Tag Archives: Educational

Chicago Film Festival Marks 52nd Year

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Lisa Fielding

The Chicago International Film Festival is America’s longest running competitive film festival, and organizers are promising something for everyone this year.

Michael Kutza, Founder and Director, Chicago International Film Festival. (Photo credit: Emily Oscarson)

“Young people films like ‘Trolls’ in 3D for kids, up to musicals like ‘La La Land,’ which is a big, Oscar potential, and we have a whole section on musicals. But really the festival is based on discovering new directors and honoring some of the old ones who’ve been here over the years,” says Michael Kutza, Founder and Artistic Director.

Kutza founded the CIFF in 1964 and has been bringing independent and foreign films to the masses for years.

“We do a mix of independent and Hollywood. We close with a big Hollywood film to tempt you to come see some of our foreign films. It’s a tough town, but we want to get you to see the world, and so we tempt you with Hollywood,” he says.

Kutza says not only does the festival educate fans about films they would never have seen otherwise, but the 15-day festival offers hundreds of feature films. It’s an opportunity to see many features before they are released.

“You want the best films, you want the winner of the Cannes Film Festival, Venice, Sundance, then you start with that. We go all over the world to find what’s best and bring it to film fans here in Chicago,” he says.

There will also be documentaries, films by first-time filmmakers, short-subject films, educational films, big name directors and actors along with films submitted for the Academy Awards.

There’s even a new section this year, an International Musical section.

Programming Director Mimi Plauche, Chicago International Film Festival (Photo from http://www.tiff.ro.com)

“We found everything from an Israeli-Palestinian hip-hop musical. Three different Polish musicals were made this year, and we have two of them. It’s really kind of fun looking for and finding a whole new genre of films from around the world,” says Mimi Plauche, programming director.

This year’s main competition jury president is actress Geraldine Chaplin, daughter of Charlie Chaplin. She will join Kutza for a conversation about her career and the 23 days her famous father spent at Chicago’s Essanay Studios in 1915.

Actress Geraldine Chaplin, daughter of Charlie Chaplin, will serve as the main competition jury president for the 52nd Chicago Film Festival. (Photo courtesy of Chicago International Film Festival)

“I was just in Cuba and spent ten days on a jury with Geraldine. I asked her if she’d ever been to Chicago and she said no. I told her to come and take part and we can honor you and you talk about your life and your dad’s films,” Kutza says.

Directors Peter Bogdonovich, left, and Steve McQueen will be honored at the 52nd Chicago International Film Festival. (Photo credit: http://www.chicago.cbslocal.com)

This year, directors Peter Bogdonovich and Steve McQueen will be honored. The film fest opens on Thursday and runs through Oct. 27. For more information, click here.

(Source: http://www.chicago.cbslocal.com)

Warren Beatty to Receive SBIFF’s Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film

Academy Award® winner Warren Beatty will be honored with the eleventh annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film. Known for his iconic roles in BONNIE AND CLYDE, REDS, and DICK TRACY, Beatty will next be seen as Howard Hughes in 20th Century Fox’s RULES DON’T APPLY, which he also wrote and directed. The award will be presented at Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara on December 1, 2016 with all funds raised supporting SBIFF’s free year round educational programs.

Since 2006, the annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film, which this year coincides with Douglas’s 100th birthday, has been awarded to a lifelong contributor to cinema through their work in front of the camera, behind, or both. Past honorees include Jane Fonda, Jessica Lange, Forest Whitaker, Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Quentin Tarantino, Ed Harris, and John Travolta.

“Warren Beatty upholds the highest artistic standards of the film industry,” says Kirk Douglas, original award recipient. “His choice of material has entertained us as well as made us think more deeply about the world we live in. I’m delighted he is accepting this recognition of his extraordinary talent.”

