celine-tricart
Celine Tricart

The Sun Ladies VR is an amazing story about a group of Yazidi women from the Northern Iraq community of Sinjar, who escaped as sex slaves and started an all-female unit to fight the terrorist organization ISIS. ISIS raided the Sinjar District in August 2014 and massacred over 2,000 Yazidis, selling many women into slavery. There is a group of women who escaped and decided to fight back in part because ISIS believes that they’ll go to hell if they’re killed by a woman. These women call themselves “The Sun Ladies,” and their story inspired activist and actor Maria Bello to form a team of war journalists and VR creators to travel to Iraq to capture their story of women’s empowerment.

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christian-stephen
Christian Stephen

The Sun Ladies premiered at Sundance, and I caught up with co-directors & producers Céline Tricart and Christian Stephen. Tricart is a VR cinematographer & director who recently published Virtual Reality Filmmaking: Techniques & Best Practices for VR Filmmakers, and Stephen is a British war journalist who directed the first VR piece from a war zone in 2015 with Welcome to Aleppo. I talked with Tricart & Stephen about the process of traveling to northern Iraq, building trust with the Sun Ladies in order to share their stories of empowerment, their creative use of illustrations, and what they see are the strengths and limitations of using VR to tell stories within these areas of conflict.

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Their production process was a fusion of lessons from their backgrounds in war journalism and VR cinematography, and they used VR’s ability to transport you to another place. VR cameras are easily mistaken as a bombs, and so it was difficult to capture footage from the frontlines. This limitation inspired Tricart to reach out to lead VR artist on Dear Angelica, Wesley Allbrook, in order to create illustrated representations of the Sun Ladies fighting using Quill. In order to make that transition more seamless, they added a unique blend of illustrations on top of the cinematic 360-degree footage in order to emphasize the characters within the sparse landscape of Northern Iraq.

Both Tricart & Stephen wanted to avoid the trope of focusing on the tragedy and trauma of the previous experiences of these women, but rather tell the story of how they’re empowering themselves to fight back and protect their community. Stephen has a lot of deep insights about the dynamics of the region, and he points out that it was vital to have Tricart there to be able to listen and capture the stories of these women.

The project was the brainchild of Bello, and she put together an amazing team that’s pushing the boundaries of immersive storytelling by going into the trenches to capture these types of stories. They blended in 2D footage gathered from Stephen’s awareness from reporting in the region to the backstory, and then leveraged VR’s ability to transport you into other worlds to open a window into their journey into recovery and empowerment.

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The Sun Ladies is a really inspiring story that captures a lot of intimate moments, and it fuses in an artistic style with Allbrook’s Quill illustrations that really captures their fierce warrior spirits.


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  • AndyP

    Release?

  • Get Schwifty!

    Glad to see that the heinous “religion of peace” is slowly but surely being exposed for what it really is: a cult which indoctrinates through religious education which twists history, targets people who try to quit (or even disagree openly) for murder, and makes sexual slaves and generally oppresses anyone who doesn’t go along with their religious mandate for a one-world caliphate and destruction of freedom of expression and democracy. The great deception is that this is just an “ISIS” or “Al-Qaeda” problem…

    • Javed Asghar

      This is a not essentially a medium to discuss this in more detail, I hope you are expressing this all as just your opinion? Facts are far far from what you mention above basically putting an entire religion, second largest in the world by population into one small point of view – your point of view. I don’t know a single practicing muslim friend that would agree to any of what you see above or any thing ISIS or any group for that matter is doing under the name of Islam. Islam literally does mean peace, and killing just one human takes you essentially out of it.

      I do agree with you that that there are extremists among them – just like we have on any other side. These people are mercenaries with no social life, or career prospects to look forward to, most joined them from first world countries feeling their problems and taking into this as a full blown fun vaccation, want to kill some one? sure, want to rape? sure. and on top get paid in US $ for it all. This is a business, not the teachings or something any practicing well versed Muslim would follow or agree with, infact most muslim countries themselves are their biggest enemy, e.g. Pakistan and the shcool kids killed in Peshawar and many a many more attacks in Pakistan and its Army fighting them back all the way to afghanistan. You need to go into the political side of things and look at why were they originally formed, even if with the help of Pakistan army, who funded them really? Their have been numerous first world agendas in place to form this all. Long story short, you are entitled to your point of view but based on any fact – saying the “religion of peace” is being exposed is blatantly ignorant.
      You need to really study in details what this religion really is, and meet some true practicing followers within your area. Ask them these questions and look at history of spain or baghdad before the crusades to see where chemistry, mathematics and modern biology comes from and how these muslims under their rule were working closely in a great secular society with their jewish, atheist and christian colleagues. If your view is truly what a practicing educated muslim’s view, you me and no one would be alive today. They are in-fact that many of them alive. You can’t also say but they should educate others and condemn or openly come out against crap like you see above, because they are doing that, at least my friends are.

      Yes I also agree that there are extremists among them, way many in numbers but then again most of them are from third world countries with no real future prospects or education, education being their main problem. I found it quite funny that when a number of these captured terrorists were questioned, not one knew even the basic islam answers, and most read a book on converting to islam on their flight to iraq/afghanistan and are in it for the fun of killing, rape and money. These are people of no religion my friend. Honestly try going to your local mosque and find a revert and ask him all the questions you have to see how close it actually is to Christianity, scary to see how it feels like windows 10 to windows 7, basically all features from 7 still in it, infact Christ mentioned way more times than their Prophet and a whole chapter in their book is just about Mary and to them even Christ is Messiah and they cover themselves not because of their religion but because Mary used to do so. and it goes on. Hope I shed some light for you, even if your heart is closed and mind decided that’s fine and your point of view, but if you ever decide to look at the real practicing educated muslims, do ask them all the questions you have – no matter how controversial. Coming from an ex-atheist now reverted Agnostic person.

  • oompah

    Whatever CIA creates
    creates for destruction
    these ladies’d be dead soon
    but the MIL of USA (& demoncRats)
    rich

  • Jaap Olsthoorn

    How does one watch this kind of thing? I see a lot of VR movies come by, but I don’t know where to get them. Do they support Oculus or just like daydream or gearVR?