Knit’s Island

FRANCE / 2023 / English, French / Color / DCP / 98 min

- Director, Script, Photography: Ekiem Barbier, Guilhem Causse, Quentin L’helgoualc’h
Editing: Nicolas Bancilhon
Sound Design, Mixing: Mathieu Farnarier Music: Ekiem Barbier, Guilhem Causse, Marc Siffert
Producer: Boris Garavini
Production Company: Les Films Invisibles
World Sales: Square Eyes

DayZ is an online game where players must survive in a world overrun with zombies. A French film crew immerses itself deep into a community frequented by the game’s anonymous users, boldly collecting 963 hours of footage within this virtual space. In the game, they meet a collective of tyrannical players, a group of philanthropists, as well as users who always take part alone, interviewing them about their reasons for absorbing themselves in the game. Voices overlayed on the avatars onscreen and sounds of their everyday lives that drift into their microphones reminds us of the players’ physical presence in the offline world. Eventually, the film crew heads off on a journey to explore the limits of the game’s world. (TS)

[Director’s Statement] For a number of years, we have been interested in online video games and smart spaces as being conducive to producing documentaries. Our attention gradually turned in particular to so-called “sand box” games: online, open world universes without preestablished narratives, where players are free to invent their own stories, codes or embryos of societies. After producing Marlowe Drive, a medium-length film examining the imaginations and consumerist aspirations of young Grand Theft Auto V players, in 2018, for over two years we immersed ourselves in a community evolving around the Czech survivalist game DayZ in order to understand what pushed players to spend time in the virtual world. This film is a first-person immersion in this game, in which players try to survive in an environment haunted by an end of the world atmosphere. The film invites the audience on a crossing of this space: vast rural landscapes in which we can perceive traces of a fallen state. We travel this territory as if it were a forest populated by guerillas of different factions, looking for players to communicate with, people who agree to interact with us in interviews and to “play” with the scenarios we propose. They participate in our experience, confide in us, disclosing themselves little by little as they evoke what they are living on both sides of the screen: in the virtual space of DayZ and “IRL,” in real life.

- Quentin L’helgoualc’h (left)
Ekiem Barbier (center)
Guilhem Causse (right)

Met at the School of Fine Arts of Montpellier. In 2016 they formed a research group that questions the relationship to reality in online video games. In 2017 they tried their hand at a first documentary exploration in the game GTA V Online, and directed the medium-length film Marlowe Drive (2017), which they screened at various festivals (FIFIB, Brive) and art centers (Fondation Cartier, Centquatre Paris), among others. In 2018 they began writing Knit’s Island, their first feature-length documentary, also shot entirely inside an online game.