Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you were blind? Or how intensely lonely it'd be to live in solitary confinement? Maybe you're a horror movie fanatic who'd love to test your survival skills during an actual, machete-whizzing-past-your-face slasher movie sequence. Or you're one of the millions of people who watch Game of Thrones and wish they, too, could fly on a dragon's back, like the ever-badass Daenerys Targaryen. But even if you aren't jealous of the almighty Khaleesi, you've surely daydreamed about joining forces with cuddly little bunnies to stop a potentially cataclysmic alien invasion. Because obviously.
Two months from now, you'll be able to do all of that and more inside one venue: the Tribeca Festival Hub.
As wildly varied as those situations may seem, they all share a common through-line: They're just a few of the many experiential storytelling options that you'll find inside the Tribeca Festival Hub as part of the 15th Tribeca Film Festival, taking place April 13-24. After making its debut at last year’s Festival, the Hub, located at 50 Varick Street, will once again be Tribeca's epicenter for innovation. From April 14-23, the Hub will host 23 VR exhibits and interactive installations, including 15 world premieres. The Featured Creator this year is Félix & Paul Studios, and its founders, Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël, will be on-site at the Hub for the Virtual Arcade and present a virtual reality activation on Imagination Day (April 19).
"Tribeca has always celebrated the most exciting new forms of storytelling, from video games to virtual reality," said Jane Rosenthal, co-founder Tribeca Film Festival and Executive Chair of Tribeca Enterprises. "This year’s program, which you can touch and feel at our amazing Festival Hub at Spring Studios, features the most dynamic work to date at the intersection of story and technology. We're committed to giving the independent artists we support the best stage to share their mind-blowing work with audiences."
Are you a fiction-loving cinephile? Thanks to Tribeca's first-ever Virtual Arcade, dedicated to user-friendly VR filmmaking, you'll get to inhabit a beautifully rendered animated world above the clouds (Allumette), cruise through the streets of South Central, Los Angeles, in the backseat of a convertible (Hard World for Small Things), and watch Ian Ziering chop through a monster with a huge machete with the help of Sharknado overseer Anthony C. Ferrante (Killer Deal). You're more into documentaries, though? Breathe easy, because Tribeca's fourth annual Storyscapes program features immersive VR looks and video installations exploring police brutality (The Argus Project), how millennials process whiteness and the need for racial acceptance (Intersection of I), and the efforts being made to save the last three living white rhinos from extinction (The Ark).
"Our experiential program is what happens when artists create wildly different adventures that go outside traditional methods. Here, stories are not passively watched, they are actually 'experienced'—you are a participant," said Genna Terranova, Festival Director. "Today, virtual reality offers a new landscape for creating worlds and stories. At its best it can be a powerful vehicle for magically transportive explorations that test the limits of our imaginations and psyches."
The 2016 Tribeca Film Festival's innovation blowout will kick off via Storyscapes, with 10 VR and interactive installations competing for a juried award and on display April 14-17. On April 16, the fifth annual TFI Interactive will gather the world’s foremost media, gaming, and tech minds for an all-day forum. And from April 18-23, Tribeca will launch its Virtual Arcade, a showcase of documentary and narrative virtual reality projects touching on music, gaming, and journalism.
Hacked by DEF CON and MR. ROBOT will bring the world's largest underground hacking conference back to Tribeca on April 15-17, following the 2015 Festival’s inaugural DEF CON program—this year, it’s sponsored by the USA Network's hacker-minded hit show Mr. Robot. And lastly, the Games for Change Games and Media Summit, scheduled for April 18, will offer up the next wave of forward-thinking and socially conscious video games.
Festival Hub Passes are available now to the general public and provide a hands-on opportunity to experience the best in entertainment and its collision with technology. Passes are currently on sale for $399.00 here at tribecafilm.com. Single tickets for each program will go on sale March 29, 2016.
Here’s the section-by-section breakdown of all things innovation that you’ll find inside the Tribeca Festival Hub. To say that it’s "stacked" would be a serious understatement.
