DIFF makes date with Virtual Reality; luxurious lineup of VR films for audiences

Dubai International Film Festival will make a date with Virtual Reality (VR) as it is going to showcase various films which will take the audience on a journey of 360-degree 3D audio-visual cinema. DIFF will present 10 immersive films during the entire festival, starting from December 6 and to continue till December 13.

These VR films will be screened at the dedicated du VR Cinema, located within the Festival headquarters at the Madinat Jumeriah, events and conference centre.

'The Last Chair' is a VR documentary about the final stages of life.
'The Last Chair' is a VR documentary about the final stages of life. Photo courtesy: DIFF

Abdulhamid Juma, DIFF’s Chairman, said, “Each edition of DIFF, we strive to innovate and inspire, and with the inception of the VR showcase in 2016 it gave us a whole new avenue to explore. This year we are welcoming some truly incredible ‘DIFFerent’ films that will go beyond the wildest imaginations of our audiences.”

The first film in the line-up include ‘The Last Chair’ from directors Anke Teunissen, and Jessie van Vreden, a VR documentary about the final stages of life. With a mix of 360-degree video, audio and animation, audiences will be thrust into the shoes of two separate narratives; the first is the daily life of Fred, a terminally ill ex-hippie living a solitary existence in France, and the second is an elderly man whose life plays out from the chair in which he spends most of his time. Both immersive projects look back on a life lived and the impending demise of the two protagonists.

VR film ‘The Committee’ is set in the fictional town of Middleswick in England.
VR film ‘The Committee’ is set in the fictional town of Middleswick in England. Photo courtesy: DIFF

The second VR film ‘The Committee’, from Czech director Mike Samir, is set in the fictional town of Middleswick, a piece of England where everything is just perfect. After an elderly resident paints her house pink, the impeccable town invariably descends into chaos. Putting audiences at the centre of the film, ‘The Committee’ puts you in the shoes of a town committee member as tempers flare and hilarity ensues whilst debating the matter of the rebellious resident.

Dreams of Blue’ is a 360-degree stereoscopic immersive video experience from Italian director Valentina Piaggarin. The film is a real mind-bending journey into the conscious of an Artificial Intelligence (AI). The project exploits the amazing characteristics of a VR environment and shares a profound narrative about an AI that becomes self-conscious and self-aware, and reflects on the meaning of life using information extrapolated from the internet.

The film Leggenda is a vibrant spectacle in Virtual Reality.
The film 'Leggenda' is a vibrant spectacle in Virtual Reality. Photo courtesy: DIFF

French director Leslie Levi’s ‘Leggenda’ brings  a marvellous and evocative universe of music and thrilling acrobatics.  Brought to life through the eyes of two circus performers and a piano-violin duo, this elegant, emotion-filled performance will capture the hearts of audiences with Levi’s Concert Digital 360-VR concept that shares music, dance and a vibrant spectacle in VR.

Independent filmmaker and journalist Emiliano Ruprah brings to DIFF his 360-degree war documentary for its world premiere, ‘War Tourist’, a first-hand look at the offensive to retake Mosul shot over the course of a few days during the heat of battle.

From ESEC film school graduate Alexandre Perez comes the VR short ‘Sergeant James’, which centres on the perennial battle between a child (James), his bedtime and the unknown under his bed. Is it just the harmless imagination of a young boy, or is there something more to James’ fear? Alexandre Perez explores the innocence of youth, the folly fear and the terrifying mystery that lurks in the shadows.

The ten-minute VR film ‘Bloodless’ from Gina Kim, an experienced South Korean director, deals with a poignant tale of a real-life sex worker murdered by a US soldier in 1992. Set in the Dungducheon Camptown in South Korea, the film traces the last living moments of the sex-worker and brings to light the ongoing experiences at the 96 camp towns around the US military bases.

In a concoction of animation and live-action footage, Extravaganza, the latest work from Ethan Shaftel, combines the two elements in a bitingly funny satire that places you in the shoes of a puppet.

Ray is an interactive experience that allows audiences to interact with the whimsical beam of light using voice recognition and gestures.
'Ray' is an interactive experience that allows audiences to interact with the whimsical beam of light using voice recognition and gestures. Photo courtesy: DIFF

'Ray', the VR short curated by filmmaker and creative director of Future Lighthouse Rafael Pavon, narrates the fairy-tale of a young girl, Lucy, with mighty dreams, and a nosy beam of light called Ray who comes to play with her. Ray is an interactive experience that allows audiences to interact with the whimsical beam of light using voice recognition and gestures, a true a show of technological triumph and innovation.

Experienced Lebanese filmmaker and cinematographer Kamel Harb showcases his first VR project at DIFF 2017 for its world premiere. The short 'Lebanon on Wheels' explores the perpetual sense of not belonging for a young man deprived of his homeland. However, in a turn of events, he regains his faith in life by connecting with others whose mutual pain cures their homesickness.

Author
Ashraf Jamal
Ashraf Jamal – Senior Writer

Ashraf Jamal brings a rare depth to writing equipped with a degree in journalism, a postgraduate degree in political science, and a degree in law from the Allahabad University. His experience includes editing and publishing the Northern India Patrika and writing for Times of India for almost a decade covering just about any topic under the sun including NRIs and Indian diaspora.

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