The event starts off with an outdoor cocktail reception where attendees mingle with each other and watch the honoree and other special guests walk the red carpet. Following the reception, attendees are seated for an extravagant dinner and tribute in an intimate setting. Following the three-course meal, special guests will take the stage to recognize the honoree’s complete body of work with various montages and clips. The evening culminates with the honoree being presented with the award and addressing the attendees. These events are truly a once in a lifetime experience and will be remembered by its attendees for many years to come.

Tickets are available here.

The 32nd Santa Barbara International Film Festival s scheduled to run February 1-11, 2017.




(Source: http://www.sbiff.org)


Statistics of the first Venice Production Bridge

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-2-03-24-pmThe first Venice Production Bridge – the Festival film market’s evolution into a specialized meeting point for completing projects – was held from September 1-5, 2016 at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. The VPB re-proposed and expanded on the Venice Gap-Financing Market and Final Cut in Venice programs, making the most of the experience of the Biennale College – Cinema.
This first edition of the Venice Production Bridge registered 1,767 accreditations, including 758 Industry Gold accreditations (a 35% increase in this latter figure, compared to 2015).
Here are the final figures of the 2016 VENICE PRODUCTION BRIDGE:
·  GAP FINANCING MARKET (2-4 September): 448 pre-organized meetings were held for the 25 Fiction and Documentary projects, and 158 meetings for the 15 Virtual Reality/TV series/Web series. Fifty meetings were added directly on-site for all 40 projects.  Thus, a total of 606 encounters were re-organized, for a grand total of 656 meetings for the 40 projects over the two and a half days.
·  BOOK ADAPTATION RIGHTS AREA (2-3 September): over 250 meetings were organized over the two days for the 15 editors.
·  FINAL CUT IN VENICE (3-5 September): of the 6 projects presented in the selection, 4 films won the Final Cut prizes (***)
The European Film Forum was held on September 3-4, with the participation of the European Commissioner for the Digital Single Market, Günther Oettinger, and the Director-General of DG Connect, Roberto Viola. The European Film Forum organized two workshops, on access to financing for the creative industries and on the future of cinemas.
A total of 22, including 17 international panels and events
A total of 35, including 13 Private Screenings
51 films were available for viewing at the Digital Video Library, including:
6 films from Out of Competition, 18 from Orizzonti, 7 from Venice Classics, 4 from Biennale College Cinema, 2 from Cinema nel Giardino, 5 from SIC, 6 from Venice Days, 1 from Final Cut

(***) FINAL CUT Awards:
FELICITY / FÉLICITÉ  by Alain Gomis (France/Senegal/Belgium) Producer: Arnaud Dommerc received the following prizes:
–  Sub-Ti Ltd. (London) will offer up to € 7,000 to make a DCP master and Italian or English subtitles;
–  Sub-Ti Access Srl (Turin) will offer up to € 7,000 for a version accessible to people with sensorial disabilities;
–  Rai Cinema will offer € 5,000 to purchase the broadcasting rights for two years;
–  Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) will offer € 5,000 to reimburse costs incurred during post-production.
THE WOUND / ISIKO by John Trengove (South Africa/Germany/France/Holland) Producer: Elias Ribeiro received the following prizes:
–  Mactari Mixing Auditorium (Paris) will offer up to € 15,000 to make the sound mix;
–  Titra Film (Paris) will offer up to € 10,000 for digital color correction, and to make a DCP master and French or English subtitles.
GHOST HUNTING / ISTIYAD ASHBA by Raed Andoni (Palestine/France/Switzerland) Producer: Palmyre Badinie received the following prizes:
–  Laser Film (Rome) will offer € 15,000 for the color correction of a feature film, totaling up to 50 work hours (including technician);
–  The Festival International du Film d’Amiens will participate in the cost of making a DCP.
OBSCURE / OTMAH by Soudade Kaadan (Syria/Lebanon) Producer: Salma Kaf received the following prizes:
–  MAD Solutions will offer marketing, advertising and distribution in the Arab world;
–  The Festival International de Films de Fribourg will participate in the cost of making a DCP.