Storyscapes projects at the 2016 Festival, open April 14-17, feature both installations and VR. The program includes projects that grapple with issues of racism, violence and harm inflicted on our planet, combining the excitement of these new immersive mediums tempered with the urgency of a world on fire. It is in turns thrilling, upsetting, shocking, and wonderful, much like the world we live in.
"This year’s Storyscapes offerings are a reflection of today’s world. We live in a very charged period—from the political landscape to unprecedented violence—and the Storyscapes installations are compelling and engaging experiences that balance some of the sobering issues facing society, as well as inspiring and
wonderful ones," said Ingrid Kopp, Storyscapes curator.
One project will be selected by a jury to receive the Storyscapes Award, which recognizes groundbreaking approaches in storytelling and technology. The 2016 Storyscapes selections include:
• The Ark (World Premiere)
Project Creators: Jongsma + O’Neill (Eline Jongsma and Kel O’Neill)
Key Collaborators: Springbok Entertainment
The northern white rhinoceros is the most endangered animal on the planet. Only three remain, and they are protected at all times by armed bodyguards. The Ark is a virtual reality documentary that puts viewers face-to-face with the last northern white rhinos, and tells the story of the global coalition scientists who are fighting to rescue the species from extinction.
• DEEP VR (North American Premiere)
Project Creators: Owen Harris and Niki Smit
Key Collaborators: Cinekid, Paradoxical Recordings, Bryan Duggan
DEEP VR is a meditative and psychoactive VR experience, controlled by the player’s breathing. Discover a beautiful underwater seascape where the world challenges, surprises, and comforts. Explore the ways in which VR can change our relationship with both body and mind.
• Notes on Blindness: Into Darkness
Project Creators: Arnaud Colinart, Amaury La Burthe, Peter Middleton, James Spinney
After losing his sight in 1983, John Hull began recording an audio-diary documenting his discovery of "a world beyond sight." John's original recordings form the basis of this interactive experience, which uses real time 3D, virtual reality, and binaural sound to explore the interior world of blindness. (This project is a 2015 Tribeca Film Institute New Media Fund grantee.)
• SENS (World Premiere)
Project Creators: Charles Ayats, Armand Lemarchand, and Marc-Antoine Mathieu
Key Collaborators: Calcumentor, Franck Weber
SENS is the first project to adapt a graphic novel into a virtual reality. It is also a beautifully universal experience that works without words. The game invites you to a trip through a graphic maze: all around you are arrows in ever-changing shapes, showing you the way. Where will it lead you? (Ayats served as the designer of Climate Anxiety at Tribeca Hacks <Story Matter>
• The Turning Forest (World Premiere)
Project Creator: Oscar Raby
Key Collaborators: BBC R&D and S3A, and Shelley Silas
In a land that never was and a time that could never be, a boy stared into the eyes of a fantastical creature. Around them, a magical forest; in front of them, a magical journey. The Turning Forest is a real-time CG VR experience for people young and old--inviting audiences into a magical space of imagination, where rustling leaves are also the footsteps of something familiar, yet strange. In this place, things are not quite what they seem.
• 6X9: An Immersive Experience of Solitary Confinement
Project Creators: The Guardian’s Francesca Panetta and Lindsay Poulton
Key Collaborator: The Mill
Right now, 80,000-100,000 people are in solitary confinement in the US. They spend 22-24 hours a day in their cells, with little to no human contact for days or even decades. The sensory deprivation they endure causes severe psychological damage. These people are invisible to us—and eventually to themselves. (This is a virtual reality project featured as an installation for the first time. It is also a 2016 TFI New Media Fund grantee.)
• The Argus Project
Project Creators: Gan Golan, Raquel de Anda, Julien Terrell, Ligaiya Romero
A 2016 TFI New Media Fund grantee, The Argus Project is a trans-media project that directly intersects the public debate over police accountability. At the center stands a suit of tactical counter-surveillance armor embedded with body cameras that offers a simple question: “If the police wear body armor to protect themselves while in public, what must “The Public” wear to protect themselves from the police?" Video projections surround the suit featuring former officers, activists, and family members directly impacted by police violence, creating a space for a real conversation on police violence—one that our country desperately needs.
