TINDI & BIBI A VIRTUAL REALITY INSTALLATION

Six years ago in a rural village in Tanzania, Bibiana Mashamba and her sister Tindi were violently attacked. They were only eleven and ten and barbarically targeted simply for the color of their skin.

Bibiana and Tindi were both born albino - a purely genetic condition that saps the skin, hair, and eyes of any pigment. In certain traditional African communities, however, albino individuals are seen as a precious commodity - whose body parts are said to possess magical, healing powers.

It is believed among these communities that witch doctors can create magic potions with their limbs. As a result, we’ve seen a troubling spike in attacks on albino individuals and a dangerously profitable black market exchange of stolen albino body parts.

The night of the intrusion, Tindi hid and survived physically unharmed, but the attack left Bibi without her right leg and two fingers.

Six years later, the girls now live in the US. They attend the Montessori School of Ojai, take ballet and art classes regularly, and aspire to one day return to Tanzania to combat violence with education. The juxtaposition alone of their lives then and now is astounding, but what resonates most is their untenable tenacity and the resilience of their very spirits.

[ CONCEPT ]

In an experimental Virtual Reality film and accompanying an art installation, step inside the story of Bibi and Tindi and experience the albino epidemic plaguing traditional African communities.

[ CREATIVE APPROACH ]

In a cinematic VR film starring Bibi and Tindi themselves, we tell their story through poetry, dance, and textured layers of animation.

Poets, dancers, and artists in their own right, we hear the words, feel the movements, and see the artwork of Tindi and Bibi to create an immersive 360 experience that places you inside a living breathing art installation. The experience is broken into 3 distinct acts, with acts 1 and 3 mirrors of one another and act 2 a distinct animated puppetry experience.

Press Play to Watch

[ ACT ONE ]

We begin on an empty warehouse. We dolly in with to the beats of rhythmic percussion towards Tindi and Bibi who wait at the end of the warehouse. They stand there dressed in all black amidst the lit space. As we push in, beside each column we reveal, one by one, a number of white mannequins surrounding us from every angle. The spoken word begins, and we hear Tindi’s voice. She recites her poem, powerful and poignant, it’s a poem of hope. “I am an angel.” Once we land at the end of the push, the camera locks in a position where a light installation located behind Tindi, illuminates in the shape of a halo and wings. Once locked and interpreted, lighting changes to the inverse. We see Tindi and Bibi dance all around and beside us, incorporating the mannequins into their choreography. Behind the mannequins we see dancers shrouded in black, maneuvering the limbs and bodies of the mannequins like puppets. They push and pull, reorganize the limbs and bodies of mannequins all around us and we are in Act 2.

[ ACT TWO ]

Look directly above you, and you see Tindi and Bibi. Like puppeteers they look down upon you and manipulate the world around you. It’s a brief but animated interpretation of the night of the attack. We see it as they remember it, flashes of moments and feelings. They retell the story. We re-live it in their animated memory.

[ ACT THREE ]

From a flooded room of light, we’re back to a black warehouse. And now the power is in the hands of Tindi and Bibi. The mannequins are their puppets. The paint is theirs to use. They pour black on the limbs of the mannequins around them and paint white on the bodies of the dancers that surround them. Lyrical and pulsing, we end with the words of Bibi. Her poem is one of ferocity and power. As the limbs of the mannequins are detached by the dancers and piled closer and closer to the camera, we hear her last words surround us as she says, “I’m coming for you.”

[ VIEWING INSTALLATION ]

To authentically create a fully immersive experience, we intend to create a physical art installation to surround the VR activation and experience. Headsets, waiting for viewers, will sit on the faces of white mannequins placed in circle in the room.

On the walls, we see projected and looped a linear black and white film. The film incorporates linear moments captured from the VR experience as well as a host of analog and archival footage that nods to the black market economy that depends on this witchcraft and the witch doctors themselves who ritualize these acts of violence.

[ THE TEAM ]

ANGEL MANUEL SOTO, DIRECTOR

Angel Manuel Soto is an acclaimed filmmaker whose work has screened for Congress, Cannes, and Sundance alike. His award winning first feature film, La Granja, is currently touring festivals, and his short documentary, "El Pugil," premiered this past year at Tribeca Film Festival. With RYOT, Angel directs and supervises VR content, and has directed pieces from Jordan to Cuba, and Malawi to Tennessee.

SMILEY STEVENS, DIRECTOR

Smiley Stevens is the Art Director of RYOT, and responsible for ideating the overall visual aesthetic of the brand. This past year, she oversaw the visual rebranding across all RYOT’s digital properties. Most recently, Smiley directed a Virtual Reality episode for "The Big Picture," RYOT's VR news series with Hulu. Last year, Smiley as acted as the production designer on RYOT's VR film, "The Artist of Skid Row," which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival 2016. Smiley was named one of LA Weekly's People of 2013, and her work has been featured in Vogue, The Creators Project, The Huffington Post, Vice Magazine, Nylon Magazine, Complex Magazine, Bullett Magazine, NBC NEWS, LA Canvas, LiveFast Magazine, Foam Magazine, and XXL Magazine.

HAYLEY PAIGE PAPPAS, PRODUCER

As Head of Films for RYOT, Hayley oversees the development, production, distribution, and campaigns of all RYOT Films - from feature-length docs and character driven shorts to experiential VR pieces. With RYOT, she’s had the privilege of producing award-winning docs, including the Oscar-nominated short, “Body Team 12,” as well as over a dozen virtual reality (VR) films. Her work has covered topics including sexual assault, solitary confinement, and mass executions and has premiered at Sundance, Tribeca, and Hot Docs among others.

BRYN MOOSER, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Bryn Mooser is the CEO and co-founder of HuffPost RYOT. Recently acquired by AOL, RYOT is the leading immersive media company specializing in virtual and augmented reality. As an Oscar nominated filmmaker, Mooser has overseen the production of more than 200 linear and immersive films created by RYOT in collaboration with some of the most well-known brand partners in the world. Looser is also pioneering narrative virtual reality storytelling, launching the first ever virtual reality global news show and comedy series. RYOT’s work has earned accolades across the industry, including recognition as an Emmy Awards 2016 finals for HuffPost RYOT’s “The Crossing” and a Peabody Award finalist

[ THANK YOU ]

Created By
Smiley Stevens
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