Ancaster’s André van Heerden pens script for virtual reality film

Jesus VR screens at Venice International Film Festival

Venice Film Festival attendees are donning thew virtual reality goggles for the advent of Jesus VR presentation. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)


Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Debra Downey, Ancaster News

Script-writer André van Heerden admits even he “got lost” in the experience of viewing the first feature-length virtual reality film.

A 40-minute preview of Jesus VR – The Story of Christ screened last month at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival, and the Ancaster resident and his wife, Carolyn, had front-row seats.

“Because it’s shown in virtual reality, it’s not really a big screen but more of an actual world that you’re suddenly immersed in. It was surreal,” said van Heerden. “…When you’re within that world and you’re able to turn and look wherever you want, you feel like you’re actually there.”

Virtual reality is a relatively new technology for film. The Venice theatre in which it was screened was equipped with 50 virtual reality headsets and individual seats that pivoted 360 degrees.

According to the show-business magazine Variety, if Jesus VR — The Story of Christ is a success, it could help shape the way virtual reality stories are produced and distributed. The film was shot entirely in Matera, Italy, and employed over a hundred crew members and hundreds of extras. It tells the story of Jesus Christ from his birth to his resurrection.

Van Heerden, who has worked in various aspects of film and video production for the past 15 years, said it took about a month to develop the script’s original draft, followed by another six weeks accommodating requests for extra scenes or additional parts to scenes.

Andre Van Heerden at the 73rd International Venice Film Festival. (Photo credit: Ancaster News)

“Because the producers were looking for a faithful and accurate telling of Jesus’ story, a lot of my writing was research based,” said van Heerden. “I wanted to make sure that I picked the most significant parts but also the moments that could be strung together to tell a complete story. Everything came back to Biblical scriptures and making sure that it lined up with them.”

Van Heerden also worked with technical advisor Father William Fulco to ensure the script was scripturally and theologically sound. Fulco was the technical advisor on the highly acclaimed movie The Passion of the Christ.

Jesus VR — The Story of Christ is slated to be released around Christmas on all major virtual reality platforms, including Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and the HTC Vive.

(Source: http://www.hamiltonnews.com)

‘Tutti a casa’ screens Pre-Opening night at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival

I wasn’t disappointed a bit on this one. Quite the opposite. The sanctity of the cinema and the reverence of the Italian audience is a “must experience.”
31/08/2016 13:41: Pre-opening screening – Sala Darsena – Tutti a casa – (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)
So after I waited in line for nearly two hours (in position number one), I found an aisle seat with an abundance of leg room. I settled in to hear Festival Director Alberto Barbera and Biennale President Paolo Baratta address the near-capacity audience at the Sala Dardene in Italian. As I am not fluent in Italian, I watched intently for cues in tone and body language. Both men seem to have had something important to say and the manner in which they delivered it made me sense there was a bit of philosophy floating through the sound waves.
Pre-opening screening – Sala Darsena – Tutti a casa, Francesca ed Eleonora Comencini © ASAC, la Biennale di Venezia
Homage was paid to Luigi Comenechi by a few of his relatives, including his beautiful daughter Francesca, in a highly eloquent manner.
Pre-opening screening – Sala Darsena – Tutti a casa – Thierry Frémaux © ASAC, la Biennale di Venezia

The final guest speaker, Thierry Fremaux, gave the audience a quick barrage of words in French on the importance of the Lumiere Brothers work and the nedd for it to be preserved. Mr. Barbera translatedMr. Fremeaux’s French into Italian then followed the French gentleman to his front row seat microphone in hand. With adept timing as Barbera took his seat next to the French gentlemen, the lights dimmed and the screen was illuminated with “Lumiere!”

