As one more casualty of the Coronavirus, the Tribeca Film Festival Cinema360 program moves online this year. We’re trying to look at this on the bright side. The Festival, which is right down the street from us, will be in our VR headsets at home. We’ve covered it for many years – it’s a highpoint of spring in NYC for us – and will miss the energy of the crowds this time around.
At least we will have access to the Cinema360 offerings, which is Tribeca’s audience-facing 360 video program. As Loren Hammonds, Senior Programmer of Film & Immersive said in a statement,
Now, more than ever, we are feeling incredibly isolated from one another. . .The XR community is very much a global community, as evidenced by this program which features work from China, South Korea, Spain, and Ethiopia, just to name a few. It’s my hope that by providing these remarkable 360 films to a global audience during this trying time, we can do our part to bring people back together in the name of great art and shared perspectives. (VRFocus)
Unfortunately, we won’t get to experience the high-end VR installations in the on-site Virtual Arcade, which has always been a significant part of Tribeca Immersive. According to CNet, the Festival is still working on a “Plan B” for the Arcade but we don’t see this happening given that it involves sharing VR headsets and sizable crowds.
But the Cinema360 works are always inspiring and an excellent guide for those in education and the film community. It’s an incredible resource for courses in media studies and a chance to see artists experimenting with a new medium.
360 video will never be effective at replicating what we can already do with traditional video. Learn from those who are pushing the boundaries. They don’t always succeed, but the results are fascinating.
And with the extraordinary events of this year – confined to our homes during a global pandemic – new VR projects come like a breath of fresh air.
Tribeca Film Festival Cinema360 Online
To get the Tribeca Film Festival Cinema360, the organizers have coordinated with Facebook Oculus. The projects will be available through Oculus TV on the Oculus Go and Oculus Quest headsets. It’s too bad that the content will not be available more widely. The Rift S is excluded though that might be expected given the priority Oculus gives to the Quest HMD. And as for other headsets like the HP Reverb and HTC models, users are out of luck.
Just like the in-person Festival, the 360 video films will only have limited availability running from April 17-26.
As in years past, expect to see several innovative immersive storytelling projects. This year, two-thirds of the artists will be making their global debut at Tribeca, representing 11 different countries.
Here is the 360 video film list from Indiewire, arranged in four different collections.
Cinema360 Program 1: Dreams to Remember
These dreamlike experiences are journeys of adventure, from an immigrant worker’s poetic and alienating vision of his new home country, to the seemingly impossible first mission to an unexplored moon.
“1st Step” (International Premiere) — Germany
“1st Step” is equal parts documentary and fairy tale, telling the magical story of a dream come true: the Apollo missions. Follow the missions from launch all the way through to return, and find yourself gazing at lunar panoramas re-created from NASA’s archival photos.
Project Creators: Joerg Courtial, Maria Courtial
“Dear Lizzy” (World Premiere) — USA
Lizzy takes a walk as she reads a letter from a long lost friend. The road is long and there are many strange and beautiful things to see along the way. Yet Lizzy keeps walking. What is she searching for?
Project Creator: Within & Fivehundred
Key Collaborator: Deborah’s Child
“Forgotten Kiss” (World Premiere) — Finland
Based on the story “Forgotten Kiss” by Russian writer Alexander Kuprin, this film tells the beautiful legend of a royal prince, who was kissed by the magic Fairy of the Spring Night. As the prince grew up he kept looking for something incomprehensible, something completely forgotten: the forgotten kiss of the fairy.
Project Creator: Oleg Nikolaenko
Key Collaborator: Daniil Bakalin
“Rain Fruits” (World Premiere) — South Korea
Tharu comes to Korea from Myanmar in hopes of becoming a trained engineer. After a series of experiences as an alien worker in this capitalist country, he realizes that one’s dream cannot be found anywhere in the world but where his heart is: his homeland.
Project Creators: Youngyoon Song, Sngmoo Lee
Key Collaborators: Sergio Bromberg, Hyejin Jeon, Jinhyung Kim, Hwaeun Kim
Cinema360 Program 2: Seventeen Plus
Future classics in search of cults, this collection of mind-bending narrative experiences is designed for more mature audiences.
“A Safe Guide to Dying” (World Premiere) — USA
Linus is on a journey to find painless ways to die inside a video game simulation that emulates sensory experiences. While experimenting with different suicide methods, he realizes he cannot log out. Trapped in a digital abyss, a force is set in motion to reconnect Linus with his offline self.
Project Creator: Dimitris Tsilifonis
Key Collaborator: Froso Tsipopoulou
“Black Bag” (North American Premiere) — China
Ex-military security guard, Mr. S works for a bank and leads the life of a normal working-class man. He fantasizes about a major heist, a dream that becomes reality. This VR film uses abstract metaphor combined with a unique hand-painted art style to create an intense thriller.
Project Creator: Shao Qing
“The Pantheon of Queer Mythology” (World Premiere) — Spain
“The Pantheon of Queer Mythology” is a window into the world of a collective of Deities that present a way to question, empathize, celebrate, repent, resist, consume, abstract, identify, regenerate, and love in complex times. Step in, dare to learn, be inspired to grow, and enjoy the queerness.
