Ferenj: A Graphic Memoir in VR

Ferenj is a pointcloud dreamscape generated using crowdsourced data and built using gaming technology. In this immersive graphic memoir, “home” is experienced as a post-spatial non-space of history, language, culture, music and time as you drift through reconstructed memories from Empress Taytu Ethiopian Restaurant in Cleveland to the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This afrosurrealist world is an experimental form of emancipatory thought and resistance to othering, reclaiming Ethiopian-American mixed-race identity, redefining boundaries between fragmented nostalgia and the digital imaginary, and contributing to the movement to change the reductive and stereotypical narrative of Africa.

Programming descriptions are generated by participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SXSW.


Ainslee Alem Robson




Director: Ainslee Alem Robson
Producer: Liam Young
Screenwriter: Ainslee Alem Robson
Editor: Ainslee Alem Robson
Sound Designer: Ainslee Alem Robson
Music: Kibrom Birhane
Principal Cast: Ainslee Alem Robson, Melkamayehu Belachew, Laure Michelon, Kate Stuteville, Spencer Daly, Cole Daly, Kevin McMahon, Carl Robson, Senait Robson
Additional Credits: Graphics: Ainslee Alem Robson, Art Assistance: Kidus Hailesilassie, Technical Assistance: Alexey Marfin, Tobias Heinemann, Memo Akten, Script Consultants: Parisa Ahmadi, Jan Padios, Nebiyat Demissie, Marisa Adame, Chelsea Frey, Ngozi Monica Cole, Crowdsourced Visual, Sound Archive Contributers: Senait Robson, Sofonias Solomon, Wilbur Kosart, Anwar Kedir, Nahom T. Haile, Carl A. Robson, Motion Capture Performer, Traditional Ethiopian Instrument Recording: Kibrom Birhane, Voiceover Recording: Husky Höskulds, Sound Effects Editor, Dialogue Editor: Cameron Selan, Models: Melkamayehu Belachew, Tewabech Belachew, Betelhem Shiferaw, Senait Robson


Public Film Contact
Ainslee Alem Robson

Publicity Contact
Jessica McCormack
Primary Entry: Platinum Badge, Film Badge
Secondary Entry: Music Badge, Interactive Badge, Film Festival Wristband

Year: 2020
Premiere Status: World Premiere
Genre: Animated, Documentary, Experimental, History, Hybrid
Screening in: Virtual Cinema Program
Screening Section: Virtual Cinema Competition
Screening Category: Virtual Reality
Country: Ethiopia, United States
Language: English, Amharic
Runtime: 8 mins