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To celebrate this important anniversary, on the Pre-opening night of the 73rd Venice International Film Festival (Tuesday August 30th, at 8:30 pm) in the Sala Darsena on the Lido, the public gathered to celebrate Comencini’s one-hundredth birthday. Prior to the screening of the previously announced restored version of Luigi Comencini’s Tutti a casa the audience was invited to enjoy  the program of nine “views” made in Venice by the operators of the Cinématographe Lumière  said  the Director Fremaux of the Institut Lumière of Lyon.

The films, which were made over three consecutive years (1896-98), were:
Arrivée en gondole, 1896, N°291
Pigeons sur la place Saint-Marc,  N°292
Tramway sur le Grand Canal, 1896, N°293
Grand Canal avec barques, 1896, N°294
Panorama du Grand Canal pris d’un bateau, 1896, N°295
Panorama de la place Saint-Marc pris d’un bateau, N°296
Venise, place Saint-Marc, 1897, N°430
Arrivée en gondole des souveraines d’Allemagne et d’Italie au palais royal de Venise, 1898, N°1058
Départ en gondole, 1898, N°1059
The Biennale di Venezia thanked Thierry Fremaux and the Institut Lumière for their valuable collaboration, as well as the Alliance française and Carlo Montanaro of La Fabbrica del Vedere in Venice.
The screening of the “views” will be followed, for the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of the great director Luigi Comencini (1916 – 2007), by the previously announced screening of Comencini‘s masterpiece Tutti a casa (Everybody Go Home, Italy/France, 1960) starring Alberto Sordi, Serge Reggiani, Carla Gravina and Eduardo De Filippo, produced by Dino De Laurentiis, for the world premiere of the digitally restored copy by Filmauro and CSC – Cineteca Nazionale di Roma.
Venetian audiences were invited to the special Pre-opening tribute-night at the Sala Darsena on the Lido, beginning at 8:30 pm, thanks to the collaboration with the daily newspapers “Il Gazzettino”, “La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre” and “Il Corriere del Veneto”.