Project Creator: Enrique Agudo
Key Collaborator: Tim Deluxe
“Saturnism” (World Premiere) — France
Step inside one of the darkest paintings in the history of art: Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son. You will find yourself alone with mad Saturn himself in the cold and gloomy landscape. Saturnism is a visceral and primitive 360 experience.
Project Creator: Mihai Grecu
Cinema360 Program 3: Kinfolk
This portion of the Tribeca Film Festival Cinema360 program will include three stories of homes and families.
“Ferenj: A Graphic Memoir In VR” (World Premiere) — USA, Ethiopia
“Ferenj” is a visual dialogue between memory, reality, and the digital in an immersive memoir about Ethiopian-American mixed-race identity.
Project Creator: Ainslee A. Robson
Key Collaborator: Liam Young
“Inhabited House, The” (North American Premiere) — Argentina
Creator Diego Kompel resurrects fond memories of his grandparents house in this inventive non-fiction work. Compositing 360 footage of the house with actual home movies that help bring the past to life, this experience is an exercise in formalism that draws on the power of remembrance, reverence, and family.
Project Creator: Diego Kompel
“Home” (International Premiere) — Taiwan ROC
In this beautifully poignant experience, a family gathers at their old house on a summer afternoon. They surround grandma, though she’s no longer able to move, react, or hear clearly. As people come and go, the day stretches on—leading to the inevitable end of the gathering.
Project Creator: HSU Chih-Yen
Key Collaborators: Kaohsiung Film Archive, Hsu Chih Yen Director Studios, Funique VR Studio
Cinema360 Program 4: Pure Imagination
Stories of innovation and illusion, with a healthy dose of inspiration.
“Lutaw” (World Premiere) — USA, Philippines
Like so many others in her remote area of the Philippines, Geramy must swim between the small islands in order to travel to the nearest school. But she’s determined to find a better way to commute. This 3D animated experience is made in partnership with Oculus VR for Good and Yellow Boat of Hope.
Project Creator: Samantha Quick
Key Collaborator: Michaela Holland
“Attack on Daddy” (North American Premiere) — South Korea
It’s Sunday afternoon and an exhausted daddy lies on the couch. Annoyed with his daughter’s pestering pleas to play, he falls asleep and wakes up to find her missing. Sensing something awry, daddy quickly realizes that the answer to the mystery lies in her seemingly abandoned dollhouse.
Project Creator: Sung Sihup
“Tale of the Tibetan Nomad” (World Premiere) — USA
A newlywed nomad and his wife bask in the flush of new love. He falls asleep then awakens to discover his wife has disappeared. Embarking on a quest to find her, he’s led into a life he never dreamed of—one that soon slips beyond his control.
Project Creator: Carol Liu
Key Collaborator: Stan Lai
“Upstander” (World Premiere) — USA
“Upstander” is a 360 animated experience about bullying and how we, as bystanders, can make a difference. Immersing the audience in a world adjacent to our own, you are challenged to think and take action. How can we be part of the solution and not be part of the problem?
Project Creator: Van Phan
Key Collaborator: Oculus VR for Good
More Online Programming from the Festival
Along with the Tribeca Film Festival Cinema360 event, there will be additional online programming – some for the local audience in NYC and other segments for the global audience. ComingSoon lists the online initiatives:
- Tribeca Immersive’s Cinema360 – publicly available, consumer-focused and accessible on Oculus TV, Oculus Go and Oculus Quest starting April 17.
- Jury and Art Awards – winners for all categories, including Tribeca X, will be announced via tribecafilm.com within the window of the original festival dates.
- N.O.W. Creators Market – private industry-only online market that brings together storytellers to pitch new projects to a wide-range of industry executives
- Industry Extranet Resource Hub – industry-facing access to select films and programs
- Tribeca X Awards – finalists will be showcased publicly on www.tribecafilm.com as of Friday, April 3
- A Short Film a Day Keeps Anxiety Away – a daily curated online short film series featuring select award-winning shorts and online premieres from multiple Tribeca alumni
- Soundtrack Sunday – live performances and celebrity soundtrack selections happening across Tribeca social media channels
- #TribecaTakeoutChallenge – an Instagram call-to-action campaign to inspire people to support their local restaurants while watching their favorite film.
360 Video Films
We’ll have more commentary and reviews when the Tribeca Film Festival Cinema360 is broadcast online. Check back and let us know if you find one or more of the films particularly effective as immersive storytelling.
While canceled film festivals are just more bad news in seemingly endless weeks of bad news, they are especially challenging for the artists who worked so hard to get to this point. Please take a moment beginning April 17th to check out some amazing 360 videos.
It’s up to us to join together and support their pioneering work.
Emory Craig is a VR consultant, writer, and speaker with years of experience in art, new media, and higher education. He is actively engaged in innovative developments for AR and VR at the intersection of learning, games, and immersive storytelling. He is fascinated by virtual worlds, AI-driven avatars, and the ethical implications of blurring the boundaries between the real and the virtual.