Could this be the year of virtual reality? One Chilean director seems to think so. Leo Mendel, the mind behind films like 2008’s Papá o 36 mil juicios de un mismo suceso and 2016’s Coach, has turned his sights toward the emerging possibilities of immersive storytelling in his latest project Constitución – and he’s convinced things are just getting started for VR filmmaking. At least in Chile that’s certainly the case, and Constitución is being billed as the first-ever Chilean virtual reality feature.
Adapting a number of different techniques currently being explored on the cutting edge of the format, Constitución follows the experience of a fashion photographer who wakes up with amnesia following a traumatic accident. As his wife tends to him in bed, our protagonist drifts in and out of a dream state that takes him back and forth between his room and the coastal town of Constitución. The whole thing plays out like a hallucinogenic nightmare, with moments of purely experiential VR pleasure mixed in with a David Lynch-worthy narrative labyrinth.
The trailer for Constitución poses a unique set of challenges, given that this immersive experience had to be translated back onto a traditional, two-dimensional screen. Mendel solved the problem by throwing a VR headset on actress Mariana di Girolamo and recording her as she watched through the whole thing for the first time. Judging from her reactions, the experience is by turns exhilarating and terrifying – or maybe di Girolamo was just freaked out by facing her own image in the headset. A quick montage of shots from the actual film give us a deeper sense of what to expect, including plenty of sex and guns.
Overall Constitución seems like a formally daring contribution to the growing body of VR storytelling from one of South America’s most interesting creative scenes. With a wide open future for the medium, we can be confident this is just the beginning.