Be one of the first to download new VR Film: “Waves of Grace”!

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It is our pleasure to announce the release of our next Virtual Reality film: Waves of Grace, now available for Virtual Reality headsets and for use with/without google cardboard on Android and iOS mobile phone platforms through the Vrse.works App.

Waves of Grace captures a young woman’s tale of love, loss, and rebirth amid the Ebola epidemic. In the film we accompany Decontee Davis, a native of West Point, Liberia, as she guides us through the streets of her township, into schools, hospitals, abandoned buildings and burial grounds. She finds solace by using her immunity to help patients, care for those orphaned, fight stigma, and in the faith of forgiveness. The film draws attention to the lingering effects of the Ebola virus and supports the Secretary-General’s push for continued attention and support to the Ebola response. It was originally prescreened at the United Nations Secretary-General’s International Ebola Recovery Conference, hosted to ensure affected countries receive the support they need to end the epidemic and continue countries on the path to recovery.

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Waves of Grace is the second VR film of the UN Virtual Reality and Vulnerable Groups Series, result of a collaboration between the United Nations Millennium Campaign and Vrse.Works – with the additional support of Vice Media for this film – and co-created by Gabo Arora and Chris Milk. The series attempts to draw attention to the world’s most pressing challenges and to bring the voices of vulnerable groups directly to decision makers. In using Virtual Reality technology, the aim is to create deeper understanding and empathy and to inspire action towards these causes. The first film, Clouds Over Sidra has met with international acclaim, winning Best Interactive Award at the Sheffield Doc/Fest.

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Burial scene from Waves of Grace – Vrse.works

DOWNLOAD NOW!

  • With the Samsung Gear VR and Samsung Phone: Download Vrse.works in the Oculus Home Store once using the headset
  • With iOS system or Android Phone using Google Cardboard: Download the Works App.
  • With iOS system or Android Phone without Google Cardboard: Download the Works App.

To learn more about the UN’s Ebola response, please visit: http://ebolaresponse.un.org/

Media contact: Kristin.gutekunst@undp.org

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Actor Jeffrey Wright with UNMC team members Kristin & Alice at the UN pre-screening event (c) Ally Gutekunst

Some of the great press already coming out:

  • World Economic Forum – Chris Milk & Gabo Arora – “Our overarching goal is to make virtual reality a catalyst for real-world change, solving the problems of today while showing just how relevant the principles of the 1945 UN Charter continue to be for all of us.”
  • Ebola Deeply – Austin Schiano & Kristin Gutekunst – “Moving through the streets of West Point, the despair, death and displacement left by Ebola permeates the community, but this is a film about all of humanity: there are flashes of laughter and glimpses of everyday normality. Virtual reality’s unique viewing leaves no space to ignore anything. The effect of Ebola on an already fragile society is clear: for many who have never been or may never go to Liberia, the film is a powerful, intimate second-best.”
  • Wired Angela Watercutter – AN INTENSE NEW virtual reality film isn’t a documentary so much as it is a prayer; its lector is a young Liberian woman named Decontee Davis, and her benediction is a plea for help to rebuild her country after Ebola ravaged it in 2014.”
  • The Creators Project – Kevin Holmes – “Both [Clouds Over Sidra and Waves of Grace] are powerful and emotive pieces of filmmaking, and the transportive nature of virtual reality means the they’re able to elicit a degree of empathy and agency that wouldn’t be apparent in a conventional film. Once you take the headset off, it takes a moment to adjust, not just because a moment ago you were in a virtual Liberia, but also because you just shared someone’s experience on a very personal, visceral level.”
  • Thomson Reuters Foundation – Kieran Guilbert “A virtual reality film aims to draw attention to prejudice towards Ebola survivors by guiding viewers through the life of a woman in Liberia who uses her immunity to help others affected by the disease, the creators said on Tuesday.
  • Wall Street Journal Speakeasy – John Jurgenson – “In terms of technology, the first baseline is that we’re available through the Vrse app on every virtual reality headset. But if you don’t have that, you can use “magic window” mode on your phone [depending on the device], which makes your phone look like a window into a virtual reality world. And with the embeddable web player, you can just scroll around using your mouse. We’re trying to help people take the baby steps into the fullest, most immersive experience possible.”
  • Wired UK – James Temperton – “But ultimately this isn’t a film about despair, it is a film about hope —  a hope that things can get better.”
  • Inc.com – Scott Hartley – “Technology has the power to alienate, to distract, and to wedge its notification-rich self into each of our previously blissful under-connected worlds. But it has, in equal part, the ability to connect us, to make us more human, and to build empathy between us. Arora’s vision with UNVR is to shape the medium of virtual reality, and foster our enhanced humanity.”
  • Economic VoiceWaves of Grace calls attention to the formidable obstacles that Ebola survivors still face, despite having survived and recovered from the disease.  The film transports viewers to West Point, the most populous slum in the capital of Liberia, and follows the experience of Decontee Davis, an Ebola survivor who uses her immunity to help others affected by the disease.”