Tutti a casa by Luigi Comencini is one of the most famous and successful examples of what made the “commedia all’italiana” immortal: the blend of comedy and drama, of real and grotesque, of courage and determination to survive. Comencini, with the autobiographical complicity of the two great screenwriters Age and Scarpelli and the bitter laughs provoked by the remarkable performance of Alberto Sordi, tells the story of the chaos that ensued on September 8th 1943, when Badoglio signed the armistice and the soldiers loyal to the King and Mussolini were abandoned to their own destinies, to face many dangers alone. In the film, Alberto Sordi, on the phone under German gunfire, asks his superiors: “Colonel, Sir, this is Lieutenant Innocenzi, something amazing just happened, the Germans have become allies of the Americans. What are we supposed to do?”
Tutti a casa is a “road movie” across the ruins and confusion reigning in Italy at that time, when the soldiers had no one to give them orders and one after another they decided to head back home: tutti a casa, everybody go home. In the story, Second Lieutenant Alberto Innocenzi (Sordi), who is used to obeying and not answering back, is abandoned by his soldiers and flees from north to south with his sick friend, the Neapolitan military engineer Ceccarelli (Serge Reggiani). He runs into German soldiers eager for retaliation who shoot at them, witnesses the odyssey of a Jewish girl attempting to escape (for whom a young Venetian soldier gives his life), meets an American prisoner hiding in an attic, is united with his father (Eduardo De Filippo) who wants to send him back to the Fascist army, until the final redemption during the 4 days of Naples. At the time Comencini stated: “On the 8th of September, people were abandoned to themselves, and that is what I wanted to describe”. The film was a box office hit, bringing in over a billion lire in ticket sales.
comencini-thumbLuigi Comencini (1916-2007) who was awarded a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in 1987 by the Biennale di Venezia, is considered one of the greatest masters of Italian-style comedy, as well as “the children’s director“. Among his comedies, his first masterpiece was Pane, amore e fantasia (Bread, Love and Dreams, 1953), with Gina Lollobrigida and Vittorio De Sica, winner of the Silver Bear in Berlin, the prototype for what is known as “neorealismo rosa” and one of the highest-grossing films in the history of Italian cinema, followed over the years by other hit comedies such as Pane, amore e gelosia (Bread, Love and Jealousy, 1954), Mariti in città (Husbands in the City, 1957), Lo scopone scientifico (The Scientific Cardplayer, 1957) and Mio Dio, come sono caduta in basso! (Till Marriage Do Us Part, 1974).
Comencini addressed the theme of childhood early on in 1946 with Bambini in città, his first short documentary (which won an award in Venice and a Nastro d’argento), while Proibito rubare (Hey Boy, 1948), set among the street children in Naples, was his first feature-length film. His significant production of films on the theme of “childhood” continued with La finestra sul Luna Park (The Window to Luna Park, 1956), Incompreso (Misunderstood, 1966, in competition at Cannes and winner of a David di Donatello), Voltati Eugenio (1980, presented at the Venice Film Festival), Un ragazzo di Calabria (A Boy from Calabria, 1987, in competition in Venice) and Marcellino pane e vino (1991) his last film directed with his daughter Francesca. Also worthy of note are his versions of two classics of children’s literature, such as Le avventure di Pinocchio (The Adventures of Pinocchio, 1972) and Cuore (1984).
A co-founder in 1935 with Alberto Lattuada and Mario Ferrari of the Cineteca italiana in Milan, Comencini directed a total of forty feature-length films, excluding his documentaries, screenplays, and investigative reports for Rai television. He experimented with many genres other than comedy, such as murder mysteries (La donna della domenica, The Sunday Woman, 1975), melodrama (Incompreso, 1966), literary films (La ragazza di Bube, 1963), period films (Infanzia, vocazione e prime esperienze di Giacomo Casanova veneziano, 1974), film-operas (La Bohème,  1987), but also experimented with more particular films (Cercasi Gesù, 1982, winner of a Nastro d’argento). In an interview he granted in the early 1980s, Comencini declared that he was willing to defend ten of his films, that “would never have seen the light of day if I had not made other flawed films, wholly or in part. But I have never made a film in bad faith”.
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August 31: Opening of the 73rd Venice Film Festival

The 73rd Venice International Film Festival, organized by La Biennale di Venezia, will run at Venice Lido from August 31st to September 10th, 2016, directed by Alberto Barbera.

The aim of the Festival is to raise awareness and promote the various aspects of international cinema in all its forms: as art, entertainment and as an industry, in a spirit of freedom and dialogue. The Festival also organizes retrospectives and tributes to major figures as a contribution towards a better understanding of the history of cinema.

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(Photo courtesy of ASAC Images/La Biennale di Venezia)

73rd Venice International Film Festival


Screening schedule

Screenings by Director / by Title

International Juries

Introduction by the President of La Biennale di Venezia, Paolo Baratta
Introduction by the Director, Alberto Barbera
Productions and co-productions of the films in the official selection
Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement: Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jerzy Skolimowski
Web Theatre: online screening for 18 feature films in the line-up
Lido in Mostra” project: Services and special offers for the public, young people and accredited visitors
Calendar of events, presentations and talks

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Work wrapping up at Lido for Venice Film Festival

Workers wrapping up the day at the Lido Casino for the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. Opening night is slated for August 31st, 2016. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)
Workers have begun wrapping it up at Lido for the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. A Pre-opening Night film showcase featuring the historic works from the Lumiere Brothers on “views” of Venice, shot and constructed over a three year period from 1896 through 1898 jump starts this year’s event with an 8:30PM Invitation-only SCEENING at Sala Darsena. Furthermore, in recognition of Luigi Comencini’s one-hundreth birthday, a screening of his Tutti a casa, will accompany the Lumiere Brothers” Venice.  The Festival has decided to cancel the Opening Night Gala out of respect for the earthquake victims in Amatrice. Nevertheless, the line-up  features 20 films vying for this year’s Golden Lion. Each and every one of this year’s selection is a bona-fied contender.

