Raindance 2016 Reveals its VR Line-Up

From Cannes to Venice and Tribeca, film festivals have been showcasing a wealth of Virtual Reality content this year, and Raindance — which opens in London on September 21st — is no exception. At a press briefing today they unveiled the 14 experiences that will feature at their first ever VR Arcade (or should it be VRcade?) hosted at Covent Garden’s Hospital Club.

It’s great to see the variety of content coming through for the medium, ranging from Oscar Raby’s Easter Rising: Voice of a Rebel — produced by the BBC in collaboration with the National Theatre’s Immersive Storytelling Studio — to RecoVR: Mosul, which brings back to life the historical collection of the Mosul Museum, raided by IS in 2014.

There’s also a strong emphasis on empathy-based projects, which create an emotional connection between viewers and storytellers. This sense of “shared experience” comes naturally to VR, and it is being used by filmmakers to explore themes as varied as abortion, blindness, imprisonment, epilepsy and terrorism.

Raindance tickets go on sale on September 1st, but in the meantime here are some of the highlights of this year’s VR programme:

WITNESS 360: 7/7

The 13-minute film uses personal testimony, reconstruction and abstract imagery to immerse the viewer in the story of Jacqui Putnan, an ordinary London commuter on her way to work on July 7th, 2005 when a bomb is detonated on the Circle Line carriage next to hers.

6x9 — A VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE OF SOLITARY CONFINEMENT

UK, Francesca Panetta and LindsayPoulton

6x9

Ever wondered what it’s like to be locked up for 23 hours a day in space measuring just 6x9? When I visited Alcatraz during a trip to San Francisco earlier this year I remember standing in front of one of those tiny cells and physically feeling the sense of confined despair. That story of psychological damage that can result from this isolation is what the Guardian-commissioned experience tries to replicate.

ACROSS THE LINE

USA, Nonny de la Peña

Across the Line

Here the “Godmother of VR” combines 360°video CGI to put viewers in the shoes of a patient who goes into a health centre for an abortion, facing angry protesters along the way.

CTRL

UK, Nigel Townsend

Ctrl Film still 1

An interesting take on VR, combining theatre and computer simulation to put the viewer at the centre of hard-hitting issues.

HOME — AN IMMERSIVE SPACEWALK EXPERIENCE

IN MY SHOES: DANCING WITH MYSELF

UK, Jane Gauntlett

DWM_03

The film tells the true story of Jane, her friends, and the struggle with epilepsy, fusing film, theatre and technology into an empathetic experience.

INSIDE THE BOX OF KURIOS

Cirque du Soleil have a strong track record of bringing innovation to the creative arts space, so it’s not that surprising that they were among the first to embrace VR, creating this specially tailored performance for VR.

NOTES ON BLINDNESS: INTO DARKNESS

THE ROSE AND I

USA, Eugene Chung

COVER The Rose and I still 1

Based on the classic tale of The Little Prince, this film by Penrose Studios depicts a heartbreaking tale of loneliness, friendship and loss.

THE TURNING FOREST


Originally published at Alice Bonasio.

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