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'Gran Turismo' pays tribute to Senna with 'Ayrton's Wish'

Fri, 02 May 2014

Back in October, "Gran Turismo" announced a partnership with the Ayrton Senna Institute. We're finally starting to see the fruits of that labor -- a Senna-edition Playstation 3 bundle in Brazil notwithstanding. The first element of a month-long tribute from publisher Polyphony Digital is the above 20-minute film, "Ayrton's Wish."

Two months before Imola, Ayrton told his sister Viviane that he wanted to give back to the country that so idolized him. "Despite his wealth, he knew something had to be done to close this gap between rich and poor," she said. Ayrton had discreetly funded charities with his Formula One wealth, but he wanted something more formal, something in a better position to make an impact. "He asked me to plan some organization that would help children have a better future.

"This was two months before Imola. I began to work on a structure -- but we did not have the opportunity to talk again."

Viviane founded the Ayrton Senna Institute shortly after the fatal San Marino Grand Prix. The goal of the nonprofit remains getting children a good education --- according to its website, it trains more than 75,000 teachers and managers a year, who then go on to improve the lives of 2 million children. It has "saved millions of children from sliding into the oblivion of drugs, crime and life on the streets," The Telegraph reported in 2008. The money it uses to help Brazil's children -- $76 million over the past 20 years -- comes, simply enough, from licensing Ayrton's image.

Tamir Moscivici directed the film. The last time he worked with the "Gran Turismo" folks, he made "KAZ: Pushing the Virtual Divide," which netted him a Best Long Format Featuring Promotional Content award at the 2014 Game Marketing Awards. Playstation approached Moscivici about the partnership with the Institute while he was wrapping up "KAZ," and he became vested in the Institute's efforts. "I didn't realize how embedded the Institute is into the education system. Without Senna these kids would be lost," he said.

On May 12, the "Ayrton Senna Tribute" will debut the first of a two-part slideshow following Senna's early career; the second part will delve into his ride with Honda and will be released May 19. Both will downloadable for free via Playstation.

But by the end of the month, Polyphony promises that there will be actual racing content for fans to play. Will we be able to chase down Prost at Monaco? Or Australia? Or Donington Park? Will we be able to replicate his passing six cars on the first lap of the 1988 Japanese Grand Prix? After all, if we're going to try to drive like Senna, "Gran Turismo" had better step up its rain effects.

"One of the most rewarding parts of the process was getting a note from Bianca Senna," said Moscivici. "Knowing that the family was happy with the film was amazing."

By Blake Z. Rong