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October 11th, 2021 | by Mathieu Gayet

“With GOLIATH we wanted to offer an interactive documentary with an innovative and original narrative” - Katayoun Dibamehr (Floréal Films)

It's unprecedented to underline it: a French company - Floréal Films - signs a double win at the Venice Film Festival, Venice VR Expanded section! After THE HANGMAN AT HOME in 2020, it's GOLIATH signed by Barry Gene Murphy and May Abdalla (Anagram) that leaves with the same VR Grand Prize.

Meeting with its producer Katayoun Dibamehr (who co-founded Floréal Films with Avi Amar), just back from the Lido - and already finalizing the program of the next Festival nouveau cinéma, Explore section of which she is the programmer.

We had met in 2019 the creators of GOLIATH during the workshops of the Biennale College - “Feel the narrative in your skin” – May Abdalla & Barry Gene Murphy (GOLIATH) and recently about the final version of GOLIATH "At the intersection of story/game and connection".

Version française

GOLIATH and THE HANGMAN : an immersive double in Venice!

Katayoun Dibamehr - Winning the Grand Prix two years in a row is pretty crazy. But it's above all thanks to the work and talent of the artists we collaborate with! We've just come out of 3 very dense years, very tiring too, but by accompanying fascinating people on exciting projects it gives us a lot of energy to move forward. And to be rewarded in Venice... It's very stimulating! And it's true that the artists are the driving force behind our adventures. The artistic and technical requirements of GOLIATH lead us to believe that it will have a great career in festivals and online, because we believe in the quality of the experience.

K. D. - I met May and Barry during our time at the Biennale College, and I was immediately drawn to their project. I had discovered their work (Anagram's, ed. note) back in 2014 at Tribeca. As for THE HANGMAN... You obviously have to anticipate the look of such works, more or less conceptual, which require a real investment from the audience, a desire to explore. With GOLIATH, it is probably easier with its more energetic approach, a terribly engaging design, close to the video game, an artistic quality, sequences and diversified universes...

Building an international co-production

K. D. - Floréal's collaborations are often based on artistic preferences. With Anagram, like Michelle and Uri Kranot, we had many exchanges, we bonded and discovered each other before working together. And as soon as we start a project, we want to lay things down, go through prototypes, boards so that the artistic approach (and discussion) is maximum. We absolutely want quality to be the main thing, and we must give ourselves time around these first essential steps. Our main criterion is to have a strong storytelling. But the quality of our projects is also due to the experience of our authors, who have often worked for a long time in cinema or television. This is a guarantee of efficiency and time saving.

K. D. - And there is our own contribution to the project which is an important discussion too. Why co-produce with France? That's fundamental too. With Anagram, the goal was not to collaborate with big studios, but to build a collective of independent talents - alongside their own team in London. And it was our job to bring together this team of developers and 3D artists in France, mostly from a distance. We can obviously mention Léon Denise (7 LIVES), Benjamin Vedrenne... We are lucky in France to have a lot of interesting profiles in France, who already know XR creation.

K. D. - It's true that in recent years Floréal has built an international network with our projects: the Netherlands, New Zealand (MINIMUM MASS), the United Kingdom... We were lucky to find countries where co-productions were easy to make, with ecosystems that encourage this. But this is happening more and more, especially with London, which is very committed to XR. We are obviously looking at the next countries where artists interest us, where we could set up our next projects. Where to find some of our authors for new adventures...

What is Floréal Films' recipe?

K. D. - I completely assume the fact of working on real subjects, of using fiction to tell the reality of certain problems or certain causes. THE HANGMAN AT HOME, but especially MINIMUM MASS and GOLIATH are the reflection of this desire. We don't make documentaries, that's not our job. Coming from fiction, we want to have a greater impact on the public by taking them into our stories. And with Avi we can be very hard on the script, on the central document of the narrative guiding the artistic choices that follow.

K. D. - Next up we are working on the next (feature) film by Michelle and Uri Kranot, the makers of THE HANGMAN AT HOME and WE ARE AT HOME. We were also at Venice VR this year for the Gap Financing where we presented BLOOD SPEAKS: THE BIRTH OF A SUPERHERO by Poulomi Basu and CJ Clarke - also a very topical project about female menstruation and the taboos it entails, created by an artist from the contemporary art world, supported by Oculus VR For Good. And of course, in France, CONAN THE BARBARIAN with Bertrand Mandico that will be shooting in a few weeks!

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