9 films and XR experiences with links to France and the Francophonie to book at SXSW Sydney from today

SXSW Sydney
Reading Time: 6 minutes

SWSX Sydney is the Australian version of the Austin festival SXSW (coming from South by Southwest). The American version of the festival has been running since 1987 and it organises “conferences and festivals that “celebrate the convergence of tech, film, music, education, and culture.” Within SXSW there is a Screen Festival, in which we’ve found 9 films and experiences with links to France and the Francophonie.

SXSW Sydney

Among them, are films about an orphaned Indigenous girl who is forced to live with her French-speaking aunty and her two gender-bending best friends; and about someone who was awarded the Charles de Gaulle prize in France for Best International Artist in 1993. Another is set in the world of online zombie-horror survival game DayZ; and there is a film which is said to be somewhere between anime homage and the Métal Hurlant tradition.


There are XR experiences inspired by the story of Cambodian genocide survivor Pin Yathay, and by Bartholdi and Eiffel’s neoclassical masterpiece The Statue of Liberty. Read on to discover these and other films and experiences.


Feature films in French from the Francophonie at SXSW Sydney Screen Festival


Language: French, English

Director: Ekiem Barbier, Guilhem Causse, Quentin L’helgoualc’h

Set in the world of online zombie-horror survival game DayZ, this forward-thinking, animated documentary explores the online and offline lives of a community of dedicated role-players in cyberspace. Recipient of the Burning Lights Competition Jury Prize and FIPRESCI Award at Visions du Réel.


Somewhere on the internet, a community of individuals simulate a survivalist fiction in a virtual 250km² space. Under the guise of avatars, a film crew traverse the mysterious, post-apocalyptic rural landscape, discovering a meeting place where friendships are formed and stories are shared as they make contact with the ‘locals’. As the locals begin to drop their masks, they reveal aspects of their offline lives, realities and relationships. Probing the outer limits of online space, Knit’s Island maps the first steps of the virtualization of our identities, and raises questions about the future of our increasingly digitised world.



Country : France

Language : French

Director : Jérémie Périn

Pitched somewhere between anime homage and the Métal Hurlant tradition, Jérémie Périn’s Mars Express is a landmark of high-concept, adult animation.


In 2200, private detective Aline Ruby and her android partner Carlos Rivera are hired by a wealthy businessman to track down a notorious hacker. On Mars, they descend deep into the underbelly of the planet’s capital city, where they uncover the pieces of a darker conspiracy: brain farms, corruption, and a missing girl who holds a secret about the robots that threatens to change the face of the universe.



Country: Canada

Language: English, French, Cree

Director: Gail Maurice

An orphaned Indigenous girl is forced to live with her reluctant, street-smart, French-speaking aunty and her two gender-bending best friends in 1980s Montreal.


A film about family, love, and misfits, Rosie tells the story of a young, orphaned, Indigenous girl who is forced to live with her reluctant, street-smart Aunty Fred (Frédérique). Rosie is thrust into the fringes of 1980s Montréal into the care of Fred, who just lost her job, is on the verge of eviction, and who looks and sounds nothing like her. Fred, an artist who creates art from found and discarded objects or other peoples’ trash, introduces Rosie to her two best friends Flo and Mo, glamorous human beings who refuse to be confined by gender. In the end, Rosie transforms the lives of these colourful characters and finds love, acceptance, and a true home with her new chosen family of glittering outsiders.


Feature films from the Francophonie that aren’t in French at the SXSW Sydney Screen Festival



Country: Canada

Language: English

Director: Madison Thomas

The first Indigenous artist to win an Oscar, Buffy Sainte-Marie is a trailblazer, who has always fought for Indigenous rights in her native Canada. She was also awarded the Charles de Gaulle prize in France for Best International Artist in 1993.


Madison Thomas’ second feature is a joyous, challenging account of this cultural icon’s lifelong commitment to music and activism. The first Indigenous person to win an Oscar (in 1983 for Best Original Song “Up Where We Belong” which she co-wrote and was featured in An Officer and a Gentleman), Buffy Sainte-Marie is a trailblazing, self-taught musician with courageous integrity. Her career was supressed because of this but, as the film’s additional interview subjects – including Alanis Obomsawin, Joni Mitchell and Robbie Robertson – would suggest, she continues to inspire the masses.