UNMC screens sneak preview of new Virtual Reality film: Waves of Grace

The United Nations Millennium Campaign screened a sneak preview of their latest Virtual Reality film, Waves of Grace on Friday 10 July at the United Nations. Its premier was planned in conjunction with the United Nations Secretary-General’s International Ebola Recovery Conference, hosted to ensure affected countries receive the support they need to end the epidemic and continue countries on the path to recovery. Wavesofgrace promoWaves of Grace follows a young woman’s struggle for life amid the Ebola epidemic. The movie is the result of collaboration between the UN Millennium Campaign, Vrse.works and Vice Media, and was created to call attention to the obstacles faced by Ebola survivors. The movie transports viewers to West Point, Liberia and follows the experience of Decontee Davis, an Ebola survivor who uses her immunity to help others affected by the disease.  The VR experience captures the Liberian tragedy from illness to recovery, mourning to perseverance.  It is part of a larger initiative of the United Nations Millennium Campaign to fight donor fatigue on the world’s most pressing challenges.

UNMC Colleagues Kristin & Alice with actor Jeffrey Wright
UNMC Colleagues Kristin & Alice with actor Jeffrey Wright

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“Development achievements can be quickly reversed due to crises such as the Ebola epidemic” said Mitchell Toomey, Director of the UN Millennium Campaign. “If the world does not focus on helping the most vulnerable and building resiliency in recovering communities, development goals and targets will not be met. Thus it is hoped that this film may aid the United Nations’ efforts to draw attention to the lasting impact of the Ebola crisis, as well as the need for continued support for those affected by the disease.”

“The Ebola crisis has captivated the world in its devastating effects over the last year and a half. However, the individual stories behind the numbers are often not told.  Decontee’s story captures the strife and spirit of the communities across West Africa in the wake of the Ebola epidemic. It is hoped that this second VR experience will promote greater understanding of the socio-economic impact of the disease and empathy for those who continue to overcome it.” said Gabo Arora, co-creator of the film and Senior Advisor for the UN Millennium Campaign.

The film will be formally launched soon on the VRSE App. To sign up for more information on the Virtual Reality please visit: www.vr4dev.org. Stay tuned! Continue reading “UNMC screens sneak preview of new Virtual Reality film: Waves of Grace”

Citizens United to Promote Peace & Democracy in Liberia

CUPPADL, Liberia

Blog by: Prince Kreplah National Executive Director of CUPPADL (www.cuppadl.ushahidi.com), +231886533015

Tuesday May 13, 2014: MY World’s Global Week of Action took place from from Monday, May 5th till Sunday May 11th, 2014. During this week, the United Nations teamed up with youth groups, the private sector, and NGO partners all over the world to launch MY World to gather 500,000 peoples’ opinions about the world they want after 2015. The MY World survey asks citizens everywhere about the issues that make the most difference to their lives.

In Liberia, the Citizens United to Promote Peace & Democracy (CUPPADL) led the initiative to collect votes in six poverty stricken communities in Monterrado County, Liberia. These communities included West Point, Clara Town, New Kru Town, Slipway, Doe Community etc. During the peak collection of votes from these communities, we mobilized the participation of over 400 citizens. The population voted for the six issues they believe needed to be prioritize in national and global development agendas in order to improve their lives and make Liberia a better place to live in.

We chose chose the communities previously mentioned because they have large populations with extreme poverty and poor access to social services despite the fact that they are so close to an urbanized capital. There are 40,000 inhabitants in the smallest community and 80,000 in the largest community.

The top priorities for the 400 voters were: “Better jobs opportunities”, “A good education”, “Better health care”, “Access to clean water and sanitation”, “Political freedoms”, “Better transport and roads”, “An honest and responsive government”, “Access to family planning” and “Reliable energy at home”. I believe the findings of the survey are not only relevant to global post-2015 development agenda, but are also relevant for Liberia in their national development planning.

The data will be useful to global leaders and will aid national development planning by painting an accurate global picture of the top six issues that impact peoples’ lives the most. The MY World survey is an unique opportunity to influence the global development agenda and CUPPADL is glad that Liberians have been heard through their votes.

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