Filipino-American and Emmy Award-Winning XR Director Michaela Ternasky-Holland made her South by Southwest (SXSW) Sydney debut with the showcase of her virtual reality animation series Reimagined Vol. II : Mahal at the International Convention Centre.
SXSW is an iconic annual culture, music, film and technology conference being held at Austin, Texas since 1987. Sydney has become the first-ever host city of SXSW event outside of Texas. SXSW Sydney was a week-long event from the 15th of October that offered an in-depth experience for creatives from musical performances, gaming competitions, industry head talks and emerging film screenings. It was a music festival, next-gen expo, futurist think tank, a showcase of the latest media forms in games, film and TV world premieres that were presented and held at various locations in Sydney’s CBD.
Reimagined Vol. II: Mahal was inspired by Philippine mythology and Holland’s own grief of losing her father who died in a car accident when she was very young. This 19-minute story focuses on Apolaki, Mayari, Tala, and Hanan, the four immortal children of the recently passed creator god, Bathala. Each one battles his or her own emotional isolation in order to save the world from a peril caused by their pain.
Mahal is a part of an anthology series and is the second instalment. Its purpose is to reimagine folklore, mythology and fairy tales from different cultures and backgrounds for today’s audience using virtual reality as a medium. This project was funded by Meta as it used Quill as a platform. This project was also equally female-produced, -directed and -written project. The first and third instalments were directed by Julie Cavalier and guest director Melissa Joiner, respectively.
“Mahal allowed me to explore my Filipino heritage. I am grateful to be able to blend both my Filipino culture and personal family story to create a personal project like Mahal. I am grateful to be able to use my creative expression to help me process both positive and negative things that happened in my life. For those who are struggling, think about your relationship with yourself. Once that starts to get stronger, then you can have a better relationship with your work, family and who you want to be. Everyone has their own powerful creative force whether it would be being creative in science or technology. Everyone deserves to have one’s voice heard and to feel that they are a part of something one wishes to be a part of.”, Holland explained.
After SXSW, Mahal will be have its premiere in exclusive festival circuits in the Philippines, Japan and Los Angeles. By the end of 2023, Mahal will also be available for free to anyone who owns any type of Meta Quest headset.