During this year’s 18th annual Tribeca Film Festival audiences will have a chance to step onto the world’s largest charity hospital ship through an innovative new virtual cinema experience.
The film “Mercy” made its world premiere at South by Southwest® (SXSW®) earlier this year. The film features the international nonprofit Mercy Ships and was produced through Oculus VR for Good Creators Lab program which pairs rising filmmakers with nonprofits.
“Virtual reality is the best way to experience another person’s story,” film director Armando Kirwin said. “We’re very proud of this project and look forward to transporting the audience into Edith’s world.”
Kirwin’s latest project, “Mercy,” tells the story of Edith, a 14-year-old girl from Cameroon who developed a lemon-sized tumor on her jaw. The film follows Edith as she travels by foot from her village to the hospital ship Africa Mercy, where Mercy Ships volunteers provided her with life-changing surgery. The immersive, virtual reality experience gives viewers a firsthand look at Edith’s journey of hope and healing.
“It’s our hope that this film will spread the story of Mercy Ships to more people,” said Dr. Gary Parker, the surgeon who operated on Edith and who serves as the Africa Mercy’s chief medical officer. “This technology places the viewer side by side with Edith as she goes through this journey. It makes you realize how easily it could have been you or me instead of Edith, and that’s a powerful message.”
Edith is only one of the millions of people Mercy Ships has touched in its 40-year history. Worldwide, five billion people like Edith lack access to safe, affordable, and timely surgery. Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to bring volunteer medical professionals directly to the places they’re needed most, where they provide life-changing surgeries and other medical care. Since 1978, Mercy Ships has directly impacted more than 2.7 million people.