“Zero Days VR” Wins Emmy for Outstanding New Approaches: Documentary

I couldn’t be more thrilled, humbled, and full of pure joy right now. We won an Emmy for Zero Days VR for Outstanding New Approaches: Documentary at last night’s 39th News & Documentary Emmy Awards. 

I wanted to thank and introduce the Emmy Winners and best collaborators and partners in the world: Executive Producer Alex Gibney, thank you for trusting to tell this story in a new way. Executive Producer Sarah Dowland for your continuous support. Yelena Rachitsky and Colum Slevin and Oculus for your vision and belief in us from the start. Participant Media for your partnership. My deeply talented partners James George and Alexander Porter. My collaborator Elie Zananiri – thank you for your brilliance. Producer Mei-ling Natasha Wong for tireless, passionate work and still making it all fun! Love and gratitude for the rest of the Scatter family: Kyle Kukshtel, Jillian Morrow, Timothy Scaffidi, Neil Purvey. Antfood Music & Sound Design – who deserve an Emmy for the music alone. Jessie Cohen for amplifying our story from the get go. Last but not least the rockstar Zero Days VR team: Bradley G Munkowitz, Michael Rigley, Michael Cina, Kevin Watters, David Gochfeld, Thomas Meduri, Zara Hayden, Wilson Brown, Trevor Haimes, Yuta Endo, Dalton Harts, Mandy Mandelstein, Bil Thompson and Caitlin Robinson.

Yasmin Elayat

And finally and most importantly, a deeply heartfelt thank you to Shari Frilot and Hussain Currimbhoy for giving us a stage at Sundance where this entire wild ride started.

Thank you so much to the academy! This award represents a lot for us since our Scatter journey began two years ago in the summer of 2016. Not only was this our first project together, but we were also building our company and our first product Depthkit. This is a big moment for our team, for VR/AR and for Volumetric Filmmaking

Filming Revolution: A Meta-Documentary About Filmmaking in Egypt

Yasmin Elayat node, Filming Revolution

I’m excited to announce that Alisa Lebow’s interactive meta-documentary Filming Revolution has been released and available for everyone to explore online. Alisa had interviewed 30 filmmakers, archivists, activists – people who are all interested in and invested in documenting the ongoing revolution and activities in Egypt. I met Alisa in December 2013 when we had conducted my interview about our project 18DaysInEgypt, a participatory documentary project on the on-going Egyptian revolution. It’s strange to watch my thoughts frozen in a moment in time that feels so distant to me now. I would answer many of those same questions very differently today. I approached the interview academically instead of reacting to the actual state of affairs. As I am more removed now, due to living abroad, it is easier for me to vocalize all these emotions I have in response to Egypt, documentary-making, archiving and my own small role in this dynamic web of nodes.

And this web of nodes is the entry point to Alisa’s interactive documentary. Each one of us and our thoughts are represented as a network of themes. As you click on a character, you can further explore our clips organized by those themes. You can explore my node here and the always eloquent and thoughtful Khalid Abdalla is wonderful to watch. But please take your time and explore the diversity in voices.

Khalid Abdalla in

I remember very vividly how the end of 2013 was a dark and odd time in Egypt. The oppressive three month state of emergency and curfew had just been lifted, which were in place since August 14th of that year following the army-led massacre of the Rabaa protestors that killed 1,000 people in one day and that led to the largest polarization of a country I’ve ever experienced in my life.

It was a very hard time on all of us, we were a minority within what was becoming an unrecognizable fascist state; and watching these interviews today, I can see the heaviness in our eyes and in our words.

All of us wanted to give a part of ourselves, to contribute. We were all attempting to document, capture and create work that attempted to give justice to the narrative of the Egyptian Revolution – from those first 18 days in Tahir, to the numerous army and police abuses during the power vacuum after Mubarak stepped down, to the tumultuous rise and fall of the Muslim Brotherhood, to the rise of Sisi and his cult of personality (when this meta-doc was being filmed).

Watching these interviews today makes me proud of my peers and all the hard work, creativity and intelligence that exists in this brilliant community – low in spirit at this moment of time, but definitely not broken. And due to the beauty of interactive new media documentary (as we learned with 18DaysinEgypt), these projects are never finished, they are not bound by time, framework or rules. They can evolve, grow and respond to the shifts in history. And my hope is that one day Alisa will have to revisit the project and capture a brighter, higher point in Egyptian history-in-the-making.

More about the project here and in Alisa’s own words here. Visit Filming Revolution to watch all the interviews.