Media Majlis VR film premieres at Venice Film Festival

September 06, 2023
Remember this place: 31°20′46″N 34°46′46″E, a virtual reality film experience on Palestine by The Media Majlis at Northwestern University in Qatar, is premiering at the 80th Venice Film Festival.
Showcased alongside 43 international projects as part of Venice Immersive, a festival section for immersive media, the 35-minute film explores the concept of a fragile home through the perspective of Bedouin communities threatened to be displaced and forcibly urbanized across historic Palestine. It features the stories of female Palestinian activists, architects, artists, and poets who are working to preserve their homes, culture, and histories from being erased.
“The importance of this project cannot be understated,” said Jack Thomas Taylor, interim director of The Media Majlis at Northwestern University in Qatar. “The people in Palestine fight for the right to stay in their homes every day, and the way in which virtual reality is used to bring this tragedy to life for people who may feel far removed from such events is inspiring. This technology allows viewers to step into others’ shoes in a way no other yet can.”
Directed by documentary filmmaker Patricia Echeverría Liras, the project came to life after Liras experienced first-hand the horrors of Israeli occupation while traveling to Palestine in 2019 to visit the communities across the Naqab desert. With The Media Majlis as the executive producer, Liras set out to develop an immersive experience that showcases the grim reality of living under occupation while prompting viewers to reflect on their relationship to home as a concept.

Using visual components composed of 3D reconstructions of real locations, spaces, and artifacts and recorded noises from different communities, the team used immersive storytelling to bring memories of histories and spaces that are being erased in the real world and take them into a virtual landscape. “With this project, we seek to amplify the voices and oral histories recorded with different generations of Bedouin women to preserve and celebrate memories of their home and culture,” said Liras. “The process of preservation through the digital becomes a political act, only possible within the context of XR technologies.”

Remember this place combines the powers of storytelling and immersive technologies to shed light on one of the most pressing topics of our time,” said Marwan M. Kraidy, dean and CEO of Northwestern Qatar. “By leading projects like this, Northwestern Qatar continues to be at the cutting edge of media studies and evidence-based storytelling in the region, engaging in research and creative scholarship to amplify the voices of the Global South.”

Remember this place: 31°20′46″N 34°46′46″E is being showcased as part of The Media Majlis’ fall 2023 exhibition, MetaWhat?. The exhibition, which is open to the public until December 7, 2023, explores the pitfalls and opportunities of an ever-changing digital media landscape while challenging Western structures and offering a view of this new technology from the perspectives of the Global South.