alejandroA rare special Oscar is being awarded to a virtual reality installation created by Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu.

“Carne y Arena” tells the story of migrants trekking across the Sonorian desert in the US.

The Academy said they were presenting the award to recognize a “visionary and powerful experience in storytelling”.

The installation is based on the true accounts of migrants. Viewers of “Carne y Arena”, which was shown at the Cannes Film Festival this year and is currently on display in LA, Milan and Mexico City – don virtual reality headsets for the six-and-a-half minute experience.

They walk alone and barefoot across sand, joined by virtual migrants hoping to reach America, while border guards patrol the area.

Inarritu said he met and interviewed Central American and Mexican refugees while researching the project, adding: “Their life stories haunted me.”

He said he wanted the visitor “to go through a direct experience walking in the immigrants’ feet, under their skin, and into their hearts”.

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