It’s a beautiful day to stand on the edge of the Danube River in Budapest. At my feet sits a line of shoes, pointed toward the water. Though I can turn in place to see the bustling city behind me and the long stretch of water on either side, a voice in my ears explains those shoes will forever stand at the edge of the water as a reminder of the fear and death that stood on this ground during the Holocaust. Chills run down my spine.
Shoes was one of five winning 60-second films in Samsung’s Gear Indie “There in 60 Seconds” challenge. The competition asked filmmakers to create a 360-degree piece of compelling VR content that transports viewers to a place that is special and unique in 60 seconds or less. The winning films are currently being featured on the Indie Winners channel in Samsung Milk VR.
Each winner will receive a $10,000 prize and will have their film available for view at the Samsung Studio during the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
Here’s a closer look at the winners:
Shoes (Panomalna aka Moses Bravo), Austin, Texas
“Your Gear VR goggles just teleported you to beautiful Budapest, the capital of an Eastern European country. As you tour the city, you come across something odd on the bank of the Danube river: sixty pairs shoes made of iron. As you stop to investigate, you get teleported again. Now you are at the same place but back in the winter of 1944. You are one of the many Jews the local Nazi party herded to the riverbank. You live in a ghetto during the past few month, you are scared, hungry and cold. You fill one of the shoes. To your left and right your wife and children the others. Facing the river you hear gunshots and your family members are killed one by one. One last shot, and your life is over. Fortunately the nightmare ends and you are back to present day Budapest. What will you learn from your dream? Will you stand up against hate, persecution and discrimination?”
Cardboard City (Kiira Benzing of Double Eye Productions), Ridgewood, New Jersey
“Peek inside the enchanted studio of Brooklyn-based stop motion animator Danielle Ash.”
Ghats on the Ganges (RYOT), Los Angeles, California
“Join RYOT in 360 VR as we flow down the shores of the Ganges River and walk along the steps of its numerous Ghats. These Ghats have held spiritual and cultural significance for centuries as spaces where people worship deities, bathe, and cremate the dead. Ghat cremation ceremonies hold profound spiritual importance, as the dead are officially released from the process of earthly reincarnation. Strolling alongside these cultural sites gives us a unique insight into the rich history of India and its people.”
En Pointe (Spliced Films), Hollywood, California
“After being cut from the ballet, a young woman stays late at the theater and dreams of her perfect performance. The film is shot in 360 2D as a virtual reality experience. It is also mixed in 3D 5.1 surround sound that plays directionally in relation to the users head position.”
The Survival Tree (Jenna Watt), Los Angeles, California
“Shortly after moving to LA to pursue her music career, Paige’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Devastated by the news, Paige decided to make a “Prayer Box” and hike her prayers for her mom to the highest point she could climb. Paige has now hiked to this spot over a hundred times.”