Jennifer Hudson, Kate Winslet & Glenn Close Join VR Animated Film ‘Baba Yaga’

The immersive experience will invite viewers to be the main character of the film.

Kate Winslet, Jennifer Hudson, and Glenn Close have officially joined the acclaimed all-female cast alongside Daisy Ridley for the immersive animated film Baba Yaga.

Written and directed by Baobab Studios co-founder Eric Darnell (Madagascar franchise, Antz) and co-directed by Mathias Chelebourg, Baba Yaga is a contemporary re-telling of the famous Eastern European folktale. The short film combines classic animation with modern visual language by blending 2D pop-up animation, stop-motion styles, interactivity, and AI. The illustrative animation creates a unique experience that shows how a viewer’s choices can affect an overall ending.

The viewer serves as the main character in this haunting tale. The story surrounds the enigmatic witch Baba Yaga (Winslet) who must use her powers to stop villagers from settling into her enchanted forest (Hudson). When the viewer’s mother, The Chief (Close), becomes deathly ill, it is up to the viewer and their sister Magda (Ridley) to enter Baba Yaga’s forbidden terrain and obtain the cure for their mother. Every decision made by the viewer matters, and could ultimately decide whether the forest, its inhabitant, and humanity can live in peace.

Baba Yaga is a beautiful work of animation and I was honored to be an executive producer alongside my talented collaborators at Baobab Studios,” said Hudson. “While the story is rooted in classic folklore, we were inspired to bring it into modern light by focusing on environmental themes and strong female characters, themes the world needs to explore now more than ever. It was my pleasure to be part of the strong female cast alongside Daisy, Kate, and Glenn.”

“Creating Baba Yaga during a pandemic was especially challenging and we are grateful to Kate, Daisy, Glenn, and Jennifer for traveling with us on this unusual journey,” said Darnell. “Each of them rose to this unique occasion with tremendous energy and passion in creating their characters and I’m proud of what we accomplished together. It is validating to have our work recognized by the Venice Film Festival and we look forward to sharing the experience with VR audiences around the globe.”

The VR film will make its world premiere at the 77th Venice International Film Festival on September 2 as part of Venice VR Expanded, which showcases projects that delve into the virtual reality realm of filmmaking. The participating films will be accessible throughout the duration of the festival (September 2-12) to accredited viewers in the VR lounges of cultural institutions around the world, equipped with VR headsets. They are also accessible to viewers online using digital platforms that support Facebook’s Oculus, VRChat, and VRrOOm.

For more information on Baba Yaga, visit Baobab Studio’s website.

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