The story of Jesus Christ will soon be made accessible to audiences around the world in a groundbreaking new way. The 73rd Venice International Film Festival has announced it will screen a special 40-minute preview of what is being called "the first feature-length virtual reality film ever made", Jesus VR - The Story of Christ.
"We are particularly happy to present the world's first virtual reality feature film," said festival director Alberto Barbera. "Jesus helps show the narrative and spectacular potential of this new technology, which until now has been limited to brief films."
He added: "The presentation is particularly important, because this year the updated film market, now called Venice Production Bridge, is also presenting six VR projects among the 40 proposed audiovisual products in search of financing, alongside movies, documentaries, TV series and web series. It is a sign of the attention the Venice Film Festival pays to the sweeping changes which are helping redefine the horizons of the production of images in motion."
According to the AP, Jesus VR began filming in October 2015 and wrapped in that same month. The 90-minute film was shot entirely in Matera, Italy in 4K 360 Degrees, and goes back 2,000 years in time to show the story of Jesus Christ from his birth to his resurrection.
"Producers promise a you-are-there VR experience for the entirety of Jesus's life and death, from his baptism to the Sermon on the Mount, and from the Last Supper to his crucifixion," reads a report from Variety.
The Hollywood Reporter called it the most "ambitious feature-length virtual reality film ever produced," as it employed over a hundred crew members and hundreds of extras. The actual theater experience will be "equipped with 50 VR headsets and individual seats which pivot 360 degrees."
After the preview next month in Venice, the film will launch on consumer VR platforms just in time for Christmas.
David Hansen, whose credits include "Hellion," "Lovesong" and "Entertainment," directed and produced the movie: "The viewers truly feel they are there with Jesus and his disciples," he said in a statement. "This is the most powerful story of all time and virtual reality is the perfect way to tell it."
The film's executive produced by Enzo Sisti, a film vet whose credits include "The English Patient" and Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," and its religious adviser is Father William Fulco, who also consulting on "The Passion of the Christ."