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May 26th, 2021 | by Mathieu Gayet

"New forms of XR storytelling emerged during Covid" - Loren Hammonds (Tribeca Film Festival)

As a leading event on immersive storytelling (including podcast this year!), Tribeca Film Festival decided to go hybrid, with a new edition late June - way after its regular April schedule. We discussed this special edition during our yearly rendez-vous with Loren Hammonds, VP, Immersive Programming, Senior Programmer, Film & Immersive at Tribeca.

Building a selection after Covid

Loren Hammonds - Somewhat surprisingly, our submissions numbers remained relatively consistent this season. The most notable impact was in the lack of live-action 360 projects that we received. I do believe that the worldwide production shutdown along with limited travel negatively impacted creators ability to get out in the world with a stereoscopic camera and tell those stories. There were other forms of XR storytelling that emerged in their place though, with Augmented Reality, Immersive Audio, and Web-based projects taking a significant place in the selection this season.

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KUSUNDA (Gayatri Parameswaran , Felix Gaedtke)

L. H. - We were very pleased to discover some new creators this season, and also really lean into new forms of immersive storytelling that aren’t necessarily as easy to showcase in a traditional exhibition. Pieces like Brett Gaylor’s DISCRIMINATOR, which uses a desktop platform and webcam to tell a story about facial recognition technology in a surprising and innovative way, or Polae which is a very mature speculative sci-fi experience that uses AR and AI filters to tell a story through your mobile phone, are great examples of that. We also have a portion of the programming that will help us to celebrate Juneteenth, the holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the US. There are some great projects under that umbrella, including an AR Comic Book called JUPITER INVINCIBLE and a transmedia project called UN(RE)SOLVED, which has a physical AR sculptural component on-site as well as a WebXR platform for those who can’t join us in NYC.

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Going physical in New York

L. H. - Candidly, it was not easy at all! We were lucky to have a relationship with The Museum of Other Realities that was started last year after the pandemic hit. This allowed us to build a global platform for our VR selections, which was obviously important given ongoing restrictions in international travel. In addition, we wanted to ensure that our in-person audience could enjoy the work that we’re presenting safely, so we developed a new cohort ticketing model and are following strict Covid safety procedures to make sure that the stories are able to shine and audiences can feel comfortable joining us.

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WELCOME TO RESPITE (Deirdre Lyons , Stephen Butchko , Braden Roy , Brian Tull)

L. H. - On-site here in New York, we will still have an indoor component of Immersive in the form of 5 Storyscapes nominees with full installations. We will also have stations available to access the MOR for those who do not have a headset at home. We also have several selections which are set on the streets and parks of NYC, including the Immersive Audio experiences CURRENT by Annie Saunders, KNOT, which is a narrative trilogy created by the amazing team at Darkfield, and the AR experience BREONNA’S GARDEN which celebrates the life of the late Breonna Taylor and comes from an especially exciting new creator named Lady PheOnix. We have a creative collaboration with ONX Studio, an immersive accelerator which will be hosting a showcase of their cohort, several of whom are also official selections of our festival. Finally, we have an immersive hub at the Warner Media Innovation Lab in Manhattan to welcome those who were able to join us to provide a space for networking and also for checking out some more of the program. 

XR3: Tribeca worldwide

L. H. - This year we continued our partnership with Cannes XR and welcomed NewImages Festival to develop a partnership that we’ve dubbed XR3. All 3 festivals will have our individual exhibitions live in the MOR from June 9th-20th, and then again from July 6th-17th during the window of Cannes. While we all have our individual curation, we’re encouraging audiences to explore what all 3 of the festivals have to offer. There will be satellite venues in July to present certain selections of the XR3 exhibition in other regions, but those haven’t been announced yet.

"Our festival must be an international laboratory for immersive creation" - Michael Swierczynski (NewImages Festival)

Tribeca Immersive 2021 - A line-up

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