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Virtual Reality has been called the ultimate empathy machine. Our VR films have an immediate effect on viewers. Instantly immersing them into a new world, sitting with people you may not normally meet, and seeing with their eyes.

From a first-person perspective of the humanitarian crisis in Greece to a woman’s experience of living with Alzheimer’s disease, this is a whole new way of connecting with complex social issues. Please see this SIMPLE GUIDE TO EXPERIENCE 360/VR for instructions and tips.

We know these VR films will provide you with an incredible springboard for discussion and action.

Get access to all of the following VR experiences by subscribing to SIMA Classroom.


SIMA Classroom Refugees


Refugees is a 360 documentary about the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Thousands have left their homes in search for a better future, and in their search they encounter dangerous obstacles. We went to Lesbos, Greece, where migrants take the leap from Turkey, putting their lives at risk, and captured some of the most intense moments in thrilling virtual reality.

7 min
Languages: English

SIMA Classroom Songs of the Vine


Shot over the span of two months in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, ‘Songs of the Vine’ is a virtual reality documentary focusing on the healing modalities, cosmovision and culture of the Shipibo, an indigenous group best known for their mastery of ayahuasca and sacred plant medicine. By immersing the viewer into the depths of the Amazon jungle, and exposing them to the songs and perspectives of Shipibo healers, ‘Songs of the Vine’ illustrates an ancient but increasingly relevant dynamic between humans and nature.

18 min
Languages: Spanish
Subtitles: English

SIMA Classroom Traces


Traces is a cinematic virtual reality film exploring the memories of one woman living with Alzheimer’s disease. In the film, the main character Willie White, an 88-year old woman living with dementia, recounts her time as a young girl living in the fields near Mason, Tennessee. As her words transport us back in time, traces of memory fall in and out — the old wooden farmhouse where she was raised, the coconut cakes her mom would make on Sunday mornings, her favorite white dress, the hymns she’d sing in the choir at church. Through these vibrant recollections, illustrated through re-enactments, we journey with Willie as she searches for the words to one of her favorite songs and the meaning of memory in this new and fragmented landscape.

8 min
Languages: English

SIMA Classroom Growing World Wonder


The Great Green Wall is an incredible, generation-defining project, yet the wider world seems to know very little about it. This film was created to change that, sharing its story in a way that feels spectacular, but also tangible on a human level. The Great Green Wall won’t be completed for a generation and for many of us it’s thousands of miles away, but with ‘Growing a World Wonder’, you can visit it right now, wherever you are.

4 min

SIMA Classroom Home


“Home: Aamir” is the first of a series of Surround Vision 360 degree films exploring the meaning of home through the stories of refugees in the Calais “Jungle”. This first film, a collaboration between the National Theatre, Surround Vision and Room One, follows a 22-year-old man escaping the threat of murder in Sudan.

12 min
The Jungle, Calais, France
Languages: English

SIMA Classroom Behind The Fence


Behind the Fence is a 360 virtual reality documentary that looks inside the 5×5 square mile camp that imprisons the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar, and investigates the extremist Buddhists who propagate virulent anti-Muslim sentiment across the country.Behind the Fence profiles Abul, a husband who does everything he can to try to help his sick wife, Barbulu, a twelve-year-old boy whose future is diminished due to the constraints of living in this open-air prison, and U Wirathu, the Buddhist leader of the 969 movement who stokes public support for restrictive laws that have rendered the Rohingya stateless in their own land.This is the first virtual reality film to document the Rohingya, who are surviving a Buddhist-led campaign to eliminate them. Experts say the Rohingya are most persecuted people on earth, facing a genocide intended to erase them.

8 min
Languages: Rohingya
Subtitles: English

SIMA Classroom Walking With Reality


Evan W. Gadda is a student at the University of Nevada, Reno studying Musical Theatre. The team at @One Digital Media within the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center was able to bring a virtual reality experience to him with the hopes to bring this to more people.erase them.

3 min
Languages: English


Beirut’s Shatila camp was built in 1949 for 3,000 Palestinian refugees, but now hosts up to 40,000 people, including many Syrians displaced by war. Appalling conditions and bleak prospects for the future leave families longing for their lost homes. Three generations of a Palestinian family describe how the camp has evolved into an urban slum. A Syrian father recalls the shelling of his home and the dangers that drove him to flee the country with his four young children.

8 min
North America | Lebanon
USA | Lebanon
Languages: English, Arabic

Anthropocene: Dandora

The Dandora Landfill is the largest of its kind in Kenya. It receives industrial, agricultural, commercial and medical waste, amounting to about 2,000 tonnes per day. It is estimated that more than a million people live in the vicinity of the landfill. Residents work informally, sorting scrap by hand and selling it to recycling plants on site. The plastic hills and canyons of Dandora represent not only an entirely human landscape but also an emerging microeconomy. Prolific and easy to obtain, waste plastic has become a resource on its own, to be mined and sold as source material. But so much of it cannot be re-used and will be left to congeal in landfills, spilling into our waterways and oceans, eventually forming a significant sediment layer in the strata of the planet, and marking the Anthropocene in geological time.

Director: Nicholas de Pencier, Jennifer Baichwal, Edward Burtynsky
Producer: Nicholas de Pencier, Nadia Tavazzani

6 min
Language: English

The Atomic Tree

The Atomic Tree leads you on an immersive journey through the memories held within the Yamaki pine, a 400-year-old Japanese White Pine bonsai tree that survived the Atomic blast at Hiroshima. From its birthplace in the sacred island of Miyajima and ancient cedar forests imbued with Kami spirits, to the Yamaki family home in Hiroshima where it was cared for 350 years and witnessed and survived the atomic blast. Viewers will experience the intricate “living strands of relationship” woven between the human and non-human worlds in the places the tree has lived. What are the connections and conversations that exist within the memories of the tree? How can those memories help us regain a sense of kinship with the natural world?

Director: Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee & Adam Loften
Producers: Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, Adam Loften

10 min
Language: English


Film has be holding a mirror up to society since the late 1800s. Virtual reality is the latest iteration in this history of visual storytelling. Just like any media format, evaluation and criticism are necessary to push art forward to effectively and responsibly shape culture and influence society. Here, students will learn just that by acting as film festival programmers and analyzing SIMA VR films and their effectiveness for social change.