Shorts and music videos from France and the Francophonie at SXSW SYDNEY




Language: Vietnamese

Director: Le Lam Vien

A Father, a Son, and a Mind Machine.

Fix Anything screens as part of Short Visions: Future Present Perfectly Wrong




Language: English

Director Lisa Reihana

A visual collaboration between Genesis Owusu (Sudanese-Australian singer) and globally-celebrated Aotearoa (New Zealand) visual artist, Lisa Reihana. From film, to costume and body adornment, plus video installation, Reihana has rightfully earned a reputation as a world-renowned artist and producer, engaging in thought-provoking dialogues around the concept of culture.






Libertas Vanitas (2019-23) is an experimental 7-minute XR/360 video meditation on Bartholdi and Eiffel’s neoclassical masterpiece Liberty Enlightening the World otherwise known as The Statue of Liberty. We ascend through a low poly wireframe interior volume which becomes recognisable as the Statue of Liberty as we near the top of the head. An image of a figure observing the Statue of Liberty from a hotel room, within the work, is musician and composer Meredith Monk.


The Statue of Liberty was empirically, telescopically, photographically and digitally surveyed in order to directly inform the final XR project. Libertas Vanitas offers a meditation on the disjuncture of theorising and practicing (enforcing and policing) a concept as vast and expansive as ‘Liberty’ within, and beyond, the charter of liberal democracies. The project was made according to Julian Assange’s concept of ‘Scientific Journalism’. All experimental preparatory and research material is offered alongside the XR/360 video.


STAY ALIVE MY SON CHAPTER 1 & 2 (Tu vivras mon fils)

XR Showcase

Country: Greece, USA

Language: English

Director: Victoria Bousis

An epic cinematic journey based on the memoirs of Cambodian genocide survivor Pin Yathay that was a winner of the Producer’s Guild of America’s 2023 Innovation Award. Pin Yathay now lives in Paris where he works as a project engineer in the French Development Agency.


Stay Alive, My Son is an inspirational story about the unbreakable bond between a parent and child and the remarkable courage of ordinary people. Director, Victoria Bousis, uses Unreal Engine’s MetaHuman technology and game-engine animation to bring Pin Yathay and his family to life, and to transport us the into the experience of their escape from Cambodia; and into the visual experience of the landscape of lost memories, dreams and family.


And as Pin Yathay, you experience a first-person player narrative journey through his past, his demons, and his dream to be reunited with his lost son. Based on Yathay’s memoir, of the same name, this XR experience is a unique and epic book to XR adaptation that showcases the potential for emotional narrative storytelling within immersive game engine environments.





Language: English, Blackfoot

Director: Ahnahktsipiitaa (Colin Van Loon)

Niitsitapi writer and director Ahnahktsipiitaa (Colin Van Loon) transports us to a 360° world of Indigenous futurism where past, present, and future collide and our commitment to collective action is awakened.


In this stunning, cinematic VR experience, the narrative unfolds all around us, on a dream-like plane of existence where spirits and time flow and merge; stories come to life and dance before our eyes. Inside this virtual world, we leave colonial rules and assumptions behind and two Indigenous trickster poets guide us on a journey to uncover the truth, and confront our notions of personal and collective responsibility in a place where the past, present, future are one.



WHAT: SXSW Sydney 2023

WHERE: Various cinemas in Sydney and International Convention and Exhibition Centre

WHEN: The Screen Festival takes place from October 15 to 21.

HOW: To access the entirety of the screen festival (and the XR experiences), you can buy a SXSW Sydney Screen Wristband via this link. https://credentials.sxswsydney.com/shows/Show.aspx?sh=SXSWSWB23

To purchase tickets to individual films, you can do so via this link https://credentials.sxswsydney.com/shows/show.aspx?sh=SXSWRUSH23


SXSW Sydney Screen Wristband $280

Rush tickets (single event entry) $25


Which films and experiences would you like to see at SXSW Sydney?


For more events with links to the France and the Francophonie happening in Australia this month, check out our What’s on in October.



Enter your email to subscribe to new article notifications about all things French and francophone in Australia

Related Posts

Matilda Marseillaise

Discover more from Matilda Marseillaise

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading