The Washington Post will debut a virtual reality adaptation of a story following a first-grader’s journey of trauma and loss after a school shooting at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival presented by AT&T, from April 26 – May 4. The eight-minute animated film, illustrated by award-winning animator Wesley Allsbrook, is based on reporting by John Woodrow Cox, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2018.

“The story is so powerful emotionally, and this presentation makes it even more compelling,” said Lynda Robinson, an enterprise editor at The Washington Post. “When users are fully surrounded by the virtual environment, they feel the story and experience the child’s emotion in ways they never could in text alone.”

“12 seconds of gunfire: The true story of a school shooting,” directed by Post design editor Suzette Moyer and senior developer Seth Blanchard, is based on an original script by Cox and animation by Allsbrook. The illustrations take viewers into the world of 7-year-old Ava Olsen from the moment she arrives at Townville Elementary School on the day of the shooting in 2016 to the moment she writes President Donald Trump a letter, pleading with him to keep children safe from guns. Throughout the film, users are guided through Ava’s rural South Carolina community with visual cues and audio narration.

“We are continuously experimenting with new ways to bring stories to life for our readers,” said Jeremy Gilbert, director of strategic initiatives at The Post. “Virtual reality completely divorces the user from their reality and engulfs them in any given story. With the advancements made to this technology, there are now far more users who will be able to experience this type of storytelling.”

Tickets to the Festival will go on sale March 26 and session details to view the experience will be available at The experience will also be widely available as a 360-video for desktop and mobile and available on all VR headsets like the Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, Google Daydream, Samsung Gear VR and HTC Vive. Users can be alerted once the experience is available online by visiting

This is The Post’s second venture into virtual reality after a 2016 experience that took users on an interactive journey through Mars.

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