• Intersection of I (World Premiere)
Project Creator: Whitney Dow
Key Collaborators: John Kudos, Ada Tolla, Giuseppe Lignano, Michelle Byrd
Intersection of I is an immersive video installation, part of Whitney Dow's ongoing Whiteness Project, which is a 2015 TFI New Media Fund grantee. It combines video, data visualization, and interactivity to explore how millennials who identify as white, or partially white, process their racial identity.
• Network Effect
Project Creators: Jonathan Harris and Gregor Hochmuth
Network Effect explores the psychological effect of Internet use on humanity. Like the Internet itself, the project is effectively endless, containing video clips, spoken sentences, news, tweets, charts, graphs, lists, and millions of individual data points. The result is a voyeuristic and unnerving experience about our over-stimulated digital lives.
• Seances (World Premiere)
Project Creator: Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson
Seances, co-created with the National Film Board of Canada, presents a wholly new way of experiencing film narrative. By dynamically generating a series of film sequences in unique configurations, potentially hundreds of thousands of new stories will be conjured by code. Each will exist only in the moment—no pausing, scrubbing or sharing—offering the audience one chance to see this film.
Virtual Arcade debuts at the 2016 Festival, helping to expand the immersive entertainment slate with nine additional VR experiences from some of the leading creators and emerging voices in this new medium. The selections, available April 18-20, include:
ALLUMETTE (World Premiere)
Project Creators: Eugene Chung, Jimmy Maidens, Penrose Studios
An orphan girl, living in a fantastical city in clouds, endures tragedy. Lighting enchanted matches, she relives her past and grasps at future hope. The story is a meditation on the sacrifices people make for the greater good. Crafted by Penrose Studios, ALLUMETTE is set in a fully immersive, virtual reality world.
• THE ARTIST OF SKID ROW (World Premiere)
Project Creator: Molly Swenson, Tyson Sadler, Hayley Pappas/RYOT
Key Collaborators: Bryn Mooser, LAMP
Ramiro Puentes is an outstanding artist—photographs, paintings, sculpture, poetry. But more than that, he’s risen from crippling poverty and used art to reimagine the streets of Skid Row.
• ASHES (World Premiere)
Project Creator: Jessica Kantor/supported by Vrideo
Playing with movement, space and time, ASHES shares the tragic story of two lovers, told specifically for 360-headset environment. Director/Producer Jessica Kantor draws upon her classical ballet training to bring us this unique piece inspired by choreographer Pina Bausch, known for telling stories through dance.
• The Crystal Reef (World Premiere)
Project Creator: Cody Karutz and Lauren Knapp/Stanford University
Key Collaborator: Jeremy Bailenson
A rocky reef off the coast of Italy demonstrates the future of climate change. Meet Dr. Fio Micheli, the marine scientist who studies this reef, and dive underwater with her to learn about ocean acidification and how human-produced carbon dioxide will turn all the world’s oceans into what scientists are calling “the ocean moonscape.”
• The Crystal Reef: Interactive (World Premiere)
Project Creator: The Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL)
Key Collaborator: Stanford University
Experience climate change firsthand in this fully immersive virtual reality experience. Use your hands to swim and examine marine life as you become a scientist and discover "ocean acidification." Dive through a digital replica of the reefs of Ischia, Italy and learn about how these reefs are a "crystal ball" that show the future of all the world’s oceans.
• DRAGONFLIGHT (World Premiere)
Project Creators: Michael Conelly, Will Telford, Keith Goldfarb, Lyndon Barrois/Blackthorn Media
A spectacular dragon embarks on a hero’s journey to do battle against a duplicitous sorcerer and protect the world from the second coming of his ancient and powerful progenitor. DRAGONFLIGHT is the debut project of VR studio Blackthorn Media, an Academy and Emmy Award-winning team of story-tellers, visual effects veterans, programmers and artists.
