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documentary education global-education social-activism Uncategorized Virtual Reality

How Can Schools Use Virtual Reality?


By Gemma Bradshaw

At the SIMA 2017 Awards we introduced a Virtual Reality (VR/360) category and we’re now thrilled to be able to bring some of the finalists to SIMA Classroom.

Virtual Reality has been called the ultimate empathy machine.

Our VR films have an immediate effect on students. Instantly immersing them into a new world, sitting with people you may not normally meet, and seeing with their eyes.

From a first-person perspective of the humanitarian crisis in Greece to a woman’s experience of living with Alzheimer’s disease, this is a whole new way of connecting with complex social issues.

We know these VR films will provide you with an incredible springboard for discussion and action.

If you don’t have a VR headset yet, there are increasingly more options coming on the market. But for an easy and cheap way to start, check out Google Cardboard.


Film still from REFUGEES


(Eduardo Hernandez & Yori van Gerven, 2016, Greece, 7 min)

Languages: English

Subtitles: English

Refugees is a 360 documentary about the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Thousands have left their homes in search for a better future, and in their search they encounter dangerous obstacles. We went to Lesbos, Greece, where migrants take the leap from Turkey, putting their lives at risk, and captured some of the most intense moments in thrilling virtual reality.

Film still from SONGS OF THE VINE


(Maira Clancy & Blake Montgomery, 2016, Peru, 18 min)

Languages: Spanish

Subtitles: English

Shot over the span of two months in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, ‘Songs of the Vine’ is a virtual reality documentary focusing on the healing modalities, cosmovision and culture of the Shipibo, an indigenous group best known for their mastery of ayahuasca and sacred plant medicine. By immersing the viewer into the depths of the Amazon jungle, and exposing them to the songs and perspectives of Shipibo healers, ‘Songs of the Vine’ illustrates an ancient but increasingly relevant dynamic between humans and nature.

Film still from TRACES

TRACES (VR / 360)

(Gabriela Arp, 2016, USA, 8 min)

Languages: English

Traces is a cinematic virtual reality film exploring the memories of one woman living with Alzheimer’s disease. In the film, the main character Willie White, an 88-year old woman living with dementia, recounts her time as a young girl living in the fields near Mason, Tennessee. As her words transport us back in time, traces of memory fall in and out — the old wooden farmhouse where she was raised, the coconut cakes her mom would make on Sunday mornings, her favorite white dress, the hymns she’d sing in the choir at church. Through these vibrant recollections, illustrated through re-enactments, we journey with Willie as she searches for the words to one of her favorite songs and the meaning of memory in this new and fragmented landscape.

You can find over 100 social impact films and interactive lesson plans at SIMA Classroom. Find out more at simaclassroom.com or SIMA Classroom

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