This free virtual reality film features young Muslim women skateboarders, challenging real-world prejudice
Storm Riders, an immersive, 360-degree virtual reality film is, in part, a re-envisioning of artist, filmmaker, virtual reality proponent and former pro skateboarder Shaun Gladwell's earlier video artwork Storm Sequence (2000). That work saw him skateboarding down on Bondi Beach – this time he's placed two young Muslim women from London at its heart: Chadnee Shah and Farhana Hussain. Previously screened as part of a VR program Gladwell curated for the Sydney Film Festival, you can experience it at Melbourne’s ACMI through October, with a headset-free version available on the SBS VR app.
An engrossing, immersive look at life in both cities, the 30-minute film is about way more than just updating Gladwell’s work. VR has come a long way from the military tech Gladwell encountered while Australia’s official war artist in Afghanistan in 2009, a role art schoolmate Ben Quilty also took on. The cameras used aren’t much bigger than a ping-pong ball, so it was really easy for Shah and Hussain to document their skateboarding and show Gladwell round their neighbourhood. “It’s this tiny little thing and it’s very unassuming, unintimidating, and Chadnee and Farhana both started to use it as a diary,” he says.