Violeta Ayala is an award-winning filmmaker, technologist, writer, and artist. In 2020, she became the first Quechua member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Violeta's credits include the VR animation Prison X (2021) and the award-winning documentaries Cocaine Prison (2017), The Fight (2017), The Bolivian Case (2015) and Stolen (2009). Her films have premiered at major film festivals, including Sundance and Toronto, broadcasted on PBS, Channel 8, Señal Colombia, Ibermedia, World, and online platforms such as Amazon Prime and The Guardian. She has won over 50 awards and nominations including a Walkley (Australia’s Pulitzer) and nominations for the IDA (Los Angeles), Rory Peck (London), Platino (Panama) and Fenix (Mexico).
In 2013 she was invited by Arianna Huffington to write an opinion column at the Huffington Post. In 2015 Violeta began developing projects in virtual reality. Then in 2018, Violeta was awarded the Jaime Escalante Medal of Honour by the Bolivian Embassy in Washington DC for her outstanding talent in filmmaking. She gave a masterclass on the impact of journalism and storytelling at the Tempo Conference in Stockholm and was a guest panellist at AIDC in Melbourne discussing the role of filmmakers in the fast-changing media landscape.
In 2019 Violeta was invited to the Sundance Film Festival as a New Frontier Talent Fellow with Prison X, that includes a VR animated series and La Diablita, an animatronic puppet with AI, funded by Screen Australia, Screen NSW, Sundance and Tribeca. She also received production funding for the feature documentary, La Lucha from ITVS, Sundance, Screen Australia and Screen NSW.
Violeta was one of nine leading New Media creators selected worldwide for the CPH Lab in Copenhagen. She gave the keynote at the largest global network of organisations defending freedom of expression at IFEX in Berlin, and the MIT in Boston invited her for a personal workshop developing her XR practices. In November 2021, her feature documentary Cocaine Prison opened in cinemas in France.
In 2020 Violeta returned to Sundance as one of the guest luminaries for a panel on “Editing History”.
Her virtual reality animation, Prison X: the Devil and The Sun premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2021, Cannes XR and Games for Change to critical acclaim.
Violeta co-founded koa.xyz in 2021. She is using the blockchain to build a platform for artists and creatives, using augmented reality and virtual reality to power the experience. This was her first project; she build a gallery for Koa in cryptovoxels, and it won the OVERALL HONORABLE MENTION at the Indigenous Futurism Model-Making Competition of Yale's university center for architecture.
Meanwhile, she minted Flower Queans, a book of 3D-printed flowers and poems powered by artificial intelligence and embedded with collectible art.
PrisonX - Chapter 1: The Devil and The Sun (2021)
“Prison X is an immersive Andean mythological play that sweeps you into a labyrinthine Bolivian prison” SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL
“The Best Non-Linear Narrative...The most ambitious interactive narrative piece this year (Sundance 2021).”— VOICES OF VR
"Pushes against the boundaries of how a story can be told...Prison X is clearly drawing on the logic of immersive theatre.” — NO PROSCENIUM
“My favorite pick of this year’s bunch.”— UPLOAD VR
“Captured a state of dream logic that I so often want in VR.”— FORBES
“Asserts Indigenous aesthetics and cosmologies that not only were erased and devalued by colonial Spanish rule, but are woefully underrepresented in digital media today.”— ART IN AMERICA
“Prison X is a cry for freedom and for the democratization of technologies.” — INDIEWIRE
Experience the website
Cocaine Prison (2017)
“Truly Unique.” VICE
“Compellingly Kafkaesque.” FILMMAKER MAGAZINE
“Speaks documentary truth to power.” HAMMER TO NAIL
“One of the best films from Latin America of 2017.” EL PAIS
“Ayala has achieved something extraordinary.” GEORGIA STRAIGHT
“Extraordinary...Shot by the inhabitants of Bolivia’s San Sebastian Prison.” REMEZCLA
Watch on Amazon
The Fight (2017)
“Extraordinary, just hits you in the face.” CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR CNN
“The most politically explosive documentary of 2017.” NO FILM SCHOOL
“A brilliant, shocking and moving film.” BBC
"This is committed, compelling observational documentary-making at it’s best, with super-beautiful characters at its core." RORY PECK
Watch on The Guardian
The Bolivian Case (2015)
“Instead of asking us to question the guilt of these women, Ayala asks us to confront how gender—and also race and class—affects how we assign guilt.” VICE
“The best of 2015, Violeta Ayala is showing that is one of the most gifted investigative filmmakers of our times.” ROLLING STONE
“Very entertaining film and it’s just jaw-dropping… It’s a kind of film that you couldn’t write as fiction.” ABC
“These days you can always tell a great documentary because there’s a part of you that instantly wants to see a big budget dramatisation with the best Hollywood stars. The Bolivian Case is one such documentary.” THE HOLLYWOOD NEWS
“Pacy, exciting and hugely engrossing. Guaranteed to spark intense debate.” VARIETY
“Suspenseful, scary, and displaying personal bravery by Ayala and Fallshaw.” SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
“Riveting stuff. The film moves into political thriller territory when the filmmakers are made suddenly aware that the conversations they have taped put the lives of their subjects in peril, and they themselves have become prey to sinister political and cultural forces.” THE TORONTO STAR
Watch on Amazon
Plan of Action: BIPOC Documentary Professionals Respond to the Pandemic and Protest Movement, by Violeta Ayala, Claire Cao and Miasarah Lai, Filmmakers Magazine, July 2020
Prisoner #B57661, The Huffington Post, Dec 2016
The Water War, The Huffington Post, Nov 2016
Liberté, égalité, fraternité?, The Huffington Post, Sep 2016,
The Wicked Granny, The Huffington Post, June 2016
Water Canons Used On Disabled Protestors in Bolivia, The Huffington Post, May 2016
My Right to Live with Dignity, The Huffington Post, May 2016
Fair Trade Cocaine, The Huffington Post, Feb 2016
White People on Patrol, The Huffington Post, Jan 2016
The Firsthand Racism I Experienced in Australia, The Huffington Post, Aug 2015
Is Bolivia the New Afghanistan, or Is O'Grady From The WSJ Delusional?, The Huffington Post, Nov 2013
The Whistleblowers and Latin America, The Huffington Post, August 2013
What If Snowden Was on Board the Bolivian President's Jet?, The Huffington Post, July 2013
Cocaine: Just a Commodity?, The Huffington Post, June 2013
First Person: The 'Stolen' Filmmakers Explain How a Doc About Refugees Became a Controversial Film About Reported Slavery, by Violeta Ayala and Dan Fallshaw Indiewire, Feb 2013
Police start Woodside probe over bribery claim, by Violeta Ayala and Kate Askew, The Age, Oct 2006
Slick operator, by Violeta Ayala and Kate Askew, Syndey Morning Herald, June 2006