July 13, 2017 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)
Theodore Ushev’s animated short Blind Vaysha, nominated for Best Animated Short Film at the 2017 Oscars, will receive its North American premiere as a virtual-reality (VR) experience at Lucid Realities, the third instalment of the Sensory Stories immersive exhibition, held at Montreal’s Phi Centre from July 18 to December 16, 2017. Produced by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) with the participation of ARTE France and ICI ARTV, Blind Vaysha in VR uses Samsung Gear technology, and received its world premiere at the 2017 Annecy International Animation Film Festival. In all, 12 works will be presented at Lucid Realities, curated by Phi and Future of StoryTelling (FoST).
Vaysha is not like other young girls: She was born with one green eye and one brown eye. But her mismatched eyes aren’t the only thing that’s unusual about her gaze: Her left eye sees only the past, and her right eye only the future. Like a terrible curse, Vaysha’s split vision prevents her from living in the present. Blinded by what was and tormented by what will be, she remains trapped between two irreconcilable temporalities. “Blind Vaysha”—that’s what everyone calls her. Produced at the NFB by Marc Bertrand, with Julie Roy as executive producer and the participation of ARTE France and ICI ARTV.
Blind Vaysha: From film to virtual reality
For the Blind Vaysha virtual-reality experience, a different shooting approach was used. Normally, VR requires the use of several cameras, or one 360-degree camera, to reconstruct an immersive environment. In Blind Vaysha, Theodore Ushev instead opted for the two cameras of traditional stereoscopic animation, skilfully adapting them to his purposes. In order to create a stereoscopic image of a scene, it must be shot twice, from two slightly different positions separated by a distance equivalent to the distance between the eyes. When the two images are then projected onto a screen, the viewer must wear special glasses equipped with polarizing filters that fuse the two images into one and create the illusion of depth.
But in the Blind Vaysha VR experience, the audience is momentarily affected by a kind of visual disorder, because the two recorded images don’t always merge into a single, unified whole. In fact, each eye sees a different image. Ushev does this to fully immerse his audience in Vaysha’s world in the sequences shot from her subjective viewpoint, in which one eye sees only the past and the other only the future. This confusing perspective enables audiences not only to identify strongly with the protagonist, but also to have a visceral experience, disrupting their passive view of the world.
About the filmmaker
Bulgarian-born Canadian filmmaker Theodore Ushev has directed many award-winning animated films that have been distributed throughout the world. Since 2003, he’s directed a dozen works at the NFB, notably Lipsett Diaries and Gloria Victoria.
Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailers, synopsis: Blind Vaysha VR