Kate Winslet, Jennifer Hudson and Glenn Close have joined previously announced lead Daisy Ridley in the cast of VR animated film “Baba Yaga,” which will make its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival.
Hudson is also an executive producer on the pic from Baobab Studios, which will make a push for the Oscar for animated short.
The film plays in Venice on Sept. 2 as part of Venice VR Expanded, the Virtual Reality section of the event. It was written and directed by Eric Darnell, whose credits include the “Madagascar” franchise and “Antz,” and co-directed by Mathias Chelebourg.
In “Baba Yaga,” viewers will be invited as a character into a fairytale world, and their choices could determine the ending of the story. The enigmatic witch Baba Yaga (Winslet) uses her powers to stop the villagers whose settlement encroaches on her enchanted Forest (Hudson). When the viewer’s mother, the Chief (Close), falls deathly ill, it is up to them and their sister Magda (Ridley) to enter the rainforest, uncover its mysteries and get the cure from Baba Yaga.
The film is a contemporary take on an Eastern European legend breathed to life with illustrative 2D pop-up animation, as well as hand-drawn and stop-motion styles. It is executive produced by Hudson, Maureen Fan, Larry Cutler, and Kane Lee.
Hudson said: “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.”
“Baba Yaga” will be available exclusively on Oculus Quest later this year.