Germany-based goEast - festival of Central and Eastern Film became the first festival in the world to make its VR-section available for online audiences.
For the third time goEast handed out the Open Frame Award for VR projects, which is endowed with 5.000 Euro in prize money. The winner of this year is Polish documentary film maker Jacek Naglowsky with his VR film WHISPERS about ancient healing rituals near the Polish and Ukrainian border. The year before this project was a participant of the Biennale College Cinema VR program and was demonstrated during the Venice film festival. The jury special mention went to Ukrainian interactive story BABYN YAR by Alona Stulii, Kirill Pokytny and Segrey Tereschenko.
The jury of the Open Frame Award 2020 included Maria Rakušanová (curator of Raindance Film Festival VR program and creative representative of HTC Vive Europe, UK), Averie Timm (producer of nonfiction projects at Oculus/Facebook, USA) and Akmyrat Tuyliyev (producer of the documentary department of PBS – POV Spark, USA).
As a competition of experimental 360° and interactive Virtual Reality projects the Open Frame Award was not set back by curfews or travel warnings. Instead the competition itself dived deep into the future of virtual realities. Thus, the presentation of the projects in competition during the festival between May 5th to 11th 2020 were held in a virtual recreation of goEast's main venue, the Caligari FilmBühne cinema. Russian VR artist and winner of 2018's Open Frame Award, Denis Semionov, "recreated" the 94-year-old cinema in virtual reality, together with curator Georgy Molodtsov. The Award ceremony ceremony took place in this virtual space. The goEast lily-shaped award was recreated in VR as well.
Another virtual space created for this year's festival is the goEast VRoof Top Lounge, a meeting point for Open Frame Award nominees and festival guests, inspired by this year festival visual, designed by Russian artist collective Vreditel_li, whose photographic works were on display in the virtual spaces.
Especially for the festival Polish studio Dream Adoption Society and designer Anastasia Vorobyova developed unique avatars, which guests and the team could use in the festival space. As the festival became international, Anastasia decided to mix different stereotypes about Eastern European people, while mixing male and female stereotypes. The third avatar was attributed to the “Kino-eye” and the man with the movie camera by Dziga Vertov.
To make the entire project possible, goEast partnered with social XR cultural hub VRrOOm – a broadcast platform dedicated to arts, entertainment and cultural events. Virtual venues, a 360° theatre, unique virtual theatrical performances, nominees’ pitches and the Open Frame Award Ceremony were accessed through a XR VRrOOm world on the free platform VRChat. Youtube 2D streams from inside the virtual reality were also available for those who could not attend the event.
Overcoming time constraints to bring the festival online, goEast and VRrOOm were able to achieve a remarkable result, making the goEast's 2020 edition became the world's very first event to offer access to both 360° and Interactive Experiences to pre-registered guests.
Still for anyone without the hardware, there were guided tours in the goEast VRoof Top Lounge and Caligari VR, which were streamed on the website of goEast. For this Schenker Technologies GmbH kindly provides laptop solutions for the team of goEast during the festival.
«The availability of the exhibited interactive VR projects was always the main problem of popularization of this new format”, - said Georgy Molodtsov, the curator of the Open Frame Award, - «In this particular situation we decided not to cancel the program, but to expand its geography and make the projects available all around the world, including for the judges from different time zones”.