New competition for virtual-reality films at 74 Venice Film Festival

Biennale di Venezia has announced the first-ever competition for films made in virtual reality (VR), set to take place during the 74th Venice International Film Festival (30 August–9 September 2017), directed by Alberto Barbera.

The competition – named Venice Virtual Reality – will present up to a maximum of 18 VR films, and will be held from 31 August-5 September at the VR Theatre (Palazzo del Casinò, Lido di Venezia).

The Venice International Film Festival was one of the first festivals in the world to express an interest in virtual reality. The construction of a VR Theatre in 2016 and the screening of a series of experimental short films, including the world-premiere presentation of the first feature-length VR film (Jesus VR by David Hansen), aroused enormous interest among the participants in the Venice Production Bridge and the many viewers at the festival.

As a contribution to the recognition of virtual reality as an emerging art form, La Biennale di Venezia has therefore recognised the importance of supporting the authors who choose to adopt this modern technology and use it as a new means of artistic expression, and has decided that the time is ripe to establish this first competition.

Last January, La Biennale launched the first edition of the Biennale College Cinema – Virtual Reality, with the aim of selecting nine teams composed of a director and a producer, who will work on the development of virtual-reality projects lasting between 10 and 20 minutes, supporting them along the way throughout every aspect of the creative process, the production and the process of building an audience, identifying target markets and finding funding. Biennale College Cinema – Virtual Reality is made possible with the support of grants from the Creative Europe-Support for Training programme and the Netherlands Film Fund, and enjoys a collaboration with the TorinoFilmLab.

The nine projects selected for this first edition (director/producer) are:

Chromatica – Flavio Costa (Italy)/Laura Catalano (Italy)
Dinner Party – Angel Soto (Puerto Rico)/Charlotte Stoudt (USA)
Ice Cave – Maja Friis (Denmark)/Sara Namer (Denmark)
Dilemma – Camille Duvelleroy (France)/Laurent Duret (France)
Matryoshka Mon Amore – Nir Saar (Israel)/Kevin Molloy (UK)
Spomenik – Ivan Knezevic (Serbia)/Mirko Topalski (Serbia)
The Warship – Erika del Mundo (Philippines)/Jack Weinstein (USA)
The Little Black Pawn – Quentin de Cagny (France)/Francois Bouille (France)
The Neighbour – Romero Rudolf Borgar (the Netherlands)/Esther Rots (the Netherlands)

Of the nine projects that will be developed during the workshop, two VR projects will receive a contribution towards production of €30,000 each thanks to the support of the Sony Corporation, and will subsequently be presented at the 74th Venice International Film Festival.

The remaining seven projects will be given enhanced visibility during the Venice Production Bridge, as an integral part of the activities of the Gap Financing Market. For the second year in a row, the Market of the Venice Production Bridge will present a further eight VR projects at an advanced stage of development. There will therefore be a total of 15 VR projects currently under development presented by the Biennale di Venezia.

For the upcoming 74th Venice International Film Festival, the VR Theatre will be set up again, with dedicated individual viewing stations for VR films and three interactive stations, to screen 18 VR films selected for the Venice Virtual Reality Competition, two films funded by the Biennale College Cinema – Virtual Reality and previous work made by the eight teams selected for the Venice Production Bridge. The VR Theatre will be operational from 31 August-5 September, on the first floor of the Palazzo del Casinò, concurrently with the second edition of the Venice Production Bridge.