Posted by Larry Gleeson
If you thought that the Venice Film Festival had lost its relevance, think again. Since 2013 the oldest film festival in the world has become the launching pad for the Oscars and now embraces the future of cinema by hosting the biggest and boldest presentation of Virtual Reality ever seen at any film festival.
And they do it in a way that only Venice can – with an immaculate sense of style and aplomb. The main big news is that Venice will dedicate an abandoned island in the lagoon to the presentation of the world’s best VR productions.
Located less than 50 meters from the Lido, where the festival takes place, sits Lazzaretto Vecchio. enice VR will literally be just a stone’s throw from the heart of the Festival and The PalaBiennale, which is one of the largest screening venues. This small, abandoned island used to be a leper colony and a quarantine transit island between the 15th and 17th century. The island alone is worth the short trip comments Michel, “There’s so much history in this place.”
About a decade ago, the hospital and the adjoining buildings on the island were partly renovated to house a future Museum of Archeology, which has not materialized to date. Now, Lazzaretto Vecchio has found a new purpose.
Venice VR also features a dedicated VR theater with 50 revolving leather seats located in a huge hangar from the 16th century. Visitors can see three programs in competition. Highlights include the first VR piece, The Deserted (55′), by internationally renowned Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-Liang. Additionally, there will be an Out of Competition program featuring previous VR pieces by directors who are part of this year’s Venice Production Bridge – the pitch market of the Festival.
A fifth program features three pieces from this year’s premiere edition of the Venice Biennale College Cinema – Virtual Reality which will be presented out of competition. The Venice Biennale College is a two-part pressure cooker-style training program that preps participants for a bright 360° interactive immersive future. Two projects (out of ten projects developed during this year’s College) have been made with support from Sony are presented alongside the third piece, a VR spinoff from Beautiful Things, which is one of the three “flat” films produced this year by the Biennale College Cinema.
Venice VR Competition at a glance
A major selection criterium of Venice is that all pieces have to be international or world premieres. The second criterium is of course the quality of the piece. 103 submissions were sent in from all over the world for Venice’s first VR competition. Among the 22 VR pieces that were selected are six room-scale installations, six Oculus and three Vive stand ups.
Three of the former hospital’s extended hallways and galleries will offer plenty of space for Venice’s ambitious VR program. “We will have something like 4000 square meters to just do the installations,” says Michel Reilhac. But it’s not just about the space, he adds. The atmosphere on the island is “simply magical.” This will be the very first time ever that the island is opened to visitors.
Venice Virtual Reality: Installations in Competition
There will be six installations that allow visitors to interact with the space and sometimes with actors. There are a couple of pieces that fall in the category of Reactive Theater; interactive VR experiences that use live performers, also referred to as “reactive actors.” Draw Me Close by the National Theatre and the NFB is a VR installation in which the actors “play” with the audience making the piece more immersive.
For a more complete listing click here!
(Source: submarinechannel.com, extracted from article by Remco Vlaanderen)