In the context of the Black Lives Matter movement, an XR experience aimed at empowering Black girls is set to move to the production phase. Anouschka tells the interactive story of a girl that gets to discover her Black roots and the magic powers she possesses in order to save her family. Inspired by the Black Girl Magic ethos and written by Elinor T. Vanderburg and Sandy Bosmans, the XR experience will be produced by Jamari Perry and Riyad Alnwili, and directed by the award-winning director Tamara Shogaolu.
The plot of the upcoming interactive animation focuses on Amara, a Black teenage girl living in Amsterdam. She must save her grandmother and twin brother from an ancient curse running through her family. In doing so, Amara travels over the world and back in time to learn about her magical powers.
In this interactive XR film, the audience will be able to help the main character in her journey. They will be able to interact with the animated environment through wall projections, motion sensors, and voice recognition, and help Amara collect magical items and grow her powers.
These interactions are possible thanks to the Bemmbé Interactive™ platform developed by Ado Ato Pictures. The technology used for this platform removes the need for XR devices and gadgets. Instead, the audience only needs to wear headphones.
Meanings and Values of the XR Experience
For director Tamara Shogaolu, this is more than just an opportunity to attract audiences with an exciting XR experience.
“Since I was a child, I have been yearning and dreaming to see and create a story like ANOUSCHKA, a story about a smart young Black girl raised in a world of magical Black women like those in my world. I am even more thrilled that I get the opportunity to make a story that is written by talented Black women, produced by Black women and directed by a Black woman,” Shogaolu said in a press release.
Innovator and recipient of several awards, Shogaolu is the founder and creative director of Ado Ato Pictures, the company producing Anouschka. So far, Shogaolu’s work has been featured at Tribeca Film Festival, Museum of Modern Art in New York, and National Gallery of Indonesia. She is a 2020 Creative Capital Award Recipient, and a 2020 Sundance New Frontier John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Grantee.
Shogaolu believes that Ado Ato Pictures’ Bemmbé Interactive™ platform is capable of creating “powerful and immersive experiences” for the audience, allowing them to live the story, not just watch it. The platform is scalable, thus the experience can be adjusted for various audience sizes and available physical spaces.
Empowering Black Women in the Tech World
The XR experience is an opportunity for the director to pave the road for Black women in the world of filmmaking and technology. For her, the upcoming production will be a valuable landmark.
”Until today, there has been no major studio animated feature film directed by a Black woman and there continues to be a glass ceiling and barriers to entry for Black women in tech, among many other fields. As a Black Latinx woman working at the intersection of film, animation and technology, I want to believe that I can contribute to shattering those ceilings by allowing Black girls like me to see themselves and their magic come to life, while re-imagining how technology can help us tell stories,” Shogaolu said.