Tribeca Immersive’s Cinema360 Gives Attendees a New Perspective On Social Causes

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Addressing social injustice at Tribeca Film Festival 2019.

The annual Tribeca Film Festival held in NYC showcases an incredible selection of independent projects by creatives from all across the globe that explores storytelling in the form of narratives, documentaries, shorts, features, and television.

Since 2012, organizers of the festival have included VR and AR projects as part of their Virtual Arcade, a section of the festival where storytelling and VR/AR technology intersect.

Image Credit: Bobby Carlton

With VR and AR technology becoming increasingly popular, the festival’s organizers created Tribeca Immersive, a program which features not only the Virtual Arcade, but also includes Cinema360, a VR theatre that highlights groundbreaking storytelling told through 360-degree VR films.

Curators of Tribeca Immersive were focused on bringing social causes front and center during this year’s festivities, using their Cinema360 programming to showcase a variety of socially-conscious film that pushes the limits of storytelling.

Loran Hammonds, Senior Programmer of Film and Immersive for Tribeca Film Festival told VRScout, “I specifically looked-for projects that put storytelling at the front. At Tribeca overall, we’ve expanded from being just a film festival to being a storytelling festival.”

Image Credit: Bobby Carlton

Cinema360’s programming offered twelve different 360-degree VR projects from creators all around the globe that dealt with everything from the impact of war on children, to the impact of the ongoing pollution of our oceans.

Each project shown during Cinema360 had their own unique approach to storytelling. It was important to the curators of Cinema360 that they incorporate a variety of creators and embrace unique filmmaking techniques, as opposed to the same conventional practices. “There are some pieces that are a bit more experiential,” said Hammond.

Image Credit: Bobby Carlton

One film, Water Melts—a project by Lillian Mehrel and Mary Evangelista—uses live-action along with animation to immersive you into a three-in-one “mini-series” that explores what happens when you know time with a loved one is limited.

The project is described as a ‘blue-hearted rom-com’, but it’s much deeper than that. Though the piece uses actors, the creative team added small bits of animation throughout the film in a way that doesn’t get in the way of the story.

12 Seconds of Gunfire: The True Story of a School Shooting is a VR adaption of a story where a first-grade girl must embark on a life-altering journey after her best friend is senselessly shot down on the playground. Instead of live-action, the creators use illustrations by Wesley Allsbrook to bring their story to life, in the process reminding us of how truly dangerous guns can be.

Space Buddies (USA)—created by Matt Jenkins and Ethan Shaftel—is a fully animated comedy about surviving an insanity-inducing voyage to Mars. Featuring the voice talents of Rob Riggle, Judy Greer, and Ellen Wong, audiences can expect a laugh-out-loud journey aboard a comical spacecraft.

The VR documentary Children Do Not Play War—directed by Fabiano Mixo in collaboration with Oculus VR for Good—looks at war in Uganda through the eyes of a young girl who is facing new challenges every day. In an interview with VRScout, Mixo said, “I wanted to tell this story about children, because they represent our future.”

“This is not just happening in Uganda, it’s happening in other countries in the world. I needed to get this story out.” For Mixo, this project could not possibly exist as traditional 2D media. “VR is such a powerful tool.”

As for what can we expect from next year’s festivities:

“We are going to see the continuation of narrative move forward in VR,” states Hammond. “I think the creative nonfiction and documentary is really in a solid place, but I think we’ll see a jump forward in narrative construction that is not just animated. Something more live action or photogrammetry, actors, and something that incorporates AI-powered characters for you to have meaningful interactions, and then forming a story.”

Other projects shown during Tribeca Film Festivals Cinema360 include:

  • 11.11.18 (Project Creators: Sébastien Tixador et Django Schreven)
  • Mr. Buddha (Project Creator: HTC Corporation, Lee Chung)
  • Mercy (Project Creator: Armando Kirwin)
  • Girl Icon (Project Creator: Sadah Espii Proctor)
  • Armonia (Project Creator: Bracey Smith)

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