• HARD WORLD FOR SMALL THINGS (NY Premiere)
Project Creator: Janicza Bravo/WEVR
Key Collaborators: Wevr, Seed&Spark, Han West
Award-winning film and theater director Janicza Bravo ventures into the world of VR with an exploration of the circumstances and lives affected by a single tragedy in Los Angeles. Drawing from a real-life experience, Bravo and studio collaborators WEVR craft a remarkably powerful narrative that culminates in a devastating conclusion.
• HOLIDAYS: CHRISTMAS VR (World Premiere)
Project Creators: Distant Corners, Scott Stewart, Amanda Mortimer, Gabriela Revilla Lugo, WEVR
When a man stoops to dangerous new lows to get his son the ultimate VR headset for Christmas, he finds out more about himself and his family than he ever wanted to know. From writer/director Scott Stewart (Legion, Priest) and starring Emmy Award-winning actor Seth Green and Clare Grant, CHRISTMAS is part of Distant Corners' HOLIDAYS anthology feature created by John Hegeman and produced in association with XYZ Films.
• INVASION! (World Premiere)
Project Creator: Eric Darnell. Maureen Fan/Baobab Studios
Directed by Eric Darnell (Antz, Madagascar), this interactive and animated film follows menacing aliens with vastly superior technology who come to claim the Earth and destroy anyone in their way. Despite incredible odds, Earth's citizens rise up and defeat the evil aliens. Surprisingly, these Earthly citizens are not humans but a pair of the cutest, meekest and cuddliest creatures of our planet: two fluffy white bunnies.
• KANJU (World Premiere)
Project Creator: Stephanie Riggs/Azimyth Creation Studios
Key Collaborator: The Nantucket Project, Harbers Studios
Journey across Africa in search of Kanju, “creativity born of struggle.” Visit a floating school rising from the slums of Makoko. Witness President Obama's historic speech in Nairobi from the press pit. This uplifting, immersive documentary seamlessly layers traditional narrative techniques and 360° live action. Feel the power of storytelling merged with technology and rediscover Africa as the bright continent.
• KILLER DEAL (World Premiere)
Project Creators: Irad Eyal, Aaron Rothman, Anthony C. Ferrante, iMan Productions, Better VR Studios
Key Collaborator: Ian Ziering
Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante (Sharknado 1, 2 & 3), Killer Deal follows a struggling machete salesman who runs into trouble when his discount hotel room comes with an unwelcome guest. A very unwelcome guest. The experience takes all the things we love about over-the-top horror and puts the viewer right in the middle of the "splash zone."
• My Mother’s Wing
Project Creators: Gabo Arora, Ari Palitz/Vrse.works
Key Collaborators: Chris Milk, Patrick Milling Smith, Samantha Storr
In Gaza, foundations are built, destroyed, and built again. This virtual reality experience follows the struggle and strength of a mother coping with the death of her two children in the 2014 war.
Old Friend (U.S. Premiere)
Project Creator: Tyler Hurd/WEVR
Lose yourself in a vibrant psychedelic dance party brimming with joyful insanity. VR filmmaker Tyler Hurd and WEVR present a fun animated VR music video experience for Old Friend by Future Islands. Gaze upon the elegant dance routines and enjoy the blissful absurdity. Unhinge yourself, feel the ridiculousness and dance like everyone is watching.
• Grateful Dead: Truckin’
Project Creator: Jaunt VR
Key Collaborators: Ryan Wiederkehr, Patrick Meegan, Joey Santana, Dennis “Wiz” Leonard, Cliff Plumer
A sneak peek VR experience of the Grateful Dead's historic 'Fare Thee Wells" final tour. Mixed in Dolby Atmos, the audience is given unprecedented access to the bands performance of the hit song "Truckin'," from a vantage that is otherwise impossible to experience.
