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VR gets arty at Tribeca Film Festival 2019

Interactive theatre is not necessarily what comes to mind when you see a Virtual Reality headset. Yet many artists and filmmakers are more and more utilizing the capabilities of these immersive devices to create a mixed reality experience combining theatre, sets, and a virtual world once the headset goes on. Take a look at the lineup of experiences on view at Tribeca Film Festival's Virtual Reality Arcade this year.

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SarahTewHS2012urbanSuare01.jpg

Sarah Tew

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VR Storyscapes and Mixed Reality at Tribeca Film Festival
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The Tribeca Film Festival has been on the forefront of showcasing the up-and-coming virtual reality storytelling artform. Each year they feature a selection of the most interesting virtual reality experiences, ranging from immersive films to interactive projects that can involve elements of theater or physical artwork in addition to what one sees inside the headset.

VR Storyscapes and Mixed Reality at Tribeca Film Festival
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Take a walk with me through this year's show and check out all the experiences on offer!

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In Drop in the Ocean participants experience a ride on a jellyfish as a 2-inch tall being and experience the ocean from a new perspective.

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Joan Solsman of CNET can be seen here trying it out. 

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There were some familiar titles in the mix -- this Doctor Who-themed experience is called The Runaway.

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There's a Game of Thrones experience called The Dead Must Die, brought to you with use of Magic Leap's mixed-reality glasses.  I am told you can kill a white walker with a dragon glass dagger.

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Ello is a about friendship and explores results of passivity vs. pursuit.

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Ayahuasca's booth had a long line. Participants would be taken on a spiritual journey through the eyes of the director Jan Kounen as he takes the plant medicine. 

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It looked pretty compelling, but I didn't get to try it myself.

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Future Dreaming takes you on a journey with four young aboriginal Australians.

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Here we see the team of creators posing for a photo at their booth.

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Common Ground lets participants explore the Aylesbury estate and aims to promote understanding of the challenges in public housing in the UK.

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Children Do Not Play War is a cinematic VR experience that takes place in the war in Uganda through the eyes of a young girl. 

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The 2nd Civil War is a voice-activated experience where you are dropped into an insurgent hot zone in a new American Civil War.  Participants must interrogate people and ultimately are prompted to decide which side they are on.

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Another Dream is a true story of an Egyptian lesbian couple in a post-revolution backlash against the LGBTQ community. What will they do?

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The Key is an interactive journey about memory and choices. Like many of these, it sounds kind of abstract.  I guess you had to try it to get what it's about. They wouldn't allow a photo inside their space as it might disrupt the experience, which involved actors as well as VR.  

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Gymnasia's booth featured live-action puppetry of a creepy sort. It beckons participants to "step into a dream, where the ghostly ephemera of a lost childhood awaits you."

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Cave utilizes Parallux technology, featuring an immersive holographic VR experience that can be shared by a group of people all at the same time.  I tried this one with Scott Stein when it was being workshopped at NYU.  Kind of neat seeing digital versions of the other participants in the chairs around you.

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7 Lives takes place in Tokyo where a girl jumps in front of a subway train.  "Her soul rises from the rails. On the platform, the witnesses of the scene are in shock. It revived a trauma in them, painful memories they never overcame..."

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Bonfire is an augmented-reality experience about surviving after you've crashed your spaceship into an alien jungle.

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Traitor is a mystery about a missing teenager named Emma McCoy, and it's the participant's job to find her.

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Wolves in the Walls: It's All Over has you help a girl discover what's hidden in the walls of her home. The woman I spoke to said she'd been working on developing this project for the last three years.  

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Where There's Smoke mixes documentary, immersive theater, and an escape room vibe to explore memory and loss. This was just a teaser booth -- the full experience was three blocks away in a separate space!

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The Collider is about power and relationships. Participants spend 45 minutes exploring memories from their lives and engaging in what sounded like thought-provoking therapeutic artwork and conversation that at times involves a partner.

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Unceded Territories seeks to engage viewers with issues of colonialism, climate change and indigenous civil rights.

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Stealing Ur Feelings is an augumented-reality piece "about the power of facial emotion recognition AI that exploits your reaction to its own content in horrifying ways." This one sounds right up my alley. 

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War Remains, featuring Dan Carlin of the Hardcore History podcast, puts participants smack-dab in the middle of the western front of the First World War.

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Into the Light is an augmented-reality site-specific touring experience featuring Yo-Yo Ma's cello, as participants explore the space through an app on their phone.

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