Goliath: Playing with Reality is a new Oculus Quest movie that is set to debut at the Venice International Film Festival on September 1. The 25-minute piece will also come to the Oculus Quest store itself on September 9th. Goliath was created by Created by Anagram, the team that brought you The Collider and Door into the Dark, Winners of the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Storyscapes award, the 2019 Sandbox Immersive Art award, and part of the Best VR in 2019 at the Venice International Film Festival.
Lending her voice as Echo, Oscar-winner Tilda Swinton plays the Guide through the many realities of Goliath in this mind-bending adventure. Goliath: Playing with Reality follows the true story of the titular Goliath, a man with a troubled upbringing who loses his parents and is diagnosed with schizophrenia. He is taken into a psychiatric institution where he spends several years on strong medication, mostly in isolation. On his release, he finds connection through playing online multiplayer video games.
“Goliath is an exploration of the places we choose to feel safe in, and what it means to experience someone else’s reality,” directors Murphy and Abdalla said in a statement. “Through the use of VR technology, we immerse users in a world where things aren’t as they seem in an effort to unpack our preconceptions and prejudices around mental health and the shame engendered by psychiatric disorders.”
Goliath aims to explore schizophrenia in an empathic light, taking players through shifting worlds and combining heartfelt dialogue, mesmerizing visuals, and symbolic interactions to uncover its poignant story. In a statement to Labiennale, Murphy explains, “In Goliath, we introduce users to a world where things aren’t as they seem. This story helps us grasp how fragile reality is and how easy it is to lose sight of it. Ultimately this experience is about our preconceptions and prejudices around mental health and about how the shame engendered by so-called psychiatric disorders distances us from the feelings of people presenting these behaviors. Because of this, society struggles to grasp the concrete ramifications of this phenomenon.”
Added Murphy regarding Tilda Swanton’s character, Echo, “Tilda brought an understanding and otherworldly gravitas that lifted the character of Echo and the experience out of the ordinary. We hope her collaboration brings new audiences to the medium and with it, a deeper awareness of the subject matter of ‘Goliath.’”
Goliath: Playing With Reality is part of the 2021 Venice Film Festival’s VR lineup presenting some three dozen titles, taking place Sept. 1-11 at the festival’s main venue as well as online via HTC’s Viveport and Facebook’s Oculus from Sept. 1-19. Goliath: Playing With Reality was funded in part by Facebook Reality Labs’ Oculus VR for Good, an initiative designed to support content creators who see VR as “a way to make the world a better place.” Other support was provided by the British Film Institute, awarding funds from the National Lottery; Creative XR, Digital Catapult and the Arts Council England; Centre National du Cinéma et de L’image Animée; and StoryFutures Academy. It was developed thanks to La Biennale di Venezia – Biennale College Cinema VR.