Last month I headed over to the ever-excellent Sheffield Doc/Fest to check out the latest in VR documentary making. As you can see in my full report, I experienced a lot of amazing projects, but one, in particular, stood out to me – Grenfell: Our Home. From today, you can watch it too.
Just over a year ago now, the Grenfell Tower, a massive block of flats in western London, caught fire and soon the entire building was engulfed in flames. 72 people lost their lives in the tragedy that’s now considered to be one of the worst fires in the history of the entire UK. Our Home tells the stories of a handful of survivors of the incident.
Rather than focusing only on the fire itself, though, Our Home first shines a light on life inside Grenfell before the incident. We visit family’s flats, virtually recreated based on the descriptions they give us. At one point you stand in an elevator and listen to the chatter of invisible residents surrounding you, painting a colorful picture of what life was like inside the now-derelict building.
In another story, you visit the home of a couple that’s developing a love of growing plants. The walls of their apartment are literally drawn around you as they describe a space filled with positive energy and you soon find yourself immersed in a dense urban jungle quite unlike what you might have imagined the place to be like. It makes it all the more hard-hitting when the inevitable stories about the fire arrive.
It’s a surprisingly effective piece, then, commissioned by the UK’s Channel 4 and created by Parable Works. It’s free to watch via the Channel 4 4VR app available on Rift, Gear, Go and Vive via Viveport. You can also find it on the All 4 website and Channel 4 News’ social media pages.