World premiere of Oculus virtual reality film “Mercy” transports viewers to the Africa Mercy

12 March 2019

Austin, Texas,  March 12, 2019 — Mercy Ships has partnered with Oculus to produce “Mercy”, a film that will give  audiences a chance to step onto the world’s largest charity hospital ship through an innovative new virtual cinema experience.

The film will be making its world premiere at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference & Festivals in Austin, Texas. The film features the international nonprofit Mercy Ships and was produced through Oculus VR for Good Creators Lab, which pairs rising filmmakers with nonprofits.

“Virtual reality is the best way to experience another person’s story,” said Armando Kirwin, director of “Mercy.” Kirwin is one of the most experienced creators and technologists working in the field of virtual and augmented reality. He has helped create more than 20 notable projects for some of the biggest companies in the world.

The film  tells the story of Edith, a 14-year-old girl from Cameroon who developed a lemon-sized tumor on her jaw. “We’re very proud of this project and look forward to transporting the audience into Edith’s world,” Kirwin said.

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 free, 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, one of the surgeons 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 one of the millions of people Mercy Ships has touched in its 40-year history. Five billion people like Edith lack access to safe, affordable, timely surgery. Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to bring volunteer medical professionals directly to the places they’re needed most. They provide free surgeries and other medical care. Since 1978, Mercy Ships has directly impacted more than 2.7 million people.

This week, “Mercy” also was chosen to be presented at the 18th annual Tribeca Film Festival as part of Tribeca Immersive, which exhibits immersive projects to showcase new forms and uses of media, highlighting innovation across a variety of platforms.



About Mercy Ships

Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class healthcare services, capacity building and sustainable development to those with little access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries, providing services valued at more than $1.53 billion and treating more than 2.71 million direct beneficiaries. The Africa Mercy is crewed by 400 volunteers from up to 40 nations, an average of 1,000 each year. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. With offices in 16 nations, Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations. For more information visit:

About Oculus

The Oculus team at Facebook lets people defy distance—connecting with each other and the world—through world-class VR hardware and software. With global departments dedicated to cutting-edge research, computer vision, haptics, social interaction, and more, Oculus is committed to driving the state of the art forward through relentless innovation.

About SXSW Virtual Cinema

The South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference & Festivals celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film and music industries. Fostering creative and professional growth alike, SXSW is the premier destination for discovery. Part of the SXSW impressive lineup includes the virtual cinema category. The 26 projects in Virtual Cinema, presented by Bose, emphasize storytelling, ingenuity and also showcase how other industries are embracing this new medium.