Last Whispers

    • Lena Herzog
    • United States
    • 2018
    • 7 min
    • Immersive, Interactive
    • Dutch Premiere
    • DocLab Domesticating Reality, IDFA DocLab Spotlight, DocLab Program

    At the start of the 21st century, about 7,000 different languages were spoken in the world. Nevertheless, the areas in which languages are used are often small, and as communities disintegrate, they shrink even further. Cultural assimilation leads to a language shift, whereby indigenous languages are supplanted by a lingua franca such as English or Spanish. An estimated 90 percent of the languages that are currently used will be extinct by around 2050.

    Last Whispers is a monument to languages that leave nothing but silence once the last speaker has died. It’s a journey across a virtual globe, constructed from satellite images of the natural disasters that are a common reason for migration and the disappearance of native languages. Along the way, we pay visits to speakers of endangered and extinct languages. The sound clips are from specialized archives from all over the world. In this three-dimensional VR production, they come to life as they rise slowly from the virtual landscape and draw nearer to immerse us. For a moment we become one with the language, until it ultimately dissolves meaningfully into white light.


    • 7 min
    • Spoken languages: English
    Lena Herzog
    Lena Herzog for Last Whispers 501(c), Nonny de la Peña for Emblematic Group
    Key collaborator
    Mark Mangini, Marco Capablo, Amanda Tasse, Jonathan Yomayuza, Cedric Gamelin, Meghan McWilliams, Mario Kenyon, Mandana Seyfeddinipur, Marilyn Simons
    Executive producer
    Meghan McWilliams, Cedric Gamelin
    Mario Kenyon

    IDFA history

    Dutch Premiere
    DocLab Domesticating Reality
    IDFA DocLab Spotlight
    DocLab Program

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    IDFA history

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