German VR film portrays the Ukraine war
The VR film "You Destroy. We Create." shows how Ukrainian artists protect and sustain their country's culture in the midst of war.
Russia's war of aggression brought immense suffering to Ukraine. Thousands of civilians have been killed and millions of people have been forced to flee the country. But it is not only human lives that are being destroyed.
The country's art and culture are also under attack. And, with them, Ukraine's identity. According to UNESCO, more than 200 cultural sites have been damaged or destroyed since the war began. That includes nearly 100 religious sites, 16 museums, 77 historically or artistically important buildings, 18 monuments and 10 libraries.
"You Destroy. We Create" tells the story of Ukrainians who risk their lives to protect, rebuild, and preserve the art and culture of their country.
Dangerously close to war
Meta funded the approximately 25-minute VR film through the "VR for Good" initiative, which supports immersive storytelling with social impact. Berlin-based XR studio NowHere Media, who also created the war-themed project Home After War as part of VR for Good, produced You Destroy. We Create.
You Destroy. We Create uses a whole range of immersive film techniques and combines 180- and 360-degree shots with drone footage, photogrammetry scans, and computer animation.
During filming, studio founders Felix Gaedtke and Gayatri Parameswaran got very close to the war. For example, the team spent time with Ukrainian street artist Gamlet in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, 30 kilometers from the front lines.
"We constantly heard the bombs on the battlefield and were subject to air raid sirens," Gaedtke tells the Oculus blog. "Seeing Gamlet and his friends continue creating art and doing their work was really inspiring."
Cultural life must go on
On another occasion, they accompanied Gamlet to a Kharkiv nightclub welcoming patrons for the first time since the war began. The club owner explained that "having oases like that during such difficult times is so important."
"Culture is what brings people together and gives them identity," Gayatri Parameswaran says. "And art is able to express these in ways that nothing else can. These are the questions that our main protagonists had to ask themselves during the war. And the answer is what makes the film."
"You Destroy, We Create. The War on Ukraine's Culture" is available to watch now with Meta Quest 2. You can find the VR film on Meta Quest TV.