If you thought that the Venice Film Festival had lost its relevance, think again. The oldest film festival in the world embraces the future of cinema by hosting the biggest and boldest presentation of virtual reality ever seen at any film festival. And they do it in a way that only Venice can – with an immaculate sense of style and aplomb. The main big news is that Venice will dedicate an abandoned island in the lagoon to the presentation of the world’s best VR productions.

The first edition of Venice VR last year was a total blast. The best VR pieces in the world were presented on an abandoned island in the Venetian lagoon – it really doesn’t get much better. So the expectations for 2018 are high. Will Venice be able to live up to it? Venice programmers Michel Reilhac and Liz Rosenthal, who selected the 30 VR films in competition, guide us through their selection, and discuss this year’s challenges and trends…standing

Last year was a success, but it was also a surprise. It was the first edition. No one had anything to compare it with. (Reilhac)

Program at a glance

Michel Reilhac: “The exhibition is divided in different areas. Like last year, there will be the VR theater with 50 revolving leather seats. There will be the installations, and there will be stand-ups. And like last year, there is a ‘Best Of’ section, which will feature six VR films selected from the best VR that was presented since Venice VR 2017. These are not eligible for the competition. There will be four films from the Venice Biennale College; Venice’s talent development program. That makes 40 VR pieces that will be available in Venice this year.”

Liz Rosenthal: “Our selection also demonstrates that we’re starting to see a number of well-known actors and artists starring in VR works for example Oprah Winfrey, John Legend, Tye Sheridan, Diego Luna in the family entertainment animation Crow: The Legend; Alicia Vikander in Arden’s Wake: Tides Fall; Rosario Dawson in Battlescar; and Jessica Chastain and Patti Smith in Spheres.”

Venice is still the only A-list international festival who is embracing VR as a full-fledged art form.

“Out of 30 projects in competition, 11 have been directed by women and a significant number of female producers were responsible for the overall development, management and commercialisation of the projects showing in Venice.”

Some of the VR Films are :

Jonathan Astruc / Backlight, Virtual Adventure
Animation / France / installation / 35’

The Unknown Patient
Dir. Michael Beets / Unwritten Endings, VRTOV
Animation / Australia / HTC Vive / 9’ / Stand up

Half Life VR – Short version
Robert Connor / Royal Swedish Opera
Linear VR Film / Sweden / 12′ / VR Theater

find out more at: VENICE BIENNALE CINEMA VR – August 2018