“The idea that I was excited about was the idea of empowered women. The idea that women facing the most extreme violence would use force against that violence, which we never really see,” said Maria Bello, producer of virtual reality documentary The Sun Ladies, which follows a troop of Yazidi women fighters.

After ISIS soldiers invaded the Yazidi community of Sinjar, killing all of the men and taking the women and girls as sex slaves, these brave women escaped and formed a female-only fighting unit to bring back their sisters and protect the honor and dignity of their people.

“There’s been a lot of stories and movies about women as victims and very early on we decided not to do that even though those women have been through the worst,” said co-director Celine Tricart. “Our perspective on it was that yes they are victims but that’s not what’s important about them. What’s important is that they are fighting back and we want to tell stories about women who are empowered, taking back their pride, their honor, and their dignity.”

Speaking to decision to tell the story in an immersive live-action format, co-director Christian Stephen, said through his years as a war photographer, he’s seen “a mass fatigue of all the bloodshed all of the terror that’s ongoing” and while “2-D is still very powerful” the VR experience offers “a new way to bring you into the story through empathy.”

For more on the making of documentary, see the video above.

The Deadline Studio is presented by Hyundai. Special thanks to Calii Love.