Wow! I can’t believe it is already the final day of our trip to SXSW. Time truly does fly when you’re having fun. Today I saw a record of five films in one day as well as attending a very interesting panel about the implication of virtual reality tools in world issues.
I would like to start by talking about the virtual reality panel as it had many takeaways for me. Throughout my time at SXSW I have been contemplating the importance of film as a tool for creating change in the world. This panel gave me some great insight into the most recent developments allowing film to become an even stronger influence on audiences by utilizing the stimulation of physical space to create emotion. Developers of technology such as virtual reality goggles are creating content that explores and exposes some of the issues happening around the world. For example, taking a walk through a poverty stricken ghetto in India or exploring a coral reef that is being depleted by human activity is now possible to Western cultures through 3 dimensional filming and virtual reality goggles. I find this amazing because in normal film, as in film on a flat screen, the audience’s emotions are only be evoked through two of the five senses; sight and hearing. With virtual reality technology an audience can now be stimulated through all five senses given the complexity of the virtual reality technology they are using. I think that this has a great impact on the future of film because it will create more interest and care for the issues that are happening around the world that are beyond our realm of understanding. Once an audience can understand these issues they will hopefully be more inclined to act to change them.
Although I saw many films today the one that I had the most takeaway from was called “The Other Half”. The film tackled the subject of mental illness through a romantic narrative structure. The main character in the film, a man struggling from depression after his younger brother goes missing, falls in love with a young woman with severe bipolar disorder. Having met her in a normal state, the man is surprised when he witnesses her have her first psychotic episode, but chooses to stay with her not matter what. I think this film was important in bringing an awareness to mental illness in society and how we tend to avoid the subject and, in turn, avoid the people struggling with it. I have been working on a project about homelessness in Denver as it correlates to mental illness and this film was very influential to me as a way to create characters that the audience will want to root for despite their setbacks, and hopefully influence them to respond the same way to people in their real lives struggling with mental illness. Again, I am learning that important issues can be tackled through a strong narrative film, not only documentary style flimmaking.
Today was very inspiring for me and I can wait to apply the things i have learned about to my own work. I am sad this experience is coming to an end, but so grateful to have been here for this week of SXSW.