May 16, 2017 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)
With The Enemy, internationally acclaimed photojournalist Karim Ben Khelifa steps up his quest to change people’s attitudes toward armed conflicts, violence, and the suffering they produce. This virtual-reality experience puts a human face on armed fighters, dropping audiences squarely into the combat zones of long-standing conflicts. The Enemy will have its world premiere at the Institut du monde arabe in Paris, from May 18 to June 4, followed by its North American premiere in Boston (October to December 2017) and its Canadian premiere in Montreal (winter 2018). Ben Khelifa will also go on a Canadian media tour, and the project’s augmented- and mixed-reality app will be accessible worldwide starting in summer 2017. The international co-production uses unprecedented, powerful encounters with combatants from opposing camps to show that both sides are in fact more alike than different. The Enemy is co-produced by Camera Lucida Productions, France Télévisions, the NFB, Dpt. and Emissive.
Two enemies stand face to face, observing each other. Each in turn reveals the reasons behind their decision to go to war: how they came to take up arms to defend their values, their family, their tribe or their faith, like their parents and forefathers did. 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?
A multiuser installation and global tour
In development for over three years, The Enemy has been featured at some of the world’s most prestigious festivals (Tribeca, IDFA), as well as at MIT. Now, 20 visitors at a time will have a chance to come face-to-face with six combatants from three areas of long-standing conflict: Israel/Palestine, Congo and El Salvador. Participants will be placed between these enemies at the point where their gazes intersect. Seeking to create a lifelike experience, the immersive installation reveals the aspirations and hopes—often similar—of the fighters from each camp. Each visitor is equipped with a VR headset and PC backpack and able to move freely within the 300 m2 exhibition space.
For the virtual-reality museum installation, Camera Lucida partnered with Paris-based studio and immersive-technology experts Emissive.
The app: making The Enemy accessible to audiences everywhere
The Enemy is also an augmented-reality and mixed-reality app for iOS and Android mobile devices. The app will be launched worldwide in summer 2017 to make it as accessible as possible—even to audiences in the conflict zones represented.
To create the app, the NFB joined forces with Montreal-based digital creation studio Dpt.
The Enemy is an innovative, immersive experience at the intersection of virtual reality, neuroscience, artificial intelligence and storytelling. For the first time, this cutting-edge installation brings together virtual reality and 3D reconstructions based on documentary material gathered in the field. The project also employs artificial intelligence, drawing on the work of Fox Harrell, associate professor at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). As each visitor is unique, so too is their experience with The Enemy: recorded throughout the installation, their behaviour determines how the story ultimately unfolds.
Follow The Enemy at theenemyishere.org/en.
Written and directed by Karim Ben Khelifa
Chloé Jarry, Camera Lucida, Producer
Antonin Lhôte, Project Manager, France Télévisions Nouvelles Écritures
Louis-Richard Tremblay, Producer, NFB
Fabien Barati, Executive Producer, Emissive
Nicolas S. Roy, Executive Producer and Creative Director, Dpt.
About Karim Ben Khelifa
Karim Ben Khelifa has been a war correspondent for publications such as Le Monde, Stern, Vanity Fair, The 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).
Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailers, synopsis: The Enemy
The Enemy Facebook.
Institut du monde arabe
Camera Lucida Productions