Maria Bello Virtual Reality Project ‘The Sun Ladies’ Sets Limited Run At UCLA

Actress and producer Maria Bello is bringing a virtual-reality project to UCLA for a limited run.

Dean Teri Schwartz and the Department of Theater at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television present a Special Event: Maria Bello’s The Sun Ladies VR Project, which premiered at Sundance last year.

The Bello-produced project is an immersive, seven-minute, live-action documentary embedding theatergoers with a troop of Yazidi women fighters. After ISIS solders invaded the Yazidi community of Sinjar, killing all the men and taking the women and girls as sex slaves, a group of women escaped and started a fighting unit called the Sun Ladies.

The live-action sequence is directed by UCLA TFT M.F.A. directing candidate Aya Saleh and features Ava Lalezarzadeh, Taji Senior and Jessica Toltzis, student actors from the Department of Theater at UCLA. The VR sequence is directed by Celine Tricart and Christian Stephens.

Afternoon and evening performances are scheduled for January 11 and 12.

At Sundance, Bello said she became increasingly interested in producing the project the more she learned about the Yazidi women.

“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,” Bello told Deadline in a video interview.

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