In addition, Virtual reality has found a home with Jesus VR – The Story of Christ. A special 40 minute preview of the first feature length virtual reality film will be available for viewing on the 2nd floor of the Casino beginning September 1st.

Even though La La Land, the Opening Night Film, and Jackie, a hot ticket item,  are not receiving the studios significant marketing and publicity efforts here at Lido this year, The Light Between Oceans, is generating heightened buzz commisserate with the blossoming chemistry, on and off-screen, between the film’s dynamic co-stars, Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander.

As with any festival, surprises are waiting to be unveiled. Who or what is waiting for the opportunity at Lido? A wise place to look is the New York Film Academy Student Showcase.

(Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)
For information on tickets click here!

This 73rd edition of the Venice Film Festival seems to be offering something for everyone. On September 2nd, Dawn of the Dead restored in 4K , has the midnight madness audience licking its chops. Following on the heels of the restored Dawn of the Dead is the Final Cut in Venice  workshop from Septmber 3rd through September 5th as part of the Venice Production Bridge. In keeping in line with keeping it fresh, the festival continues to explore its international audiences with its 5th Sala Web offering film lovers from around the world the opportunity to see world premieres and to follow the Biennale buzz on www.festivalscope.com/venicesalaweb2016. The Venice Classics section is screening the censored Moshen Makhamalbaf film, Shabhaye Zayandeh – rood (The Nights of Zayandeh – rood ). Last but not least, the independently run Venice Days section is launching 18 world premieres.

See you at the movies!




Northern Ireland Student selected for Venice Days jury

Queen’s Film Theatre (QFT) has, for the second time, had one of its movie lovers chosen to represent the UK at Europa Cinemas’ 28 Times Cinema initiative. This year Steven Armour, a Queen’s University graduate and former member of QFT’s Takeover Film club, will represent QFT as a member of the Venice Days jury during the Venice Film Festival between 31st August – 11th September.


28 Times Cinema gives 28 young people from across Europe the opportunity to gain in-depth experience of the world famous Venice Film Festival. QFT is one of 28 cinemas from across the European Union states to be selected to send a young movie goer to spend ten days at the festival watching the Venice Days film selection and sharing their opinions and ideas.

Marion Campbell, QFT Learning Offcier said ‘We are all very proud of Steven! He will represent the UK and Queen’s Film Theatre during the Venice Days and watch all the films presented at Venice Days and the LUX film Prize 2016 Competition. While at the film festival, he will have the chance to meet international filmmakers and other film industry professionals and will be writing an online blog on his experiences.’

Following a tough selection process Steven was the one successful candidate selected from the UK and he is looking forward to the experience. “It’s an amazing opportunity to represent the UK as part of this year’s 28 Times Cinema initiative. Cinema has been a passion of mine from a young age, and so to have this chance to attend one of the world’s best film festivals is a dream come true. I can’t wait to join the 27 other young cinephiles from across Europe to watch new films, work together as a jury, and write reviews, gaining invaluable experience for my future aspirations of working in film.”


Susan Picken, Head of QFT recognises how important opportunities like this can be, “To have the chance to attend such a prestigious Film Festival in this way at the start of your career is priceless. The experience and the networking opportunities that this presents are not to be taken for granted and I know that Steven will make the most of every moment.”


(Source: http://www.northernirelandscreen.co.uk)


Virtual reality gets starring role at Venice film festival

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Vanessa Thorpe

There will be a special salon at the event for viewing increasingly ambitious productions in the new immersive format.

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Venice, first of the big autumn film festivals, is the most glamorous, attracting big stars to Europe’s most beguiling location. But this year, virtual reality technology could steal the limelight from all the talent posing on the Rialto.

