Freedom Swimmer tells the story of a grandfather’s perilous swim from China to Hong Kong that parallels his granddaughter’s own quest for a new freedom. The 15 minute short film is based on a series of audio interviews with intergenerational family members in Hong Kong, and was made across three continents, four countries and three languages. Given the subject matter, the real storytellers in the film chose to stay anonymous.

Director Olivia Martin-McGuire states, “it is a story that those interviewed wanted to tell – but feared the consequences of doing so.”

The film also boasts an impressive crew. Agnes Patron, animator of the Cannes Film Festival, selected And The Bear, once again uses watercolour on black paper with a chiaroscuro effect, this time to envision the Grandfather’s memories, and Pierre Oberkampf shines as the film’s composer. Australian creative producer Brooke Tia Silcox and French producer Ron Dyens worked across timezones in Perth, Paris, London and Hong-Kong and conversing in English, French and Cantonese to see the film made.

Freedom Swimmer has consistently been a festival favourite, bringing home over thirty seven awards internationally from over 109 festival selections (and still counting). Notably, the film recently won the Bridging the Boarders Award at the Palm Springs Film Festival 2022 and received an Honourable Mention at the British Documentary Grierson Awards.

In addition, the film won the International Short Documentary Award at the DocEdge Festival in New Zealand which means the film is currently being considered for an Academy Award. Freedom Swimmer has also qualified for a BAFTA in Animation through its selection at several UK festivals including the prestigious Edinburgh Film Festival.

In The Palace International Short Film Festival declared Freedom Swimmer a “cinematic, moving and strikingly relevant today, this wonderfully narrated family story transcends the personal to make a universal statement about the price of freedom.”

International audiences will soon be able to catch the film as part of the PBS/ POV strand America’s longest-running nonfiction series as it was selected for the fifth season. Screenings are scheduled for February 2023.

 Freedom Swimmer is now available to stream on SBS On Demand in Australia. Freedom Swimmer was supported by Screen Australia.