthrough technologies, such as virtual reality, we can create solidarity with those who are normally excluded and overlooked, amplifying their voices and explaining their situations.” 

Clouds over Sidra was the first film shot in virtual reality for the UN, using the medium to generate greater empathy and new perspectives on people living in conditions of great vulnerability. The film’s powerful capacity to allow anyone on a global scale experience life within a refugee camp has the ability to inspire the message of hope amongst not only the millions displaced but also those motivated to act.  

For a deeper dive into what Milk and Arora learned by the creation of this landmark 360° film, here are some links for you to watch:

And this wonderful overview of Milk's discussion of VR and its social/artistic implications.

And please listen to this excellent podcast of Kent Bye interviewing Gabo Arora about the project.  Very worthwhile listening and Arora goes into detail describing much higher level of engagement and financial support that "Clouds Over Sidra" generated compared to fundraising using their traditional filmmaking mediums.

CuratedGary Yost