Virtual Reality Arrives at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Virtual Reality (VR) is an ever-expanding platform and many artists involved in creating VR projects are seeking to bring light to human rights issues. Here at Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) we are a huge proponent of using film and immersive media to bring awareness to diverse populations and issues from around the world. Specifically our TFI New Media Fund seeks to fund and give support to non-fiction, social issue media projects which go beyond traditional screens—integrating film with content across media platforms such as VR.

This year one of three such projects we supported was the VR project 6x9: An Immersive Experience of Solitary Confinement. We are thrilled to share it will be shown at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival this year. It will be available in the Furman Gallery at the Walter Reade Theatre from 7:30pm to 9:30pm from June 10 to 18. 

We are also excited about the Human Rights Watch Film Festival-hosted panel The Emerging World of Virtual Reality and Human Rights. TFI grantee Francesca Panetta, Special Projects Editor at The Guardian, will be speaking along with other creators, journalists, and human rights experts to discuss the intersection of VR and human rights.

About 6x9: An Immersive Experience of Solitary Confinement

Right now, more than 80,000 people are in solitary confinement in the US, locked in tiny concrete boxes where every element of their environment is controlled. They spend 22-24 hours a day in their cells, with little to no human contact for days or even decades. The sensory deprivation they endure causes severe psychological damage. These people are invisible to us—and eventually to themselves. This powerful VR piece invites you to experience what life is like in solitary confinement.

Co-created by The Guardian and The Mill www.theguardian.com/solitary-vr
*Please bring earphones to participate in this experience.

About The Emerging World of Virtual Reality and Human Rights

Questions over how best to use VR, and its ability to impact human rights situations, are hotly debated – particularly as VR’s unique approach to audience experience raises new issues over legitimacy and responsibility. Creators differ over how far to push audiences’ boundaries, for what impact, and with what design model. Opinions over these questions are ever-changing within the field. Join us for a panel discussion with creators, journalists and human rights experts to discuss this exciting and evolving intersection of VR and human rights. Panelists include Sam Gregory, Program Director at WITNESS, Francesca Panetta, Special Projects Editor at The Guardian and Lina Srivastava, Founder, CIEL.