2018

SBS’s Untold Australia VR immerses audiences at the heart of Torres Strait Islander stories

26 March 2018

News Release


SBS’s Digital Creative Labs have today released the final Untold Australia VR (virtual reality) immersive experiences, Every King Tide and A Thin Black Line, which bring to life two diverse Torres Strait Islander stories.

Every King Tide explores the community of Poruma, who are at risk of losing their homes and livelihoods, as well as their connection to history, country and culture. The VR documentary takes audiences on a journey to meet the residents of this tiny island in the Torres Strait, which is slowly being eroded and swallowed by the sea. Despite the challenges faced by the 200 individuals who call Poruma home, Every King Tide, produced by Bunya Productions (Sweet Country), gives audiences a first person perspective of this community’s spirit, faith and passion for the island they call home.

A Thin Black Line, directed by ATOM award-winner Douglas Watkin, follows the story of Watkin’s own mother, who as a young girl was forced to evacuate during the 1942 Darwin bombings. With direction from Oscar Raby, founder of award-winning reality studio, VRTOV and illustrated by acclaimed Aboriginal artist Vernon Ah Kee, this 360° evolving story paints a picture of Patima’s family life and experiences during Australia’s worst air attack of World War II.

SBS Director of Television and Online Content, Marshall Heald, said: “SBS’s Untold Australia VR explores the theme of displacement, with Every King Tide and A Thin Black Line joining the already released Inside Manus documentary. The series seeks to use immersive technology to place audiences at the heart of diverse experiences, with the aim of creating a deeper understanding of important, but often untold stories.”

Every King Tide is now available to experience via the SBS VR app, while A Thin Black Line can be enjoyed using Samsung Gear VR. The two new projects complete the Untold Australia VR series, joining Inside Manus, which gives Australians an insight into life on Manus Island through the personal experiences of three detainees – Abdul Aziz Muhamat from Sudan, Imran Mohammad from Myanmar (Burma), and Amir Taghinia from Iran.

Untold Australia VR is co-funded by Screen Queensland, as part of SBS and Screen Queensland’s commitment to provide increased opportunities for Queensland-based filmmakers and creatives.

Screen Queensland CEO, Tracey Vieira said: “We were thrilled to partner with SBS on Untold Australia VR, as we remain committed to growing our local industry and creating opportunities for them to learn new skills and unearth new and diverse voices in the VR space.

“We believe that Queensland practitioners are leaders in innovation and adopting new platforms and congratulate Douglas Watkin for A Thin Black Line and Bunya Productions for Every King Tide. VR is truly a powerful platform to tell these stories, evoking a sense of empathy in the audience that can be life changing.”

The SBS VR app can be downloaded from the Oculus Store for Samsung Gear VR, and from the App Store for iOS and Google Play for Android using a smartphone VR headset.

Audiences can learn more about the Untold Australia VR series at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) through an exhibition at the ACMI VR Lounge until 3 June 2018.