In this initiative, we selected 8 young Arab and African filmmakers who had never filmed with a 360 camera. We equipped and virtually trained them with Gear 360 cameras provided by Samsung. After giving them a prompt, we storyboarded and supported them as they filmed the footage. We edited the videos in-house at Contrast VR.

These stories are a result of our three month collaboration with these filmmakers.

Films


My People, Our Stories is a Contrast VR and Samsung collaboration.

The core of Contrast VR, Al Jazeera’s immersive media arm, is built on covering underreported, authentic stories from the global south, as well as pioneering storytelling through technology.

Behind The Scenes


Romania Showcase


This series traveled to Cluj Napoca, Romania and was showcased at the In/Out Transylvania Photo Festival.

A special VR CORNER was created for the showcase of these videos at the Paintbrush Factory, a former Soviet-era factory turned into a collective art space.

Sipho Mpongo

South Africa

Sipho Mpongo was born in 1993 in Nqamakwe, a rural village on the Eastern Cape of South Africa, just one year before the country celebrated its first universal elections, thereby marking an end to apartheid. Raised in the Langa Township of Cape Town, Mpongo is a photographer whose work examines youth culture and political change. He is a graduate of the Cape Town School of Photography, a recipient of the Magnum Foundation Human Rights and Photography Fellowship and a member of the photography collective Iliso Labantu.

Using different mediums, Mpongo find it fascinating to use VR medium as it reveals more than it hides unlike other mediums in the storytelling world. Mpongo enjoyed that 360 VR enforced him to truly show his community for what it is, using 360 video to show young kids in the impoverished community of Langa use gumboot dancing to keep themselves off the street.

Timothy Allela

Kenya

Timothy Allela is a filmmaker and photographer based in Kenya. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications, and has been interested in exploring the world of virtual reality. Among his most recent collaborations are a digital art installation for Goethe Institute, where he was part of a three person team. The project was a speculative piece on what Kenyans think their country will be like in 50 years.

His first 360 video explores a community outreach program in Nyalenda slum of Kisumu, Kenya. Vuku Sasa Theatrical Ensemble uses the power of spoken word, theatre, dance and performance art to educate the community, most of whom live in poverty, about sanitation, health, and sustainable living.

Kachi Emmanuel

Nigeria

Kachi is a documentary filmmaker who works with local communities situated in the oil spill impacted region of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria (Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta states). He uses documentary films to create a platform for sustainable advocacy on the best ways for community aimed development with relevant stakeholders.

His first 360 video explored the waterfront settlements of Port Harcourt, slums along the coastal area that are often lacking basic amenities like potable water and electricity. Often, these communities are subjected to forced evictions as powerful private companies, and the government, seek to clear out the slums in claims of investing in urban renewal. These forced evictions have often led to displacing tens of thousands of poor residents. His video follows a community changemaker who leads campaigns against forced evictions and illegal demolition of homes inside the waterfront settlements.

Saad Slimani

Morocco

Saad Slimani is 23 years old, and grew up in Temara, Morocco. He studied economics but has a passion for filming, editing, photography, art and being in nature. He was first interested in VR through the idea that you can experience another world, another environment, and another perspective simply by putting on a headset.

He filmed his first 360 video in the village that his mother came from, Bhalil, that is known for its caves that villagers have turned into charming homes. Saad’s film explores the traditions of the village through the eyes of a young woman fighting to preserve her culture in an ever changing world.

Imen Haddad

Tunisia

Imen is a filmmaker and photographer whose focus is to change the narrative of African storytelling and provide germane filmmaking training to young African artists. Imen worked with Media 256, a Ugandan production startup that shares her passion for sharing a positive image of Africa.

Her first 360 video follows a young woman, Yosa Saadani, who is an expert in restoring woodwork and buildings in Tunisia. We follow her into her workshop and one of the architectural treasures that she is helping to restore, the Palace Ennejma Ezzahra.

Roy Jamhouri

Lebanon

Roy Jamhouri is a versatile filmmaker from Beirut, Lebanon, a production swiss-knife who wears many hats for better or for worse, always eager to try his hand at something new. This approach has allowed him to build a diverse body of work, filming all across the MENA region from Algeria to Dubai. He is always ready and interested in exploring new mediums, which is what led him to exploring 360 video.

His first 360 video takes us into the world of the recycling initiatives inside Lebanon, which has faced massive infrastructural problems in dealing with trash and recycling. We follow a young woman who started Recycle Lebanon, which has grown from a collective that was cleaning beaches to a full organization that connects all the different environmental related initiatives within Lebanon.

Elia Ghorbiah

Palestine

Elia Ghorbiah is a freelance journalist and producer from the Iraeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank. Her work has been broadcast on Al Jazeera English, AJ+, Middle East Eye and others and often explores Palestinian issues.

Her first 360 video follows the story of a young 10 year old Palestinian girl, Hanan, as she takes us along her journey to get to school. She is from Abu Al-Nawar, a Bedouin community, that lies in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. As a result of the Israelis demolishing the only schools in the community, the young Palestinian children must walk at least 3km daily to get to the closest school, which for Hanan is now located in a barbershop for lack of a better space.

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Mahmoud Hammash

Jordan

Mahmoud Hammash is a documentary director and producer, having made 8 short films and 1 feature documentary film in Jordan. He has worked extensively with the Jordanian Royal Film Commission, which nominated him for this initiative.