UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the European Union launched today an innovative 360-degree interactive film that tells the story of a young woman from Venezuela who fled from her country in search of safety in Ecuador.
On the Other Side is a virtual reality film that aims to create empathy among the European and global public about the situation of Venezuelans who have left their country due to insecurity, persecution and widespread shortages of basic goods and services. With more than 6 million refugees and migrants, the exodus from Venezuela is one of the largest external displacement crises in the world. Over half a million Venezuelans have found a home in Ecuador.
“We hope that this project will help the public to better understand the courage and resilience that refugees and migrants need to show during the dangerous journeys they embark on,” said José Samaniego, UNHCR Director for the Americas. “This film highlights the need to continue providing emergency assistance to Venezuelans on the move, while also investing in solutions to ensure they can contribute to their host communities.”
Some of the countless risks that refugees and migrants face are portrayed in the film through the story of the protagonist, Arianna. She had to leave Venezuela and, after crossing Colombia on foot, she is now trying to join her older sister in Ecuador, where she hopes to resume her studies and achieve her dream of becoming a doctor. Hundreds of Venezuelans like Arianna endure hardship every day during their journey, braving the cold weather and exposed to dangers such as exploitation and abuse.
“After several years of a crisis that continues to force Venezuelans to flee their country, it is necessary to remember that humanitarian needs persist and are even worsening,” says Álvaro De Vicente, Head of DG ECHO´s regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean. “I hope that this project will help us not to forget the critical situation suffered by all Venezuelans on the move. The time that has passed since the beginning of the crisis has not helped to find a solution, rather the opposite, and this must be shown.”
Throughout the film, viewers will help Arianna make three key decisions that will shape her future. This interactive film is fictional but based on true stories. Written jointly with dozens of refugees and migrants in Ecuador, On the other side will allow the audience to walk a mile in their shoes and face the difficult choices they have to make on a daily basis.