‘I Am Rohingya’ shines on a light on the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims.
Virtual reality’s ability to influence users on an emotional level by immersing them in new worlds and situations has made it the perfect tool for documentarians looking to further impact their audiences. Being able to place users directly into the shoes of a real subject and surround them in their world brings a new level of empathy that’s often unobtainable in standard 2D filmmaking.
That’s why Al Jazeera’s first VR documentary, I Am Rohingya, could be one of the more influential pieces of media released this year. The eye-opening eight minute short film was developed in partnership with Contrast VR, Al Jazeera Media Network’s new immersive studio, and Amnesty International, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning leading global human rights movement. The first in a series of original VR documentaries covering cultures hit by conflict, I Am Rohingya tackles the ongoing refugee crisis caused by the brutal ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, Burma. Specifically, viewers follow Jamalida Begum and her two children, just three of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees forced to relocate to camps in order to survive.
“This film is essential viewing in that it offers a visceral look at how one woman’s life was brutally shattered by the Myanmar authorities’ campaign of repression against the Rohingya. For this to happen to a single family is a horrific crime; the subsequent ethnic cleansing of more than 480,000 Rohingya amounts to crimes against humanity. Jamalida’s story could not be more timely: With the UN Security Council meeting again this week, the world must take urgent action to stop the atrocities taking place in Myanmar’s Rakhine State,” said Tirana Hassan, Crisis Response Director at Amnesty International.
“We’re excited to partner with Amnesty International to release this film,” said Zahra Rasool, Contrast VR’s editorial lead. “We hope that more people will view the film and be informed about the plight of the Rohingya refugees and the urgency of their situation. We’ve decided to release the film early in light of this escalating humanitarian crisis.”
I Am Rohingya joins Al Jazeera’s rapidly growing 360° video catalog and serves as the media group’s first foray into lengthier 360° content. The full-length documentary is available via AJ+ on Facebook as well as Vimeo and shared across Al Jazeera English (AJE) online, Contrast VR, and Amnesty International.