The film, Jesus VR- The Story of Christ, is too be unveiled at the festival on Thursday, marks the biggest investment so far in bringing the immersive world of virtual reality to mainstream cinema. The US-backed film will be 90 minutes long when it is released this Christmas, but 40 minutes are to be previewed in Venice for anyone quick enough to grab a headset. Filmed in 360 degrees, it places its audience as spectators at the nativity, and takes them right through to the resurrection. The film is Venice festival’s way of saying that the future has arrived.

“Just as 3D cinema offered a way to draw audiences that had been lost to television back to the cinema, in the 1950s, so VR provides a unique selling point in the battle against the ubiquity and accessibility of online content,” said film and gaming expert Michael Pigott of Warwick University. “VR certainly offers a form of entertainment experience that is new and striking, but perhaps of equal importance is the fact it is tied to technology. Entertainment companies can market a unique experience that audiences can only have if they go to a VR-capable cinema or purchase the requisite headset and hardware.”

Although Imax cinemas are billing their VR theatres as alternatives to the solitary headset experience, up until now consumers have had to shell out for a VR system like Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard or the HTC Vive.

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This spring, the Cannes film festival also gave more space than usual to VR, showing more than 35 new short films. But it is Venice that has really welcomed the format, setting up a special viewing salon. So, despite deciding to call off the festival’s opening celebrations out of respect for the Umbrian earthquake victims, Venice will still be watched closely in the wider film world to see how sceptical critics react to VR.

The big question remains: does anything yet bridge the divide between the worlds of gaming and cinema? At Cannes, Steven Spielberg was not convinced. He said he felt VR was even potentially “dangerous” because it let the viewer “forget the story”. Alongside naysayers like Spielberg is Pixar’s co-founder, Ed Catmull: “It’s not storytelling. People have been trying to do [VR] storytelling for 40 years. They haven’t succeeded,” he said last year.

Videogaming, he believes, is the natural home for the technology. “It’s its own art form, though, and it’s not the same as a linear narrative.”

Yet Pigott points out there are two ways that VR is already providing new kinds of storytelling: experiments in a kind of “light” interactivity that allows the viewer limited control over their point of view within a film; and a stronger version, where the viewer can explore a fictional world – something that many video games, such as GTA 5 or The Last of Us, already permit, if only in an animated form, rather than a photographic world.

Lucasfilm has played around with Google’s Cardboard headset kit, making a short VR video called Jakku Spy, which it released before Star Wars: The Force Awakens, while newcomer Baobab Studios has made a six-minute film called Invasion! It was presented at Cannes by Eric Darnell, the co-director of animated hit Madagascar, who told reporters it was not an extension of cinema, but “a brand new language”.


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This month, a pop-up event in Los Angeles showcased The Turning Forest, an adventure made by Oscar Raby in which the viewer partners up with strange creatures to activate musical cues together. Another new short film, Tendril Studios’ Sankhara, makes the viewer a space traveller who returns to Earth, inspired by TS Eliot’s poem Four Quartets.

Oculus, bought by Facebook for $2Billion, has set up a Story Studio division and followed up on a release last year, Lost, with Henry – “a heartwarming comedy about a loveable hedgehog”.

Oculus’s new owner, Mark Zuckerberg, has no doubts about the importance of VR, but emphasises its impact on health and education, and watching sport, rather than film. “Imagine enjoying a courtside seat at a game, or studying in a [global] classroom of students and teachers all over the world, or consulting a doctor – just by putting on goggles in your home,” he wrote.

Optimists about the potential influence of VR on cinema believe it is a matter of learn to tell a story in a more complex way, something that great novelists have always done and that immersive theatre companies like Punchdrunk now also practice successfully.

Ultimately, Pigott suspects that both VR and conventional film will find a way to coexist, like cinema and TV have. “These were two very different mediums, and it turned out there was room for both. It is less a question of technologies, than of different modes of storytelling and spectacle, and … one is unlikely to simply replace the other,” he said.


NY Film Academy Student Showcase to Open the Market at 73rd Venice Film Festival

xgi_145247_pasotti-png-pagespeed-ic-o7g3ah4z8dThe New York Film Academy (NYFA) is proud to announce a special student showcase as part of this year’s 73rd Venice Film Festival Market.

