Maharajas Children

FIVARS 2023: Spotlight on Maharaja’s Children: A Brave Bunch in India

Tomasz Stankiewicz Maharaja’s Children: A Brave Bunch in India is the unlikely story of Indian Maharaja saving 1000 Polish children during WWII. FIVARS had a chance to speak with director Tomasz Stankiewicz.

What led to the creation of this piece?

One of our team members showed us a book on Polish refugees during WWII. It was such an uplifting and universal story that we decided to turn it into our next documentary for children and young audiences.

What was the production process for you and your team? What did you learn?

It was a great adventure until COVID struck. As a result, key team members ended up in different parts of Europe. Completing the project became highly challenging. I am glad we did because only a little later, it became very relevant when Russia attacked Ukraine.

What I learned was to never give up despite serious setbacks. Everything is possible 🙂 However, I wish I had formal agreements with key team members. It is crucial towards the end of the project. I was stating obligations and responsibilities. In terms of the immersive form, I love it and plan to explore it further in the future.

Maharajas Children

How did you become an immersive media content creator and why?

I had no experience in immersive media, but our team made a conscious choice to use this form. We figured there was no other way to tell how Maharaja Jam Saheb welcomed 1000 Polish orphans at a Camp built on his summer estate. The factors we considered were: Financial constraints. Distance. Unavailability of the original structures. Our target audience – young viewers.

What is the VR/AR industry like in your region?

There are some tremendous Polish productions, both commercial and educational/historical, as far as I know. However, getting funding for interactive documentaries is very difficult. The Polish Film Institute does not support this form at this time. It may be different from other immersive forms.

Maharajas Children

What do you have planned for the future?

I am working on translating the Maharaja’s Children webdoc into original Indian languages to present it to student and adult audiences in India. However, I am primarily an author of historical fiction/nonfiction for children and teenagers, so I plan to create comic books. Later, they could easily be turned into immersive projects.

Do you think VR festivals like FIVARS are important?

They provide a great opportunity to reflect on your work and admire other creators’ works worldwide. They are a great opportunity to learn.

Maharaja’s Children: A Brave Bunch in India at FIVARS 2023 runs in person September 15-19th in Toronto and online through October 3rd.

Maharajas Children