Virtual Reality is cool. Not technically great yet but it is impossible not to be personally and emotionally engaged with a genuine story when you are suddenly within arm’s reach of the story teller. Collisions is a small and resounding tale, a conversation with Nyarri Nyarri Morgan, a Martu man director Lynette Wallworth met in the Pilbara.
Wallworth recounts, “I first heard of Nyarri’s story four years ago on a hunting trip with the Martu women painters in the Western Desert. Hearing that I had been to Maralinga where Britain tested atomic bombs in the 1950s, Nyarri’s wife Nola turned to me with what felt like an instruction…”You have to talk to Nyarri” (from www.collisionsvr.com/about-the-film).”
Nyarri witnessed the atomic testing in the 50s on his land. I’ll say that again, Nyarri witnessed it, on his Country, with no warning, no explanation, no reparation or care. It is chilling to think, with everything we know now about the terrifying fall out and generational impact of radiation, that a government could so profoundly believe that Aboriginal land was devoid of any humanity worth being accountable for that they could do such harm.
What makes this film/VR experience work is how well we are immersed in Nyarri’s world. We are on the back of a ute as it makes its way down red, dusty roads, we fly over the top of their town at sunset, we hear Nyarri’s son talking and then turn to see him standing by the gate to their house, as if he has just welcomed us as a guest. The visual representation of the bomb explosion is more rudimentary but this is transcended by the emotional and ethical impact.
Wallworth travelled with British singer Anohni earlier this year on a 100km trek to protest against a uranium mine being built on Martu land. Her words encapsulate why it’s worth seeing this film, “I am there as an act of solidarity but it’s inevitable that I will be inspired. You move in a blinkered way through the tunnels of your life but when I’ve been with the Martu I’ve seen things from a much bigger point of view. It’s a heart-opening experience for me… You go where it’s warm.” (from The Guardian article An Act of Solidarity)
Collisions is screening at ACMI in Federation Square in Melbourne until January. It’s a free VR experience that goes for around 20 minutes but seats are limited so you’ll need to book.