‘Baba Yaga’: Kate Winslet, Jennifer Hudson & Glenn Close Join Daisy Ridley In Venice-Bound VR Film From ‘Madagascar’ Director

Kate Winslet, Jennifer Hudson and Glenn Close have joined previously announced lead Daisy Ridley in the voice cast of Venice Film Festival-bound VR project Baba Yaga.

Hudson is an executive-producer on the immersive short film set in a haunting fairytale world where viewers can decide the direction of the story. The experience follows enigmatic witch Baba Yaga (Winslet) who uses her powers to stop the villagers whose settlement encroaches upon her enchanted Forest (Hudson). When the viewer’s mother, the Chief (Close), falls ill, it is up to them and their sister Magda (Ridley) to enter the forbidden rainforest, uncover its hidden mysteries and get the cure from Baba Yaga.

Directed and written by Baobab Studios co-founder Eric Darnell (Madagascar franchise), and co-directed by Mathias Chelebourg, the experience is a contemporary portrayal of the Eastern European folk story re-imagined with illustrative 2D pop-up animation and hand-drawn and stop-motion styles.

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The project will be available exclusively on Oculus Quest later this year. In Venice, where the project becomes the starriest at the festival, the short will be accessible online to accredited viewers via a digital platform that enjoys the support of Facebook’s Oculus, VRChat, and VRrOOm. It can also be viewed in-person in the VR lounges of a string of cultural institutions around the world.

Baba Yaga is a beautiful work of animation and I was honored to be an executive producer alongside my talented collaborators at Baobab Studios,” said Hudson. “While the story is rooted in classic folklore, we were inspired to bring it into modern light by focusing on environmental themes and strong female characters, themes the world needs to explore now more than ever. It was my pleasure to be part of the strong female cast alongside Daisy, Kate, and Glenn.”

“Creating Baba Yaga during a pandemic was especially challenging and we are grateful to Kate, Daisy, Glenn, and Jennifer for traveling with us on this unusual journey,” said Eric Darnell, the film’s director and Baobab Studios co-founder. “Each of them rose to this unique occasion with tremendous energy and passion in creating their characters and I’m proud of what we accomplished together. It is validating to have our work recognized by the Venice Film Festival and we look forward to sharing the experience with VR audiences around the globe.”

Executive producers are Hudson, Maureen Fan, Larry Cutler, and Kane Lee.

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