EL BEAT is a cross-platform narrative consisting of a VR experience, an interactive film and an immersive installation.It unfolds the story of Benkos Biohó, enslaved African and founder of the first
free town in the colonial Americas, and the story of his descendants, the people of Palenque. It is a tribute to the African
diaspora and the Black Power of Latin America.

  • Irene Lema
    The Blue Pond
  • Carolina del Mar Fernández
  • Sergio Bromberg
  • Irene Lema
  • Irene Lema
  • Tatiana Villacob
  • Consuelo Castillo
  • Rafael Ospino
  • Andris Padilla
    Key Cast
    "Benkos (young)"
  • Abel Cassiani
    Key Cast
    "Benkos (mature)"
  • Rafael Cassiani
    Key Cast
    "Rafael Cassiani"
  • José Reyes
    Key Cast
  • Mauricio Reyes
    Key Collaborators
  • Diego Barajas
    Key Collaborators
  • Miguel Vargas
    Key Collaborators
  • Diego Rodríguez
    Key Collaborators
  • Paloma Florez
    Key Collaborators
  • Laura Díaz
    Key Collaborators
  • Alí Navarro Salas
    Key Collaborators
  • Project Title (Original Language):
  • Project Type:
    Virtual Reality, Installation, Interactive Film
  • Genres:
    musical, documentary, historical
  • Runtime:
    45 minutes 9 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 31, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    65,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Language:
    Other, Spanish
  • Student Project:
  • SXSW
    Austin, Texas
    United States
    March 12, 2023
    World Premiere, VR
    Official XR Competition
    Cartagena de Indias
    March 14, 2022
    World Premiere, FIlm
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Irene Lema, Carolina del Mar Fernández, Sergio Bromberg

Irene Lema - Director
Documentary filmmaker and XR creator. Her work has been premiered in festivals like FICCI in Latin America and SXSW in the USA, while she has been trained in spaces like the NewFrontier talent Forum in Sundance and the IDFAcademy in Europe. She has been a grantee of the Sundance Institute Interdisciplinary Program and the NewMedia program (Proimagenes Colombia/Canada Media Fund) among others. She also has been winner of the documentary and the transmedia creation award of the Colombian Film Fund.

Sergio Bromberg - Immersive media co-director
Sergio is a physicist, creative coder and VR technologist with an MSc in Music Technology (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona). In recent years he has worked as technology director and programmer of several projects in the interface between art and science. As aVR technologist, he participated in Scarecrow (Sundance, 2020), Sim The Blind (BIFAN, 2020), RainFruits (Cannes, Tribeca, 2020), and he recently co directed El Beat VR (SXSW, 2023). Sergio currently works as a Deep Learning Engineer specialized in 3D reconstruction for the Korean startup Recon Labs.

Carolina del Mar Fernández - Documentary co-director
Carolina is a documentary filmmaker and sound recordist. Her project ‘Las Gaitas en la Nevera’ shows musicians from the Colombian capital in their search for identity - New Creators FICCI 2005 selection. She has worked with traditional music and new Colombian music looking for ways to communicate the legacies that have survived from ancient times. She also has extensive experience in direct sound, being one of the first women to work in this field in Colombia, and she is currently part of the Colombian Association of Cinematographic Sound (ADSC). As a sound recordist, she has been recognized on several occasions, including the 2016 Macondo Awards nomination for best sound for the film ‘Violence’ by Jorge Forero.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

EL BEAT was born from the necessity to understand Latin American identity as an elaborate miscegenation, as a clash of cultures that is also a fundamental engine in the evolution of music globally. It began as a musical documentary but ended up as a tribute to African diaspora in Latin America.

The multiplatform experience consists of an interactive short, a VR experience and an immersive installation.The VR experience narrates the beginning of the African diaspora in Latin America. It is a journey from the coast of Senegal to the foundation of the town of Palenque, through a fantasized representation of the characters and their gods, executed using volumetric capture, VFX, 3D modeling, tilt brush and ambisonic sound in a 6doF VR experience. The interactive film has been conceived as a two-sided album: SIDE A is the fictionalized story of Benkos Bioho -the enslaved African and rebel leader-, while SIDE B is a documentary, narrating the history of Benkos' descendants, using music and language as a symbol of resistance. These two stories have ‘narrative bridges’ to be crossed at certain moments of the story.
The immersive installation allows the user to interact with this world through the ‘marímbula’, an instrument of African origin that arrived in Colombia through Cuban workers in 1920.