To commemorate the second anniversary of the tragic death of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy who drowned whilst attempting to reach Greece in 2015, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and acclaimed author Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, And the Mountains Echoed) has written SEA PRAYER, an imagined letter in the form of a monologue, from a Syrian father to his son lying asleep on his lap, on the eve making the sea crossing to Europe to see refuge and safety.
SEA PRAYER is the first narrative animated virtual reality film created using Tilt Brush, a tool for painting in a 3D space with virtual reality. Using this tool, the Guardian’s in-house VR team, in collaboration with acclaimed VR artist Liz Edwards, have brought Hosseini’s sensitive imagining of this letter to life.
Narrated by Adeel Akhtar, who plays the role of the father in the piece, the poetic text reflects back on the great city Homs the father grew up in, now a devastated war zone which he and his son are being forced to leave behind, and the dangerous sea crossings that lie ahead.
Throughout SEA PRAYER, Hosseini’s powerful story is brought to life for viewers through Liz Edwards’s illustrations. Using Tilt Brush as a storytelling tool, SEA PRAYER develops around the viewer, with vivid images growing and new characters coming into view as the story progresses allowing the viewer to be immersed in the story as it is being narrated to them.
The piece is accompanied by a moving score, composed for SEA PRAYER by Sahba Aminikia, an Iranian-American contemporary classical music composer, and performed by American string quartet Kronos Quartet and musician David Coulter, who is widely regarded as one of the world's foremost musical saw players.
Made and produced by The Guardian in collaboration with UNHCR.