October 29th, 2023 | by Mathieu Gayet

“Our first program explores the empathic nature of virtual reality” - Ondřej Moravec (Art*VR Festival)

Innovative Czech creator and programmer, Ondřej Moravec (DARKENING, FRESH MEMORIES: THE LOOK) this year embarked on the adventure of creating an event 100% dedicated to new immersive creations. The result is the Art*VR Festival, based in Prague at the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art. An event with a selection (and a competitive section) and conferences: a very full program for a first edition and a new player on the European scene!

From October 31 to November 5


A new immersive event in the Czech Republic: Art*VR

Ondřej Moravec - The Art*VR Festival was created in a rather happy context in the Czech Republic, where many events program XR content: the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival, One World International Film Festival, Anifilm, Zlín Film Festival, Summer Film School... We're a small country, but with lots of festivals! And the industry is becoming a little more structured, with festivals fully integrating these selections into their programs, with dedicated teams and new interested programmers. This is very good news, with ambitions to create synergies to support this movement. It's still a small community, but one that's definitely very involved.


O. M. - Behind the creation of the Art*VR Festival is the desire to share our knowledge of the sector. But it's a complex business, both in terms of funding and programming. Starting by producing an event 100% dedicated to XR is a good first step, and allows us to test a lot of things. Then we'll see if opportunities arise with neighboring events, and thus contribute to greater international recognition of our country.

O. M. - The festival takes place at Prague's DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, with 3 rooms dedicated to our program, the Competition and the Non-Competition. We'll also have a series of conferences, the Zip-Scene Conference, organized by Ágnes Karolina Bakk, who is moving her event from Budapest to Prague. All these events are open to the general public.

Two selections of XR content

O. M. - Our programming is open to all contemporary XR creations, from 360 content to installations, but with a real focus on the intrinsic artistic quality of the works. In this sense, our Competition is undoubtedly representative of the best possible quality on the XR scene, whereas our related "Dimensions of Empathy" selection, without compromising on quality, offers a more mainstream approach, accessible to a less initiated audience - although the subjects are also extremely important (i.e. we include a 360 movie WISH YOU WERE HERE which questions the medium itself). We tried to work on the very idea of empathy and to question the audience on this point.

O. M. - With a balance of projects with more regional creations (Central Europe, Eastern Europe), when possible. This year, I'm impressed by the rise of the Netherlands, with very high-quality projects that have won awards at world events. I'm left with the impression that production in Eastern Europe remains sporadic, with few resources allocated to these new creative spaces. There are initiatives in Poland, the Balkans and elsewhere. But the general feeling is that there's still a long way to go before a real scene emerges.

21-22 CHINA

O. M. - We are certainly one of the first events to be able to present complete installations of certain works. The logistics are more ambitious for these, and few Czech events have the budgets for them. Or sometimes editorial lines (for film festivals) that don't include them. Finally, we'll be presenting a showcase on November 4 of projects still at the prototype stage, so that the teams can have a little test phase and get feedback from our audience.

O. M. - Clearly, Art*VR is positioning itself as a means of expression for the immersive scene. In particular, I'd like to better support LGBTQ+ content by organising the relay of creations exploring this diversity, with events like the Prague Pride Festival. And on a personal note, I'm currently producing FRESH MEMORIES 2, a Ukraine/Czech Republic co-production co-directed with Volodomyr Kolbasa, and developing a new project in the form of an installation.


Thematic Line-Up: Dimensions of Empathy

Art*VR Jury

  • Arba Hatashi, Festival Director at Anibar (Kosovo)
  • Stepan Soukenik, Meta
  • Joanne Popińska, XR Creator


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