"New ideas are emerging to keep our festival alive" - Michael Swierczynski (NewImages)

Scheduled in June, NewImages (link) recently announced its postponement until the end of September due to the current health crisis.

Building bridges with Asia (a strong partnership with Taiwan) and other continents (Africa was guest of honor 2020), this 100% immersive festival in the heart of Paris is gaining in importance each year. Discussion with its director, Michael Swierczynski.

Postpone and reboot NewImages 2020

Michael Swierczynski - NewImages is organized in an important cultural place in Paris, the Forum des Images. This is a real opportunity for us because the decision to postpone the event was made easier by the availability of the venue, even if it took a while to find a moment in the Forum agenda to move the festival. The Forum has a lot of events and screenings, but it seemed important to us to do everything to have a 2020 edition. We obviously remain vigilant according to the evolution of the situation and the announcements of the government to reassess the situation. For the moment NewImages 2020 will take place from September 23 to 27.

M. S. - We will continue to work with our teams, who are mobilized remotely, to review our program. First of all, we wanted to reassure all the people who work for us, whose contracts have not been finalized: NewImages continues! The calls for projects are suspended but we will relaunch them in June if all goes well. All projects received are of course reviewed. I think a lot of creators were waiting about our decision before sending their XR experience; we still have a lot to discover!

M. S. - The most complex is to put aside a program that is almost ready, especially the whole selection on Africa, which was to be at the heart of a major national campaign. But new ideas are emerging to keep our festival alive, and we are working to make it happen. We still have the support of our partners, and the XR community is really connected online. That gives us a lot to consider for September.

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Virtual events?

M. S. - It is obvious that the current crisis is accelerating our reflections on putting a certain part of the festival online, even if I think that NewImages - like other events - is above all a place of physical meetings. I watch carefully what shows like Laval Virtual do, or festivals like Tribeca. Some conferences could take place in virtual lounges, allowing us to reach an audience that will probably not be able to move. One of the challenges of the event industry was (and will be) the carbon footprint. The desire to work on ecological issues, combined with the Covid 19 crisis, prompts us to think about virtual solutions. While continuing to improve our reception of a Parisian and French public to discover new interactive works, and to welcome guests and creators from abroad when possible.

M. S. - Today the XR creative scene is more relevant than ever. The medium itself make it possible to work on a physical exploitation (on location-based), like at NewImages, or online. The emergence of more ambitious, interactive and complex installations encourages us to continue the work of welcoming projects in a venue, and to strengthen our proposal around international co-productions. We hope to welcome people from everywhere in September!

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