Go Inside South Sudan’s Hunger Crisis — in 360° Video

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March 3, 2016
by Patrice Taddonio Assistant Director of Audience Development

In some regions of war-torn South Sudan, the only way to get food is to drop it from the sky. (FRONTLINE/Brown Institute)

South Sudan has vast stretches of fertile land, and plentiful water.

So why are more than 2.8 million people there going hungry — and at least 40,000 of them near starvation?

As the new virtual reality documentary On the Brink of Famine explores, the northeast African country’s burgeoning hunger crisis is man-made. Over the past two-plus years, a devastating civil war has forced hundreds of thousands of people to abandon their farmland and villages to escape the violence.

People like Nyakouth, who says she was kidnapped and raped when a pro-government militia attacked her village.

“They killed my nephew when he was out taking care of the cattle,” says Nyakouth, who eventually escaped her captors, and is now one of more than 120,000 residents being protected by United Nations peacekeepers at the country’s largest camp for displaced people.

Nyakouth is just one of the people you’ll meet in On the Brink of Famine — a virtual reality documentary released today in full on FRONTLINE’s Facebook page in partnership with the Brown Institute for Media Innovation.

Filmed in South Sudan this past summer on 360-degree cameras, the project is an immersive, up-close look at the country’s hunger crisis — taking viewers on a critical mission to drop food by plane to those trapped in swamplands, bringing them inside a U.N. camp where thousands have fled in search of safety, and visiting a clinic where Doctors Without Borders cares for children suffering from acute malnutrition.

“We wanted to transport viewers into the heart of this man-made catastrophe to meet the people who are experiencing it,” says the team behind the documentary, Evan Wexler, Marcelle Hopkins and Benedict Moran. “We hope that viewers come away with a better understanding of the causes of this crisis and how it affects people in South Sudan.”

With the U.N. warning that South Sudan faces unprecedented levels of food insecurity, go inside a country that is On the Brink of Famine here and below.

On the Brink of Famine is supported by FRONTLINE and by a “Magic Grant” from The David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation, a collaboration between Columbia and Stanford Universities. The Ford Foundation also supported the development of the project via its funding for FRONTLINE’s Enterprise Journalism Desk, and via a Ford Foundation JustFilms Fellowship at the Made in NY Media Center by IFP. The VR documentary is also available in French or German on ARTE.

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