“At this time, we want nothing other than the world to stop the air raids that kill us all and destroy our country,” says Akram. Akram is only 15 years old but has already lost a friend. His neighbors were killed when an air raid by the Saudi-led coalition hit their house in the old city of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa. Yemen’s Skies of Terror, an immersive film by Contrast VR, provides a rare glimpse of life inside Yemen after three years of war. The war in Yemen is entering its fourth year with no end in sight, with over 76% of its population in need of humanitarian aid and millions facing food insecurity. Thousands of air raids have fallen on the country, and Akram’s story is only one of many. Follow Akram, 7-year-old Wedad, and 17-year-old Abu Bakr as they take you through Yemen and show how their lives have been impacted.
Yemen’s Skies of Terror was filmed by two local journalists, Ahmad Algohbary, based in Sana’a, the capital, and Manal Qaed Alwesabi, based in the port city of Hodeidah. Our team first came into contact with Manal and Ahmad in December 2017, whom we identified as promising journalists to equip with small 360-degree cameras. In line with our other work training and equipping journalists to report in 360 from their own communities, we also wanted to replicate the same model in Yemen. Once the equipment was handed off to Ahmad and Manal, we began a four month journey together that spanned over endless WhatsApp messages and phone calls.
After running through initial remote training, we worked together to capture the stories of those impacted by the air raids in Yemen. Putting detailed lists of additional shots that were needed, we sent countless rounds of feedback to both of the journalists, as well as giving different tips to improve their 360 filming techniques. With connectivity being so sporadic and unreliable in a war-torn country, communication and transfer of footage was often delayed and prolonged, but the journalists worked diligently, shooting, sending, receiving feedback, and then reshooting.
They captured the stories of three young characters, two of whom were 15 and 17 years old, and one who was as young as 7 years old. The documentary fills the gap in today’s media narrative by showing the toll that the war in Yemen is taking on those who must live in constant fear of the skies.