/News 27.01.21


New South Wales-made feature documentary Playing with Sharks and virtual reality animation Prison X – Chapter 1: The Devil & The Sun have been selected as part of Sundance Film Festival’s 2021 line-up, taking place online from 28 January to 3 February 2021.

Playing with Sharks

Playing with Sharks, the feature documentary from Emmy-nominated, award-winning director Sally Aitken and producer Bettina Dalton, will screen at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival in the World Cinema Documentary Competition section. In a world premiere, the WildBear Entertainment production is one of only nine films from around the globe to be chosen for this prestigious and highly competitive section. 

The powerful and visually sumptuous 90-minute feature documentary centres around Valerie Taylor, living legend and icon in the underwater world. A glamorous and lethal spearfishing hunter in the 1950s, Valerie is a champion slayer with ruthless aim. Long before anyone else, she and her husband Ron dared to get close to sharks, even filming the real sharks for Spielberg’s Jaws. But a personal epiphany transformed her into a passionate marine conservationist – at a time when the word conservation was barely understood – to try and change perceptions. Valerie famously donned a chainmail suit, making herself into shark bait to prove sharks are not out to get us. In doing so, she changed our scientific understanding of sharks forever. 

Playing with Sharks is Valerie’s incredible true story, from hunter to protector, putting herself on the front line for sharks for over 70 years.

Ausfilm members Big Bang Sound provided Sound Design. 

Screen Australia provided principal production investment in association with Screen NSW. Madman Entertainment is the Australia/NZ distributor with TDog (Dogwoof) handling international sales. 

© Ron and Valerie Taylor. Still from Playing with Sharks, Wildbear Entertainment

Prison X – The Devil & The Sun 

Directed and produced by Violeta Ayala, with producers Dan Fallshaw and Roly Elias, Prison X – The Devil & The Sun will make its world premiere in the New Frontier section at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

Quechua filmmaker Violeta Ayala grew up three blocks from Bolivia’s San Sebastian Prison and wanted to share the world and the stories of the prisoners. Following her award-winning documentary Cocaine Prison (TIFF 2017 selection), she decided to use VR as the medium to take the stories further. 

Prison X sweeps you into an infamous Bolivian jail, where you live among devils, saints, wicked characters, corrupt prison guards and even a Western filmmaker. In the film you will inhabit the dreams and nightmares of the Neo-Andean underworld. Prison X was created by female Andean artists and POC programmers, illustrators and technologists.

Screen Australia, Screen NSW, Sundance Film Institute, MIT ODL and CPH LAB provided funding and support. 

Still from Prison X – Chapter 1: The Devil & The Sun. Courtesy United Notions Film 

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