The virtual reality film below tells the story of a child bride through the eyes of her friend. You can watch it now in 360 degree view. On your desktop, explore using your arrow keys, mouse, or trackpad. To watch on your mobile device, simply move your phone to look around. For a fully immersive experience, scroll down to apply for a free VR viewer. The film was directed by Gabo Arora and Fifer Garbesi. In the story Arora explains why making the film affected him so deeply.
It is always hardest to tell stories that touch close to home. Over the past years, I have made virtual reality documentaries on the Syrian refugee crisis, the conflict in Gaza, the testimony of a Holocaust survivor, and the American nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, to name just a few. These were all issues I felt strongly about, and many had strong parallels with my own personal family history of displacement and violence, yet - for the most part - I was able to maintain a safe emotional distance from the heart of the story. I felt this helped me be a better storyteller. The View From The Mountain is a new direction because it touches me personally.
My origins are South Asian, like Kavita and Manita's who are from Nepal.
Many of the challenges they face in dealing with gender inequities have affected my own family, and my own experiences growing up in India.
There are differences all over the world between people though in South Asia these differences are far more stark.
This has always been hard to deal with and confront.
As a child I would always wonder, why was I inside an air-conditioned house while other children slept in malarial infested slums just down the road?
Even within my own family, I was also keenly aware of how different I was treated because I was a boy. Was it just the lottery of my birth that allowed for such differences to occur?
I could never reconcile these feelings. I felt a sadness, a shame and even a complicity in allowing such injustices to remain.
It is probably why when I heard Kavita and Monita's story I felt so drawn towards it.
It is a story of a friendship. Though it is equally a story of addressing this unease as one person progresses towards their dreams - while another does not.
Despite the odds and the despair of the circumstances, both Kavita and Monita display a grace and resilience that knows no bounds.
They are not victims, rather they are active change agents who work hard to make things better not only for themselves, but for their community at large.
Despite having little, they give a lot. It was inspiring to witness.
Through the immersive powers of virtual reality, I am hopeful others will be moved by Kavita and Manita's story, their immense courage, and feel a sense of solidarity with their struggle and moved to support their efforts in whatever way they can.