Project Creator: Lynette Wallworth
Key Collaborators: Nyarri Morgan (featured); Nicole Newnham (producer); Curtis Taylor (narrator); Karryn de Cinque (editor); Patrick Meegan (director of photography); Jaunt VR
From acclaimed Australian artist/filmmaker Lynette Wallworth, Collisions is a virtual reality journey to the homeland of indigenous elder Nyarri Morgan and the Martu tribe in the Western Australian desert. It explores the dramatic collision between Nyarri's traditional world view and the cutting edge of Western science and technology, when he witnessed firsthand and with no context, an atomic test.
• The Click Effect
Project Creators: Sandy Smolan, James Nestor
Key Collaborators: Annapurna Pictures, Vrse, Vrse.works, The New York Times Op-Docs, The Sundance Institute
Free-dive one hundred feet below the ocean’s surface to discover the “click” communication of dolphins and sperm whales. The Click Effect is a live-action VR experience from Annapurna Pictures, Vrse.works, Sandy Smolan, and James Nestor and the first in a series of immersive journalism experiments commissioned by New Frontier at Sundance Institute, published by The New York Times Op-Docs.
• PERSPECTIVE 2: THE MISDEMEANOR
Project Creators: Rose Troche, Morris May
Key Collaborators: Amy Lo, Charles Ottoway
When two young men are stopped by a police officer in Brooklyn, a simple misdemeanor spirals out of control. A gripping drama shot live-action in 360 degrees and weaving between four distinct points-of-view, The Misdemeanor highlights the subjectivity of memory and personal experience with an ambitious approach to narrative storytelling in virtual reality.
• Seeking Pluto’s Frigid Heart
Project Creators: The New York Times
Key Collaborators: Lunar Planetary Institute, Universities Space Research Association
Seeking Pluto’s Frigid Heart is a stereoscopic VR experience that brings viewers to Pluto. Watch the New Horizons spacecraft zoom through space, soar over rugged mountains and bright plains, and stand on Pluto’s unique surface as its largest moon hovers over the horizon.
HACKED by DEF CON and MR. ROBOT, returns to the Festival this year on April 15-17, sponsored by USA Network’s Golden Globe® Award winning series MR. ROBOT. Started by The Dark Tangent, also known as computer and internet security expert Jeff Moss, DEF CON has grown into the world's biggest underground hacking conference.
Inspired by film and current events, festival goers will be invited to explore and participate in hack-type scenarios to further illustrate the importance of understanding technology, surveillance and digital security within our society. The event will feature six villages: hands-on, public-facing workshops and activities, including Social Engineering and BioHacking Villages, which are new to the Festival, and the return of Lock Picking, Tamper-Evident, Hardware Hacking and the Crypto & Privacy Villages. The collaborative program will also include panels that will tackle the authentic representation of hacker culture, tools, and techniques within film and TV.
GAMES FOR CHANGE
Games for Change continues its partnership with Tribeca Film Festival for the third year, hosting the Games and Media Summit. The day-long event on April 18 will feature gaming innovators and industry voices leading the charge in shaping the way we feel, play, work and interact with games, technology and media. With a hands-on arcade as well as talks, panels and demos, the summit will spotlight new possibilities for impact through virtual reality, biofeedback, augmented reality, wearables, and more. Additionally, the Games and Media Summit will also feature its first-ever Charity Game-a-thon. In partnership with 3BlackDot, two of the top YouTube gaming celebrities, Tom Syndicate and Captain Sparklez, will play video games to raise money for GameChanger Charity, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to positively impact the lives of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses through video games.
Confirmed speakers include: Adam Gazzaley M.D., Ph.D. (director, Neuroscience Imaging Center), Yoni Bloch (co-founder and president, Interlude), Catherine Devine (Chief Digital Officer at AMNH), Amy Robinson (creative director, Eyewire), Dirk Van Dall (Vice President of Multimedia Strategy, Major League Baseball), and Dan Gray (Executive Producer & Studio Head, Ustwo Games).