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Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s “Carne y Arena,” First VR to Play Cannes

Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s VR installation “Carne y Arena” has debuted at the Cannes Film Festival, making it the first VR project to ever be included as an official selection for the storied festival.

The multi-platform experience puts users into the first-person viewpoint of Latin American immigrants attempting to cross into the United States through the Arizona desert when they are caught by U.S. authorities. Iñárritu and frequent cinematography collaborator Emmanuel Lubezki developed the project by speaking to real immigrants who had made the torturous journey. The duo then asked them to reenact their experiences on camera; filming their stories with VR’s 360-degree sweep and in-your-face urgency.

The six-minute piece is a walking VR experience that allows participants to wander around the desert, a sand-strewn space the size of several volleyball courts, while wearing Oculus Rift headsets. Deadline has hailed the project “The Birth of an Art Form” and IndieWire says, “Iñárritu is the Director Who Finally Got VR Right.”

A version of “Carne y Arena” will open at the Fondazione Prada in Milan in a few weeks and travel to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art this summer, where it will welcome one museum patron at a time.