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After the Arab World Institute in Paris and the MIT Museum in Boston, the NFB and Phi present The Canadian Debut of The Enemy at the Phi Centre. An unprecedented multi-user virtual reality experience that examines war in a new way, on view from February 10 through March 10.


Creator and director Karim Ben Khelifa will be at the Phi Centre’s press visit on February 12 to present his project to the media.

January 26, 2018 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

The Enemy, a virtual reality installation by photojournalist Karim Ben Khelifa will be presented by the NFB and Phi from February 10 to March 10. It is an unprecedented experience, available in English and French, that reveals the human side of war through the stories of six combatants fighting in three of the world’s most complex wars: the gang wars in El Salvador, the civil war in Democratic Republic of Congo and the Israel-Palestine conflict. By meeting these combatants face-to-face through virtual reality, visitors find themselves in the journalist’s seat and become invested in trying to bring the world’s attention to these conflicts and the suffering they produce.

Coproduced by Camera LucidaFrance Télévisions Nouvelles Écritures, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), Dpt. and Emissive

“We make sense of the world through stories and we remember it through experiences.” – Karim Ben Khelifa.

Trying to understand the inconceivable

Gilad and Abu Khaled, Jean de Dieu and Patient, Amilcar Vladimir and Jorge Alberto: They are at war on a daily basis, but in The Enemy, they appear face to face to answer Karim Ben Khelifa’s questions and share personal and exclusive stories. What exactly do we know about these combatants? What do we really understand about the motives that push human beings to engage in combat—putting themselves at risk of both being killed and becoming killers themselves? And why continue to fight over the course of several generations? What does freedom look like for these warriors? What is their future?

Being in front of these men, and sometimes in between them, gives the visitor a better glimpse of their feelings. “I think that the most important factor is suddenly being able to read someone’s body language and feel their presence. They are talking directly to you,” Karim Ben Khelifa said during an interview with La Presse.

An unprecedented immersive experience

Twenty users at a time can experience these remarkable virtual reality meetings at the museum installation. Equipped with a VR headset and PC backpack, visitors are able to move freely in a room designed with three virtual spaces, each containing two combatants from opposing camps of a conflict. Photos and Karim Ben Khelifa’s voice guide the visitors before they meet the combatants, who look at and talk to them. For the installation, Camera Lucida partnered with studio Emissive from Paris, an expert in immersive technology.

The Enemy is also available as an augmented reality app, available for iOS and Android devices, that allows users to recreate the face-to-face meetings in their own homes. The app was developed in Montreal by digital creative studio Dpt. and the NFB.

At the crossroads of virtual reality, neuroscience, artificial intelligence and storytelling, The Enemy received the Rose d’or award in the Virtual Reality category, given by the European Broadcasting Union in Berlin in September 2017.

An international co-production by
Camera Lucida
France Télévisions Nouvelles Écritures
National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

Supported by
Canada Media Fund (CMF)
Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée
Nouvelles technologies en production et Fonds Nouveaux Médias
With the participation of DICRéAM
With the participation of l’INA
Supported by
The TFI New Media Fund
The Ford Foundation
The Sundance Institute New Frontier Program
The Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art
Doris Duke New Frontier Fellowship and the Open Society Foundations
The MIT Open Documentary Lab and the Arts Center for Art, Science and Technology at MIT
Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée
The Enemy has also been supported by Google Digital News Initiative.

Length: 50 minutes
Available in English and French
14 years and over 
Presented at the Phi Centre from February 10 to March 10

Opening hours:
Monday: Closed
Tuesday and Wednesday: 11 AM to 6 PM
Thursday and Friday: 11 AM to 9 PM
Saturday and Sunday: 10 AM to 6 PM
*Group reservations are possible between 9 AM and 11 AM every day, except Mondays.

Price: $15.50 (seniors and students: $13)
*Online ticket purchase is strongly recommended to reserve a time.

Karim Ben Khelifa

Karim Ben Khelifa has been a war correspondent for publications such as Le MondeSternVanity FairThe New York Times Magazine, and Newsweek in a number of war zones—among them, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Kashmir, Lebanon, Iran, North Korea, Libya, and Egypt. He has lived in Yemen, New York, and Paris, and now divides his time between Boston and Berlin. Karim is a member of the advisory board of the Observatory for Photojournalism of the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. He first launched this project with “Portraits of the Enemies,” which debuted at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, before being shown at the 19th annual war correspondents’ gathering at Bayeux. As part of this project, he was a Visiting Artist at the MIT Open Documentary Lab (2013–2015). Since June 2015, he has been a Visiting Scholar at the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program & Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and a Visiting Artist at the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST).


Related Products

Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailers, synopsis: The Enemy
App’s long demo
Trailer here.
The Enemy – Facebook.
The Enemy – website

Associated Links

Centre Phi
Camera Lucida Productions
France Télévisions
App Store – The Enemy
Google Play – The Enemy

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Dedicated to art in all its forms, Phi is a multidisciplinary arts and culture organization that cultivates all aspects of creation, development, production and dissemination. Phi is at the intersection of art, film, music, design and technology. Through eclectic programming and a strong emphasis on content creation, Phi fosters unexpected encounters between artists and audiences. Headquartered at the Phi Centre in Montreal Canada, Phi was created by Director and Founder Phoebe Greenberg.





For Centre Phi

Myriam Achard
Director of Public Relations and Communications
Tel.: 514 844-7474, ext. 5104

Media Relations

  • About the NFB

    The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is one of the world’s leading digital content hubs, creating groundbreaking interactive documentaries and animation, mobile content, installations and participatory experiences. NFB interactive productions and digital platforms have won over 100 awards, including 21 Webbys. To access this unique content, visit NFB.ca.