Providing an unprecedented opportunity for exposure and networking to a selection of our talented students, NYFA’s Venice Showcase will feature 5 short films spanning all three academic departments – fiction, documentary and animation. The NYFA event is set to open the brand-new Venice Production Bridge platform in the morning of September 1st at the Spazio Incontri of Venice’s Excelsior Hotel.

Italian actor and NYFA alumnus Giorgio Passoti (The Great Beauty, After Midnight, Salty Air) is scheduled to introduce the showcase and discuss his career after NYFA during a lively and informal Q&A with industry, press and general audience all encouraged to attend.

Following the showcase will be a networking cocktail hour from 1:15 to 2:15 p.m., as well as one-on-one info sessions for those interested in learning more about the Film Academy.

The NYFA Venice Showcase will include the following selections:

The Life of Janka, by Luis Henriquez Viloria (fiction)

After the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010, thousands of kids went to the streets and became a target for organizations of child traffickers. These kids were traded like livestock. “Life of Janka” is a fictional story of two brothers who go through such an experience.

Fumo, by Sean Miyakawa (fiction)

Set in the mid-1920’s, a frustrated sound composer works as one of the first sound engineers in the history of cinema who happened to be madly in love with the main actress of the production. On the day he decides to finally declare his love to her, he finds out about an affair going on between her and the director. The discovery drives him crazy.

Alive & Kicking: The Soccer Grannies of South Africa, by Lara-Ann de Wet (documentary)

In Limpopo, South Africa, the village grannies lace up their soccer boots and start kicking their way down the field – and through centuries of oppressive taboos. They play serious soccer and then break into the laughter and traditional song that help fuel their singular struggle for decent lives and a league of their own.

The Perfumist, by Yukari Akaba, Shannon Lee, Daniela Lobo Dias, Sandra Rivero Ortiz (animation)

“The Perfumist” is a dramatic story highlighting the battle of Machine-Equipped Man against Cosmic Nature. Seeking the perfect scent for his perfume within, what seems to be, an enchanted rainforest, Benedict Malville runs into the consequences of trampling on sacred, natural ground.

The Right Way, by Elena Zobak Alekperov & Flavia Groba Bandeira (animation)

A short animated story of the day in a mom’s life of raising her young child. While the child tests the mother’s patience, there is a final moment of relief after the mom reveals her secret oasis within the confines of the home.

About the 73rd Venice Film Festival

Dedicated to recently deceased Michael Cimino and Abbas Kiarostami, this year’s Venice Film festival includes new films from Natalie Portman, Terrence Malick, Ryan Gosling, Tom Ford, Amy Adams, and Derek Cianfrance competing for the event’s prestigious Golden Lion award, joining two lifetime Achievement Golden Lions for Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jerzy Skolimowski.

About New York Film Academy

With locations all around the world, the New York Film Academy has grown into an international film and performing arts school with a focus on learning by doing, providing its students with hands-on instruction. Students can choose to enroll in one of the Academy’s MFA, MA, BFA, BA, and AFA U.S. accredited degree programs and short-term workshops in filmmaking, acting for film, photography, producing, 3D animation, cinematography, screenwriting, documentary filmmaking, game design, musical theatre, broadcast journalism, music video, graphic design, illustration, and digital editing.

With more than 8,000 students from over 100 countries, NYFA offers courses in New York City, Los Angeles, South Beach (Miami), Sydney & Gold Coast in Australia, Florence, and more.

The New York Film Academy’s Florence, Italy location holds film and acting programs in a renovated renaissance era building, across the street from Le Cappelle Medici, moments away from the Duomo.

Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Bruce Springsteen, Al Pacino, Robert Downey Jr., Kevin James, Jamie Foxx, and Jodie Foster are among the many figures in the film industry that have sent their family members to study at the New York Film Academy.