Canadian Premiere


Passive Spherical Video


Directed by:

Rossella Schillaci




15m 0s


Surfacing is a VR creative documentary fairy-tale. The viewer is immersed in the everyday life of mothers and kids living in special places: prisons and custody institutions for inmates with their children. 360° footage at children’s eye level embarks us on a magical journey from the iconic Panopticon system of control to the most recent soft custody institutions.

Like the hero’s journey, the protagonists tell us – in a deep and poetic way- their first impressions of the prison, the smells, the fears, the challenges. Their perception of prison as a submerged world is mirrored by illustrations (made in collaboration with mothers and children) depicting their past memories and their dreams for the future. Animations enhance this ‘weird reality’ using the metaphor of an underwater world where animated animals are free to move and breathe. They tell a tale of pain but also resilience and hope emerging from confinement places.

Director Bio:

Rossella Schillaci Rossella Schillaci is a filmmaker and directed several documentary films broadcast at ARTE, RAI, Sky, and Al Jazeera.

After graduating from Manchester in visual anthropology and documentary direction, she has made several documentary films as an author and director, awarded at various international festivals. Among her latest films, “Les enfants en prison” was co-produced and broadcast by French television Arte and won the Etoile de la Scam, an award given to the best documentary films broadcast in France; Free Women was distributed by Lab 80 in more than 300 Italian cinemas.

She has recently been developing some virtual reality doc film projects and completing a Ph.D. in Digital Media, working in an international research program involving Italian, Portuguese, and Texan universities. She teaches visual anthropology and documentary storytelling in European university seminars.