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Arts and Culture

On the Stories We Tell: A Look Through Virtual Reality


Dear Angelica, a hand-drawn virtual reality film which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival explores the power of storytelling. The directors and writers wanted to create a film where the viewer can explore the fantasies of a young woman as she mourns the death of her mother. SaschkaUnseld, director and co-writer, felt inspired by how stories have impacted his own life.


“There’s kind of the micro story which is about a parent and the child - the way they live their lives, but also the stories they tell us and how they shape our lives," he said. "All of us who tell stories, and make movies, people will watch them. And they will influence people. By the stories we tell we shape the world and we shape the people.”


Artistic Director Wesley Allsbrooke wrote the words “Goodbye’s in movies are so much better.” She wanted to expand on how stories have ideal endings, compared to the less satisfying endings that happen in real life.


“This is a story about mothers and daughters," Allsbrooke said. "As a women, I never want to live the life that my mother lived. I don’t know as a women now, I think that are roles are different in movies. I feel like film gives us a purer experience, I feel like stories give us a purer experience of what we want our lives to be. For me this piece is about the difference between the stories we tell and the way things actually happen.”


Dear Angelica has small details spread throughout the film of the character’s imagination, such as stars and dragons, as well as memories of car rides and the laughter of Angelica, the main character’s mother. In this sculpted world, the audience has the opportunity to watch the main character process her loss through her imagination. Allsbrooke says that the film was created in virtual reality because of the unique artistic creation process.


“It’s more than 360 degrees," Allsbrooke said. "It’s like drawing in actual space. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted from drawing.  You’re working in an infinite canvas and you never reach the end of the page. It’s a combination between conventional flat drawing in sculpting.”