PARK CITY, Utah (Jan. 24, 2017) —The poverty-fighting organization CARE and filmmaker Shannon Carroll debuted the virtual reality film “Women on the Move” this week during the Sundance Film Festival, unveiling an intimate look at women who started a movement by banding together in rural Niger.
The film, part of Oculus’ VR for Good program, transports viewers into the lives of Fatchima and her granddaughter, Nana. Fatchima unlocked a better future for women in Kagadama, Niger, 25 years ago when she helped form one of the very first CARE Village Savings & Loan Associations, or VSLAs, changing the course of her life — and Nana’s.
Oculus launched VR for Good last year, matching 10 nonprofits with 10 rising filmmakers to bring a variety of social causes to life. The teams, selected among hundreds of applicants, then created 360-degree films with equipment and post-production support from Oculus, which also provided educational opportunities, funding, and mentorship with industry veterans. CARE, which fights poverty by empowering women and girls, teamed up with Carroll, founder and creative director of Vivid Story, a New York-based studio that uses the power of story to advance causes. They were mentored by Rob Holzer of Matter Unlimited.
“Most people will never actually travel to Kagadama,” Carroll said. “But through virtual reality we are giving anyone a chance to immerse themselves in rural Niger and the lives of some of the most inspirational women I have ever met.”
In “Women on the Move,” viewers see the world through the eyes of Fatchima, who joined with other women to upend a culture of child marriage and gender discrimination a generation ago. They began by saving just pennies a week through their Village Savings & Loan Association (VSLA), making loans to each other, earning interest and, most importantly, supporting each other through droughts, food shortages and health or family emergencies.
Their success has since been replicated thousands of times. And today there are more than 10 million VSLA members across more than 30 African countries and in parts of Asia and Latin America. In Niger alone the VSLA network has grown into a movement of more than 200,000 people. It has lifted women into public office, acted as a safety net during droughts and, each day, lived up to the name that Fatchima and the other women gave it a quarter century ago: Mata Masu Dubara, or “Women on the Move.”
“VSLAs are about so much more than just savings and loans,” said Michelle Nunn, president and CEO of CARE. “Women on the Move allows people to feel the power of the transformation that happens within women — and between women — who are making their dreams happen by coming together.”
The film will be available on multiple platforms —including the Oculus app, care.org and Facebook 360 — in coming weeks. In the meantime, a behind-the-scenes preview can seen here.
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Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside women and girls because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. That’s why women and girls are at the heart of CARE’s community-based efforts to improve education and health, create economic opportunity, respond to emergencies and confront hunger. Last year CARE worked in 94 countries and reached more than 80 million people around the world. To learn more, visit www.care.org.
About Shannon Carroll
Shannon Carroll is an artist, filmmaker and designer based in Brooklyn, NY. She is the Founder and Creative Director of Vivid Story, a studio focused on the power of visual storytelling for causes. She produces compelling visual narratives for social enterprises to increase their impact and authentically connect with core audiences. As an experienced collaborator, she brings her skills spanning video production, photography, interactive design and virtual reality to engender empathy and catalyze engagement. She has presented projects and held workshops at Brown University, Columbia University, Creative Time Summit, BRIC, Made in NY Media Center by IFP and Storycode. Shannon is a graduate of Tufts University, and was a UnionDocs Collaborative Fellow.