The Dolby Family Sound Fellowship, an initiative of the Dolby Institute, was created last year for movies that showcase an innovative use of sound in storytelling. This fellowship offers filmmakers a variety of resources, from studio space, to mentorship from industry experts, to cold hard cash (up to $75,000) — all in order to ensure that the film’s sound is as good as is humanly possible.
The selection process was moderated by the Sundance Institute and the Dolby Institute, who both chose “Last Days in the Desert” for its “complex canvas and nuanced characters.” The film itself follows the story of Jesus (played by Ewan McGregor), as he fasts and prays for 40 days in the desert. As he does so, he grapples with the devil (who is, in an interesting twist, also played by McGregor) over the fate of an ordinary family, in what becomes “a dramatic test for himself.”
In a statement, David Dolby expressed excitement over the film’s innovative use of the Dolby Atmos system saying, “The production team did a great job capturing the on-site soundscape of the desert. This attention to detail gives the film the most realistic source materials to mix using Dolby Atmos technology.”
Garcia added “I am ecstatic and very grateful that Dolby has chosen to support us. I’ve never made a film where the physical environment was so important to the story, so the Dolby Atmos mix will make a huge difference creatively.”
“Last Days in the Desert” will have its world premiere at the Eccles Theatre at Park City High School in Utah on January 25th as part of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. The Dolby Instutute will also be hosting a panel (“‘Last Days in the Desert:’ The Art of Sound Design and Music”) on January 27th, which will be moderated by Glenn Kiser, director of the Dolby Institute, and will feature director/writer Garcia, as well as the film’s composers, sound designers and mixers.