When Juris Kulakovs founded the Latvian band Pērkons in the early 80s, all he had was a two-kilowatt sound system, a few good songs and a powerful idea: live the truth in an untrue time. He had no idea what power he was about to unleash. Pērkons was banned twice.
Their fans were put on trial. The communist party leadership tried to force Juris into exile. But the harder the Soviet regime tried to silence the band, the more powerful their music became. In the late 80s, Pērkons’ music became the soundtrack to a revolution in Latvia.
Fallon Creative Technologist and Director of Pērkons: A VR Rockumentary, Cory McLeod, believes their story and message of ‘living the truth in an untrue time’ is just as relevant today as it was 35 years ago in the Soviet Union.
“In the current political climate, many people wonder what’s the point of starting a band, writing and making art that will just get swallowed up by a sea of falsehoods. Pērkons’ story serves as a playbook for how music can speak truth to power and instigate meaningful social change.”
Creativity – often used as a force to create impactful and sustainable change – is evident through the film’s music, as well as the custom HTC and Oculus experience itself. Pērkons is a story laden with pre-internet virality, underground information sharing and cobbled electronics from found parts, now brought to life through an immersive, virtual experience.
The Wende Museum of the Cold War will premiere Pērkons: A VR Rockumentary, an immersive film exhibition next Sunday, February 23 from 2-5 pm PST. The virtual reality (VR) short film, backed by Fallon, shares the untold story of Pērkons, the Latvian rock band that used a unique blend of hard rock and subversive lyrics to change the course of history – shattering Soviet society’s façade of power and stability in 1980s Latvia.
The HTC and Oculus experience features pioneering VR technique, found footage and archival photography.
“We are thrilled to work with Fallon on this special project, that so powerfully aligns with the museum’s mission to connect the past and the present in meaningful ways,” said Joes Segal, chief curator and director of programming at the Wende Museum.
The film was made possible thanks to assistance from the American Latvian Association Culture Fund and support from the Juris Podnieks Studio, the US Embassy in Riga, the American Latvian Association Cultural Fund, LMT and the Latvian State Archive of Audio Visual Documents. More than 20 Fallon employees worked together to bring this film to life.
“With burning hearts, we’ve always believed in the power of rock and roll and passionately participated in the freedom movement and the liberation of people’s minds,” said Ieva Akuratere, lead singer in Pērkons. “It’s amazing that these qualities of humanity can transcend physical and mental borders and all of us in Pērkons are very thankful to the filmmakers for the humanity-laden care they invested in reflecting Latvia’s fateful past.”
Pērkons: A VR Rockumentary will be showcased at The Wende throughout 2020.