Private Project

The Journey

360 documentary experience 'The Journey' traces the journey through childhood in 3 of the toughest environments on Earth.

Meet 3-year-old Amina in the distant 'Afar' region of Ethiopia, trying to find enough food and water to survive during the worst drought in 30 years; 10-year-old Changkouth, living in conflict-ridden South Sudan, trying to get an education and avoid being recruited as a child soldier, in the country with the highest proportion of out-of-school children in the world; and 18-year-old Mani in Chad - ostracized by her community because she is living with HIV, but determined to change minds and using social media to rally support.

  • Charlotte Mikkelborg
    Born into Exile (2016)
  • Ignacio Ferrando Margeli
    Ride to Space (Nat Geo 2017), 360 Mountain Rescue (Nat Geo 2017), Born into Exile (2016), Growing a World Wonder (2015)
  • Axel Drioli
    Immersive Audio Producer
    Eridanus, the 3D Audio Movie (2017)
  • Jonny Lawrence
    Jungle Book (2016), Felix Don't You Want Me (2015), Maker versus Marker (2013)
  • Marco Caricola
    Original score by
    Limbo (2017), My Henry (2016), Raw (2014)
  • Javier Moreno
    Stitch, VFX and editor
    Long Road Home (Nat Geo, 2017), Ride to Space (2017), Born into Exile (2016)
  • Project Type:
    Animation, Documentary
  • Genres:
    Documentary, 360, VR, Animation
  • Runtime:
    10 minutes 23 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 24, 2018
  • Production Budget:
    78,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    Chad, Ethiopia, South Sudan
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Stereoscopic 360
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • SXSW 2018
    Austin, Texas
    United States
    March 13, 2018
    World Premiere
    VR Cinema
  • Berlinale 2018
    Berlin, Germany
    February 16, 2018
    Work-in-progress screening
    Africa Hub
  • Seattle Film Festival 2018
    United States
    May 17, 2018
    US West Coast Premier
  • Cine Golden Eagle Awards
    New York
    United States
    Best VR short 2018
  • Encounters Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    September 20, 2020
  • Sheffield Docfest
    United Kingdom
    June 22, 2020
    UK Premier
    Alternate Realities
Director Biography - Charlotte Mikkelborg

Lauded by Vice as one of the “female filmmakers revolutionizing how we see the world”, Charlotte Mikkelborg is a British director - who first gained recognition as a BBC foreign correspondent - and has more recently become known for her work directing gripping character-driven non fiction film and virtual reality. Charlotte’s work packs an emotional punch with the aim of driving social change. Her debut 360 documentary Born into Exile - the harrowing yet hopeful story of two pregnant Syrian refugees – screened in the US Houses of Congress and at the first UN Special Summit on Refugees, leading to the commitment of funds to helping alleviate the plight of Syrian refuges, and a finalist in the 2017 Cine Golden Eagle Awards.

Charlotte’s work continues to explore how we can harness fast developing interactive technology for more emotionally resonant storytelling.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

To reach the home of the first character in our film, 3-year-old Amina, we travelled for over 15 hours, but may as well have travelled back in time 1000 years. Amina is from the Afari tribe, who live in small igloo-shaped huts – covered in reed matting and animal skin, in the Ethiopian drylands. They grind their grain between two stones by hand, and cook in a stone oven in the ground. There is no school for the children and the nearest hospital is 150km away, hence unreachable if you don’t have a method of transport. And, yet, they manage to survive much as they have done for centuries, with their own culture and customs largely in tact due to the isolation. But, right now, their survival is being threatened, just as it was during the Ethiopian famine of the 1980s, as the last 3 years have seen the worst drought in 30 years. Amina became severely malnourished until a mobile health clinic run by a local NGO turned up to help address malnutrition and offer vaccines to children in the community.

Our Journey through childhood in 3 of the toughest environments on earth began with Amina and we wanted audiences to feel like they were physically being taken on Amina’s daily journey, walking shoeless through this inhospitable, sweltering moonscape, with her mother and baby brother, to reach water. We used slow movement in the piece to feel like we were following along after her, being led by her. I also decided that I wanted to match the camera’s height to that of the children who were telling their stories – so that audiences weren’t going to be adults looking down on the children but rather were seeing the world from their perspective or the perspective of a friend.

While the experience is a physical journey, it is also a journey through time and place, as our three main characters are different ages, living in 3 distinct places, and with varied histories and futures. So, we used animation to illustrate the children’s memories, their hopes and dreams, but also to transition from one child’s story to the next as 3-year-old Amina grew into 10-year-old Changkouth from South Sudan – a shy, smiley, bookworm – who was doing really well in school despite having missed several years due to the conflict. And then, as Changkouth’s story ended and we were introduced to 19-year-old Mani from Chad. Mani’s was an incredible story to end on as – despite losing both her parents to HIV and suffering stigmatisation for being HIV positive herself – Mani refused to be put in a box. Instead, she is fighting to bring a change in attitudes towards HIV in her community, talking to anyone who will listen and reaching out on social media to young people all over Chad and even overseas.

Read more from the director about this project in the following blog posts.