Virtual reality film The Waiting Room (commissioned by the Virtual Realities – Immersive Documentary Encounters research project) has been premiered at one of the oldest and most well-known film festivals in the world, the Venice Film Festival. Makers of the documentary are now working on an outreach campaign which will bring the film and VR piece to hospitals and cancer centres throughout the UK in Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
The Waiting Room is part of a wider Virtual Realities – Immersive Documentary Encounters project, funded by the UK EPSRC, which seeks to examine the production and user experience of non-fiction content through the medium of virtual reality. The film, from Bafta Award Winner Victoria Mapplebeck, tells the story of her breast cancer from diagnosis through to treatment and recovery.
Danaë Stanton Fraser, Professor in Human Interaction in the Department of Psychology, is co-investigator on the project. The University of Bath is leading the lab based work exploring concepts such as empathy, social bias and attention in immersion VR, while collaborating with many external partners particularly the Research & Development team at the BBC. “The Virtual Realities project is enabling an exciting body of work on immersion. It is great to be showcasing the first prototypes emerging from the project. We also look forward to sharing some of our results from both lab-based and "in the wild" studies of virtual reality in this space."
Danaë is now hoping the prestige of the Venice Film Festival brings with it further opportunities to push the boundaries of nonfiction in both form and content. The project team will be studying audience reaction to the film’s main themes; exploring cultural myths and the language of chronic illness, asking us to confront what we can and what we can’t control when our bodies fail us.
Danaë says, "The Waiting Room VR is a moving piece about Victoria's experience of breast cancer. We are delighted it premiered at the Venice film festival and we will now move into a phase of evaluating audience reactions to the documentary".
You can view The Waiting Room via the Guardian Website. Victoria Mapplebeck is now working on an outreach programme that will give the film and VR experience life after the festival circuit, making it available throughout the UK in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.