Virtual Reality: Inside Manus (2017)


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Three men who have been held in detention on Manus Island tell their stories in an affecting graphic novel style of virtual reality.

Virtual reality is often visually crude but there is nothing like it for immersing you emotionally and intellectually into the middle of human experience. Inside Manus moved me to tears as I felt the reality of what had brought these three people to Australian shores and the inhuman and degrading treatment they have since experienced.

One man says, “I am not a criminal but I have been treated like one” and this is true for them all. Imran, a Rohingya Muslim, fled Myanmar six years ago where the UN is investigating allegations of mass killing, rape and torture of his people. He simply states, “I have been tortured and persecuted but I have also been loved. I hope one day to be a doctor and have a family.”

Aziz fled the genocide in Darfur, Sudan after being told to rape and kill his sister. He says, “If you are a good person, you cannot choose that. Your only other choice is the ocean.” More than 700 of the men held on Manus have been found to be genuine refugees yet remain there with no resettlement plan in place.

The visual style is interesting and I watched a video afterward showing how the artist drew each scene virtually in 3-D. I had difficulty focusing on the image, even after adjusting my headset, which seemed a bit more basic than others I’ve used, but it didn’t stop the stories of these people profoundly affecting me.

Have you seen this film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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