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Experiments in RL/SL Video: Kinshasa 2.0

One evening in Real Life Bangkok, a Thai filmmaker friend of mine mentioned this project, a short, mixed-reality documentary about contemporary Congolese politics and human connection. It’s called “Kinshasa 2.0″ and was directed by Teboho Edkins as part of a project investigating concepts of democracy. Since I’ve been working on several projects relating obliquely to Africa in First Life, and my official job is in Second Life, I couldn’t wait to watch it…

marieandcarine_012 (Photo by “Youin3D”, shooting album)

From the synopsis:

Kinshasa 2.0 tells the story of how the arrest of Marie-Thérèse Nlandu, a woman from a prominent political family in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was publicised through the Internet and resulted in filmmaker Teboho Edkins visiting Kinshasa to see how the arrest has affected the family.

His film explores a tense, militarised Kinshasa, where it is extremely difficult to film, and using Second Life® – a 3D virtual chat program – he looks at his friend Carine’s attempt to keep in contact with her aunt Marie-Thérèse after she is released and goes into exile in Belgium.
The film moves between the real city and the heightened world of Second Life® accompanied by a silent observer – a wooden soldier that appears on the edge of most scenes observing, waiting, watching…

I have long thought that filming in Second Life (or that ghetto-izing term, “machinima”) has the potential for much more expansive creative use, particularly in documentary. Just as animation has now become common in documentary practice (see 2008′s jaw-dropping “Waltz with Bashir”), Second Life or similar platforms could open up fresh ways to explore complex spaces (real or imagined), to experiment with narrative, to question concepts of “truth” versus representation, to film the heretofore unfilmable.

I was so eager to watch “Kinshasa 2.0″, and admire it on many levels, but feel it still barely scratches the surface of its own conceit – ie, using Second Life as an intermediary space to challenge the very real contested urban space of Kinshasa under military rule. Still, it’s a start, and I can’t wait to see what comes next as more filmmakers decide to try their hand with SL…

See it on Youtube (Parts 1 and 2 below)


Blog — Miniature Tigerpaw, March 14, 2009 @ 2:06 am

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