"Survivor testimonial projected on the burned out walls of the Hiroshima Dome." From The Day the World Changed. Photo credit: Tomorrow Never Knows.
“Survivor testimonial projected on the burned out walls of the Hiroshima Dome.” From The Day the World Changed. Photo credit: Tomorrow Never Knows.

The virtual reality experience, The Day the World Changed, co-created by award-winning filmmakers and virtual reality pioneers, Gabo Arora and Saschka Unseld, will premiere in the Virtual Arcade that runs April 20 to 29, at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.   Produced by Jennifer Tiexiera, the social, interactive experience pairs ground-breaking technologies with rare survivor testimonies from Hiroshima to bring the terror of nuclear war to vivid life.

“Over the years, we have been desensitized to the consequences of nuclear war,” said Arora. “We are living in a time when our Commander-in-Chief and leaders of other nations are openly calling for more nuclear weapons, taunting each other over their capabilities. Our intention with this work is to give voice to those victims of nuclear war asking the world to face this shared history and to recognize the true horror of these weapons.”

Added Saschka Unseld, “We want this to be an unwavering, uncomfortable experience for people. We want to turn on its head our obsessions and fetishizing of nuclear superiority as a symbol of pride in one’s country, but also to recognize the power of the virtual reality medium. By placing the general public inside the ruins of a tragic event like Hiroshima, we hope to activate a groundswell of support for the abolition of nuclear weapons, and to help ICAN generate momentum in their mission towards elimination.”

The Day the World Changed began as an original commission by Nobel Media to showcase the work of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization ICAN, a campaign coalition that works to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.

“We find ourselves at one of the most dangerous moments since the dawn of the Atomic Age. It’s at moments like this that we must collectively look back and understand that nuclear weapons are quite simply indiscriminate weapons of mass murder,” said ICAN executive director, Beatrice Fihn. “The Day the World Changed isn’t just a story about the past, it is also about our future—it reminds us that these weapons are still here, threatening us, but we can do something about it.”

With that goal in mind, the experience presents a powerful historical record reimagined through new technology via three interactive chapters.

The first explores what led the United States government to develop and drop the world’s first atom bomb on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945, a catastrophic event that ultimately killed more than 90,000 people. The second chapter examines the aftermath of the bombing as users walk through the ruins of Hiroshima’s only remaining building, and view authentic artifacts left over from that day.

The third chapter advances to the present day as viewers delve into the madness that ensued as the world raced to develop ever-more nuclear weapons.

The experience seeks to pay tribute to the victims of Hiroshima, while recognizing those currently affected by nuclear weapons testing in today’s fraught geo-political climate, proving that change is possible with the right tools and information.

“The Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund prides itself on elevating and empowering voices that have been ignored, voices that aren’t afraid to push the envelope and explore the complexities of what drives us as a society and as individual beings,” said executive producer and director of the Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund in Film and Media Studies at Johns Hopkins University Annette Porter. “We are honored to support and participate in this monumental project.”

Tomorrow Never Knows CEO and Executive Producer on the project, Nathan Brown, is quick to note the impact The Day the World Changed will have in bridging the gap between art, education and location-based distribution. “This project goes far beyond mere technology or storytelling,” he says. “It is important experiences like this that have the potential to open up new markets and audiences to the power of immersive storytelling around the world.”

The Day the World Changed was made in partnership with International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), Nobel Media, Sisu Films and Ntropic+Tactic and produced by Tomorrow Never Knows, Jennifer Tiexiera, Tom Lofthouse and Fifer Garbesi, and executive produced by Nathan Brown, Executive Director of ICAN and current Nobel Peace Prize Nobel Laureate, Beatrice Fihn, Mattias Fryenius, Karen Lorenzo, Annette Porter and features original sound design by AntFood.

Tomorrow Never Knows’ inaugural feature, the critically-acclaimed ZIKR: A Sufi Revival, premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, and was later acquired by UK-based distribution company, Dogwoof, becoming the first ever VR documentary to be acquired at a major film festival.

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