Italian-born director and fashion photographer Francesco Carrozzini is known on the festival circuit for “Franca: Chaos and Creation,” the doc he made about his mother, the late, influential editor of Italian Vogue Franca Sozzani, which world-premiered in Venice in 2016. He’s back on the Lido this year with “X-Ray Fashion,” a cinematic VR experience that guides the viewer through different stages of garment production: from cotton farm to sweatshop, and from catwalk to consumer purchase to the afterlife of the garment. The piece, which is in the Venice VR competition, packs a powerful punch in exposing the dark side of the fashion industry which, it claims, is responsible for 20% of global wastewater and 10% of global carbon emissions and is linked to human rights violations. Carrozzini spoke to Variety about about the challenge of conveying this in an immersive way to make people think about the inherent consequences of the clothes they wear.
How did the project originate?
Giulia Camilla Braga from the World Bank and Connect for Climate called me to tell me about the winning project of their contest to incentivize young VR creators … I knew almost nothing about VR, but the story of course spoke to me; to my past and my present, because it talks about certain darker sides of an industry that fed me for a long time.
How aware were you of these topics?
To be honest with you, not as much as I should have. I read the project and I realized that it takes 10,000 liters of water to make a pair of jeans. I don’t think many people know that. I felt bad; it was a bit of a punch.
How did you approach the VR aspect?
The difference between film and VR is the manipulation of space vs. time, because, really, VR is like directing theater. It’s not like directing film. And it’s like putting your audience on the stage. So it’s really the opposite concept of what my job so far has been with film. It’s such a counter-intuitive process for a filmmaker; but in the end it’s storytelling so you just have to find a way to tell the story.
Would you say this piece is a call to action?
Absolutely. It’s not just about the dark side of the fashion industry, but about what we can do to change it. Immersing people in a sweatshop in the middle of India, and in other situations while you acquire this information I hope can make it a pretty powerful emotional experience. The fact that you can almost live the experience is really the power of VR right now.