TRIBECA: ‘The Key’ Wins Tribeca’s Storyscape Award For Best Immersive Media

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Celine Tricart’s narrative VR experience takes home gold at Tribeca Film Festival.

The 18th annual Tribeca Film Festival has announced the winner of their Storyscapes Award, an award that recognizes groundbreaking storytelling told through new technologies. This year’s first-place selection was The Key, an intense narrative-based interactive VR experience where your participation is crucial to help unravel a mystery across several dreamlike worlds.

The Key, which debuted at this years Tribeca Virtual Arcade, immerses you into a world where each challenge you face is filled with dangerous twists and unexpected turns. The award-winning journey takes you down a path filled with hidden truths, culminating in a surprising and powerful twist ending.

Director of the experience, Celine Tricart, has been making some big waves in the VR industry for some time now. She’s a world-renowned 3D and VR expert with an impressive resume, whos projects have been showcased at Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, Hotdocs, the Austin Film Festival, the Clermont Ferrand Film Festival, and the Chicago Film Festival. She is also the recipient of a Creative Award by the Advance Imaging Society, an Aurora Award, and two Telly Awards.

Tricart isn’t afraid to tackle extremely hard subjects. Her film The Sun Ladies, is a powerful immersive documentary about the brave Yazidi women in Iraq, who escaped their ISIS captors to start a female-only fighting unit called the Sun Ladies with the goal of fighting back and protecting the honor and dignity of their people, and fellow women.

For The Key, Tricart wanted to expand past standard 360-degree filmmaking to create a more impactful immersive experience for audiences. Talking with Adweek, Tricart said “viewers have become numb in a way to what’s unfortunately become all too familiar.” Tricart’s solution was to take a more abstract approach; instead of a 360-film experience, she chose to immerse the user into a dark VR world that uses an intelligent collection of metaphors to highlight ongoing, real-world issues.

As the winner of the Storyscapes Award, the creatives behind The Key will receive a price of $10,000, presented by AT&T. One of the competitions jurors went into detail regarding what elements of The Key stood out for him the most. “The experience combines a real actor with fantastical, immersive visuals and achieves a rarity in VR storytelling. Of particular note are the superbly executed virtual reality technical details, including character design, use of color, and sound design.”

In an interview with VRScout, Tricart talked about winning the Storyscapes Award, saying, “It was a huge honor to be selected among all of the great projects. It came as a surprise.” As for the $10,000 prize, “We donated the entire amount to a nonprofit.”

For her next project, the director is diving into the world of indie gaming. “To me the potential of VR was always game engine based, to bring some level of interaction is where VR thrives. The problem I’m encountering is that the more you add interactivity, the more it becomes a game which can sometimes get in the way of emotion.”

Image Credit: Celine Tricart

For Tricart, the future of VR is about finding balance.

“The gaming industry has really nailed this balance in the last few yearsyou get these incredible emotional stories and it’s still a game.”

As for the future of The Key, “We want to take it to international festivals. Continue working on balance, and continue to work on emotion and interaction.”

The Key, which features the voice talent of Alia Shawkat as Anna, was created in collaboration with Lucid Dreams Productions and Oculus VR for Good Creators Lab – a program that partners VR creators with nonprofit organizations from all over the globe in the hopes of pushing storytelling in new directions while at the same time highlighting important world issues.

Out of the five projects considered for this years Storyscapes Award, four of the five nominees are from female creators or female-lead teams.

Tribeca Film Festival is going on now in NYC and ends on Sunday May 5th.

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