My Mother's Wing

“My Mother’s Wing,” an eight minute VR experience created by Gabo Arora and Ari Palitz takes place in Gaza and shows a mother after losing two of her children to a shelling on their school while they were using it as a UN shelter. It was released by the UN at an event in Tel Aviv on March 2, 2016. After the release, the creator and a local UN worker wandered the streets with Samsung VR headsets to show Israeli citizens the piece. They hoped that it would change how they think about Palestinians, trying to “humanize the suffering”.

I found the video very interesting because it showed something I had not seen before in a personal way. The woman narrating is a 37 year old mother who is the center of the story and narrates in the first person. At first, I found it somewhat confusing because it was not immediately clear that the person talking is the same person as in the video because she was filmed doing normal activities (except at the end when I believe she was talking to the camera). I understand the choice to do things that way, however, because the video was translated into many languages and it would be confusing for her to be speaking in the video but not have the words match up. An idea I had while watching that could make it more moving, but also could make it more confusing, was to film from her point of view. There was one point in the video where one of her children who survived looks up at the camera and it made me think that if the camera were from his mother’s point of view we would get a lot more moments like that. Also, that might make things harder to interpret, so it would require experimentation.

There were a few technical details that I felt could have been done better in the film. First, there was one scene with a railing very close to the camera and my eyes had trouble with the depth perception because the background was very light without many details. I do not know why exactly this made it difficult, but it did. Additionally, there was a scene in a car which I thought was useful for the story but could have been shorter because by the end of the scene I felt slightly motion sick (the car was bumpy, but obviously my stationary chair was not).

Lastly, there were some scenes where I had to look around a bit to find the center of the scene. This could have been intentional to force the viewer to see the destruction in the background, but it mostly made me feel like I might miss something by not finding the main part of the scene fast enough.

In all, I found the video moving and thought it “humanized the suffering” in a way an ordinary video could not because I felt immersed in the woman’s home and life. As I said before, I think it could have been more immersive if it were from her point of view, but it worked well as is as well.