Magazine article Variety

Venice Showcases New Storytelling Fare

Magazine article Variety

Venice Showcases New Storytelling Fare

Article excerpt

The possibility that virtual reality could push the limits of the moviegoing experience took a giant leap forward with Alejandro G. Inarritu's "Carne y Arena" installation/ experience at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

But on the A-list festival circuit, it's the Venice Film Festival that is leading the way in VR.

There are of course other film festivals around the world that to varying degrees have been dipping their toes into what is becoming the VR craze.

Sundance, which was the first to explore and open up to interactive storytelling, has the New Frontier Story Lab residency program and showcases VR works as a non-competitive sidebar; Tribeca has its immersive Storyscapes and Visual Arcades programs; Toronto last year launched a separate VR strand called POP VR, which featured five pieces; Geneva Intl. Film Festival Tous Ecrans, which runs in November, started a competitive section with roughly 10 virtual reality works in 2016. And the Dubai fest in December has a VR showcase.

But no other festival besides Venice has a VR competition, a dedicated workshop and a market component.

The Lido is launching a 22-title competitive strand dedicated to VR works. It has also launched Biennale College Cinema Virtual Reality, an extension in the VR realm of its Biennale College lab, which shepherds micro-budget movies from development through distribution. And the Venice gap financing market for the second consecutive year will feature selected VR pieces to be pitched to financiers.

Spearheading Venice's push into VR is Michel Reilhac, a self-described apostle on the Biennale College staff who started advocating for VR three years ago with Venice Biennale president Paolo Baratta and its artistic director, Alberto Barbera.

"I really wanted to convince them that they had to look at VR and see it as a new option to tell stories and a potentially new art form," he says. …

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