Groundbreaking VR work COLLISIONS, a Sundance Institute New Frontier | Jaunt VR Residency Program project, has won an Emmy for the Outstanding New Approaches: Documentary category at Thursday night’s 38th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards in New York City. Director Lynette Wallworth, Producer Nicole Newnham, and Jaunt VR Producer Patrick Meegan were on-stage to accept the award.
Wallworth, an acclaimed Australian artist and documentary filmmaker, is known for producing immersive artworks that provoke profoundly emotional responses. COLLISIONS is a virtual reality journey to the land of indigenous elder Nyarri Morgan and the Martu tribe in the remote Western Australian Pilbara desert, living as hundreds of generations before them have, with no exposure to the Western world. Nyarri’s first contact with Western culture came in the 1950’s via a dramatic collision between his traditional world view and the cutting edge of Western science and technology, when he witnessed firsthand and with no context, the testing of an atomic bomb. COLLISIONS focuses on the need to consider future generations, as we dive head-long into the fourth industrial revolution.
Speaking immediately after the Award presentation Wallworth said, “This immersive technology allowed the impact of Nyarri’s story to be felt in a way that other forms could not and the timing of the story’s release proved to be prescient. As the world watches a newly emerging nuclear standoff, Nyarri’s powerful first hand account, translated into our most contemporary of mediums, is a story that has waited over 50 years to be told. COLLISIONS is a story for this moment and it needed these technologies to deliver it.”
Newnham added, “It was exciting to leverage the technology of VR to realize Lynette’s vision. VR enabled the viewer to viscerally experience Nyarri’s homeland, and to witness the atomic test from his point of view. It’s incredibly emotional. The possibilities for storytelling in this medium are profound.”
This is the fifth Emmy nomination for Newnham and her first win. It is the first nomination for Wallworth.
Through the extraordinary visualization capabilities offered by virtual reality, COLLISIONS, takes viewers on a profoundly emotional, immersive journey—standing alongside Nyarri, as he recounts this life changing collision with the extreme edge of Western science and technology, and the impact it will have for generations to come.
“Working on COLLISIONS was an incredible experience,” said Meegan. “Lynette and Nicole were working in the VR medium for the first time, but worked tirelessly to harness its potential in order to tell Nyarri’s story in the only way it could properly be told, and Nyarri understood the technology from the moment we arrived.”
COLLISIONS premiered jointly at Sundance Film Festival and at the World Economic Forum, Davos where Wallworth was invited to bring the first VR work to be presented by the Forum in Davos. Collisions has gone on to provoke meaningful change on a global level forcing leaders to reconsider the effect of policies on the environment and health of the earth. Screenings have been held for decision makers at the Trimble Forum for Disarmament, Washington, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty meetings in Vienna, the Climate Action Summit Washington and the UN General Assembly meetings, New York. Viewers of this film represent some of the world’s major nuclear powers, heads of state, heads of industry, celebrities and more including the President of Argentina and the King of Belgium, cultural leaders including will.i.am, Olafur Eliasson and Yo-Yo Ma, as well as a large number of government ministers. Hans Blix who viewed the work in Vienna commented that the world needed immersive works like Collisions to illustrate the truly corrosive power of nuclear weapons as they remain for most people “…an abstract concept.”