Slate of VR films to air at Sundance Film Festival
Virtual reality films will form a central pillar of Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier section in 2017. Live performances, a feature film and augmented reality experiences will complement a total of 20 VR experiences and 11 installations, showcased between three venues in Park City between January 19-29.
The historic Claim Jumper will host seven immersive installations focused on cross-disciplinary story construction and two video works; the VR Palace will feature 15 VR experiences alongside additional installations; and the VR Bar will offer a line-up of mobile VR. Three projects are part of the Festival’s The New Climate program, which highlights the environment and climate change. More New Frontier projects will be announced in the coming weeks.
Robert Redford, president and founder of Sundance Institute, said: “Every year, more artists are drawn to the vanguard of art and technology: independent, creative storytellers have more tools to break the mold than ever before. For the last decade-plus, New Frontier’s vision has evolved and grown with this expanding palette, to curate and showcase the most exciting new work made with the latest advances.”
Shari Frilot, Sundance Film Festival senior programmer and chief curator, New Frontier, said, “In an era that has recalibrated economies, redefined social realms and rewired the connection between the individual and the world, we must also re-imagine what it is to be human. Through Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and various crafted immersive experiences, New Frontier this year challenges the very nature of perception and what we consider to be ‘reality.’”
Through New Frontier’s history, Sundance Institute has been at the forefront of new media storytelling. New Frontier alumni include Doug Aitken, James Franco, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Chris Milk, Nonny de la Peña, Pipilotti Rist and Jennifer Steinkamp.
VR films at Sundance
ASTEROIDS! / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Eric Darnell) — From the director of Madagascar comes Baobab’s VR animation. Journey the cosmos aboard the spaceship of Mac and Cheez, an alien duo so mission-focused they forget what’s important in life. It’s up to you to show them what really matters. Cast: Elizabeth Banks.
Chasing Coral: The VR Experience / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Jeff Orlowski) — Zackary Rago, a passionate scuba diver and researcher, documented the unprecedented 2016 coral bleaching event at Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef with this exclusive underwater VR experience. THE NEW CLIMATE
Chocolate / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Tyler Hurd) — This VR experience for the song “Chocolate” by Giraffage sets you in a cat-centric world of sparkling, colorful chrome with a tribe of people doing a ritualistic dance just for you, their robot god, to provide them with their precious resource, cute lil’ chrome kitties.
Dear Angelica / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Saschka Unseld, Key Collaborators: Angela Petrella, Wesley Allsbrook, Maxwell Planck, Ryan Thomas) — This project is a journey through the magical and dreamlike ways we remember lost ones and, even though they are gone, what remains of the ones we loved. Cast: Geena Davis, Mae Whitman.
Hue / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Nicole McDonald, Key Collaborators: KC Austin) — This is an immersive and visually driven interactive film about a man who has lost the ability to see color. Participants reawaken the protagonist’s sense of wonder and imagination through empathetic action as color and connection return to his world view. Cast: David Strathairn, Benedikt Negro.
If Not Love / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Rose Troche, Key Collaborator: Bruce Allan) — A conflicted Christian man carries out a mass shooting. In his past: a same-sex hookup and self-loathing. What if events had unfolded differently? What if his partner had convinced him to face himself? Could that simple act change the course of history? Cast: Zachary Booth, Mitchell Winter.
Life of Us / U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Chris Milk and Aaron Koblin with music by Pharrell Williams, Key Collaborators: Megan Ellison, McKenzie Stubbert, Jona Dinges) — This shared VR journey tells the complete story of the evolution of life on Earth.
Melting Ice / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Danfung Dennis) — Al Gore takes viewers on a transcendent exploration into the devastating consequences of climate change on Greenland’s ice sheet. Stand under collapsing glaciers, next to raging rivers of ice melt and witness rising sea levels—all visceral warnings of our planet’s future. Cast: Al Gore, Dr. Konrad Steffen. NEW CLIMATE
Mindshow / U.S.A.(Lead Artists: Gil Baron, Jonnie Ross, Adam Levin, Key Collaborators: Jonnie Ross, Gil Baron) — Make VR cartoons with your body and voice. Teleport into different characters and act out all the parts. Create with your friends by passing scenes back and forth, then share your shows in VR and on social media. Cast: Dana Gould.
Miyubi / Canada (Lead Artists: Félix Lajeunesse, Paul Raphaël, Key Collaborator: Owen Burke) — Experience love and obsolescence as a Japanese toy robot, gifted to a child in the home of a fractured family in 1982 suburban America. Cast: Jeff Goldblum, P.J. Byrne, Emily Bergl, Owen Vaccaro, Richard Riehle, Ted Sutherland, Tatum Kensington Bailey.
Orbital Vanitas / Australia (Lead Artist: Shaun Gladwell, Key Collaborator: Leo Faber, ) — This virtual reality experience presents a surreal sci-fi mystery and meditation on death. Initially placed in Earth’s orbit, participants soon notice an enigmatic form floating toward them. What takes place next makes perfect use of the VR format.
Out of Exile: Daniel’s Story / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Nonny de la Peña) — In August 2014, Daniel Ashley Pierce’s family verbally and physically accosted him before kicking him out of the house because they disapproved of his sexuality. Built directly around audio Daniel recorded from that encounter, this project includes thoughts of hope and triumph from Daniel and three other LGBTQ youth. Cast: Daniel Ashley Pierce, Kyle Wills, Julene Renee, Cyntia Domenzain, Angel VanStark, Phoebe VanCleefe.
The Sky is a Gap / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Rachel Rossin) — The viewer is allowed to precisely move time with space by the use of a positionally tracked headset. Existing in the physical and virtual realms, the installation depicts a pyroclastic explosion inspired by Zabriskie Point, where the scene’s progress is physically mapped to the participant’s forward and backward movement.
Through You / U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Saschka Unseld, Lily Baldwin) — Dance is used to inhabit a common mortal story of love born, lived, lost, burned and seemingly gone forever—only to be found again. Cast: Joanna Kotze, Amari Cheatom, Marni Thomas Wood.
Tree / U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Milica Zec, Winslow Porter, Key Collaborators: Aleksandar Protic, Jacob Kudsk Steensen) — This virtual experience transforms you into a rainforest tree. With your arms as the branches and body as the trunk, you experience the tree’s growth from a seedling to its fullest form and witness its fate firsthand. THE NEW CLIMATE
Zero Days VR / U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Scatter, Yasmin Elayat, Elie Zananiri, Key Collaborators: Mei-Ling Wong, Alexander Porter, James George) — The story of a clandestine mission hatched by the U.S. and Israel to sabotage an underground Iranian nuclear facility told from the perspective of Stuxnet, a sophisticated cyber weapon, and a key NSA informant. Audiences experience the high stakes of cyber warfare placed inside the invisible world of computer viruses. Cast: Joanne Tucker, Eric Chien, Liam O’Murchu, Ralph Langner, Olli Heinonen, David Sanger.
The Sundance Institute New Frontier program is supported by Cindy Harrell Horn and Alan Horn, Lyn and Norman Lear, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Time Warner Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Oculus Story Studio, Nokia OZO, Comcast Ventures, The Fledgling Fund, and David E. Quinney III.