The Canadian debut of
The Enemy at Phi Centre
An unprecedented multi-user virtual reality experience that examines war in a new way
After the Arab World Institute in Paris and the MIT Museum in Boston, the NFB and Phi present the Canadian debut of The Enemy, a virtual reality installation by photojournalist Karim Ben Khelifa, at the Phi Centre, from February 10 to March 10.
It is an unprecedented experience, available in English and French, that reveals the human side of war through the stories of six combatants fighting in three of the world’s most complex wars: the gang wars in El Salvador, the civil war in Democratic Republic of Congo and the Israel-Palestine conflict. By meeting these combatants face-to-face through virtual reality, visitors find themselves in the journalist’s seat and become invested in trying to bring the world’s attention to these conflicts and the suffering they produce.
We make sense of the world through stories and we remember it through experiences.
Karim Ben Khelifa
Trying to understand the inconceivable
Gilad and Abu Khaled, Jean de Dieu and Patient, Amilcar Vladimir and Jorge Alberto: They are at war on a daily basis, but in The Enemy, they appear face to face to answer Karim Ben Khelifa’s questions and share personal and exclusive stories. What exactly do we know about these combatants? What do we really understand about the motives that push human beings to engage in combat – putting themselves at risk of both being killed and becoming killers themselves? And why continue to fight over the course of several generations? What does freedom look like for these warriors? What is their future?
Being in front of these men, and sometimes in between them, gives the visitor a better glimpse of their feelings. “I think that the most important factor is suddenly being able to read someone’s body language and feel their presence. They are talking directly to you”, Karim Ben Khelifa said during an interview with La Presse.
An unprecedented immersive experience
Twenty users at a time can experience these remarkable virtual reality meetings at the museum installation. Equipped with a VR headset and PC backpack, visitors are able to move freely in a room designed with three virtual spaces, each containing two combatants from opposing camps of a conflict. Photos and Karim Ben Khelifa’s voice guide the visitors before they meet the combatants, who look at and talk to them. For the installation, Camera Lucida partnered with studio Emissive from Paris, an expert in immersive technology.
‘Being in front of these men, and sometimes in between them, gives the visitor a better glimpse of their feelings.’
The Enemy is also available as an augmented reality app, available for iOS and Android devices, that allows users to recreate the face-to-face meetings in their own homes. The app was developed in Montreal by digital creative studio Dpt. and the NFB.
At the crossroads of virtual reality, neuroscience, artificial intelligence and storytelling, The Enemy received the Rose d’or award in the Virtual Reality category, given by the European Broadcasting Union in Berlin in September 2017.
The Enemy is an international co-production by Camera Lucida, France Télévisions Nouvelles Écritures, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), Dpt. and Emissive.
With the participation of DICRéAM and the INA. With support from the Canada Media Fund (CMF), Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée, Nouvelles technologies en production et Fonds Nouveaux Médias, the TFI New Media Fund, the Ford Foundation, the Sundance Institute New Frontier Program, the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, the Doris Duke New Frontier Fellowship and the Open Society Foundations, the MIT Open Documentary Lab and the Arts Center for Art, Science and Technology at MIT, Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée and the Google Digital News Initiative.
407 Saint-Pierre, Montreal
From February 10 to March 10
Length: 50 minutes
Available in English and French
14 years and over
Tuesday and Wednesday: 11 am to 6 pm
Thursday and Friday: 11 am to 9 pm
Saturday and Sunday: 10 am to 6 pm
*Group reservations are possible between 9 am and 11 am every day, except Mondays.
Price: $15.50 (seniors and students: $13)
*Online ticket purchase is strongly recommended to reserve a time.
Karim Ben Khelifa
Karim Ben Khelifa has been a war correspondent for publications such as Le Monde, Stern, Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine, and Newsweek in a number of war zones – among them, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Kashmir, Lebanon, Iran, North Korea, Libya, and Egypt. He has lived in Yemen, New York, and Paris, and now divides his time between Boston and Berlin. Karim is a member of the advisory board of the Observatory for Photojournalism of the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. He first launched this project with Portraits of the Enemies, which debuted at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, before being shown at the 19th annual war correspondents’ gathering at Bayeux. As part of this project, he was a Visiting Artist at the MIT Open Documentary Lab (2013–2015). Since June 2015, he has been a Visiting Scholar at the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program & Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and a Visiting Artist at the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST).
National Film Board of Canada
The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is one of the world’s leading digital content hubs, creating groundbreaking interactive documentaries and animation, mobile content, installations and participatory experiences. NFB interactive productions and digital platforms have won 100 awards, including 17 Webbys. To access acclaimed NFB content, visit NFB.ca or download its apps for smartphones, tablets and connected TV.
Images: courtesy of Centre Phi
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Phi is a multidisciplinary arts and culture organization dedicated to art in all its forms that cultivates all aspects of creation, development, production and dissemination. Phi is at the intersection of art, film, music, design and technology. Through eclectic programming and a strong emphasis on content creation, Phi fosters unexpected encounters between artists and audiences. Headquartered at the Phi Centre in Montreal Canada, Phi was created by Director and Founder Phoebe Greenberg.