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MWM Studios has acquired the rights to adapt Lynette Wallworth’s virtual reality experience Awavena as an animated feature.
Awavena, which premiered at Sundance and is screening in the VR competition lineup of the Venice Film Festival, follows the true story of Hushahu, a woman who fought against tradition to become the first-ever female shaman of the Yawanawa people, an indigenous tribe in the Amazon.
Wallworth combines documentary footage with a VR immersive experience that re-creates the spiritual visions of the shaman. The 18-minute work tells how Hushahu’s mentor Tata comes to believe the survival of the Yawanawa depends on his willingness to break with tradition and share the ancient tribal power with women.
“Hushahu’s story is that of a girl child’s vision for her future — a future which might never have come to pass,” says Wallworth. “That story is universal for women around the world, and a longform animation will allow it to inspire young women the world over.”
Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane of MWM will produce the animated feature, with Adrian Alperovich executive producing. Stacy Keppler Calabrese will oversee the project for the studio. Wallworth and Nicole Newnham will also produce the adaptation in collaboration with the Yawanawa community of Mutum.
MWM Immersive was a financier for Awavena, with Pritzker serving as an exec producer. Wallworth finished postproduction for the VR project as part of the artist residency program of the Technicolor Experience Center.
Wallworth, an Australian visual artist, became the first filmmaker to win an Emmy award for a VR work with 2017 honoree Collisions, which Pritzker executive produced. The project, which follows an elder of the indigenous Australian tribe the Martu, won for outstanding new approaches to documentary filmmaking.
Check out the trailer for the VR version of Awavena below.
This story also appears in The Hollywood Reporter‘s Sept. 8 daily issue at the Toronto Film Festival.
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