NewImages Festival Expands Industry Offerings

Running June 9-13, this year’s NewImages Festival will mark its fourth edition with a robust slate of world premieres and an ever-expanding industry program.

Whereas last year’s lockdowns forced the festival to push its third edition to September, this year finds the NewImages festival returning to its traditional June berth. Taking place as a hybrid event, the program will be accessible both in person in-and-around Paris’ Forum des Images and online via a dedicated platform.

Of the 17 projects selected for the XR competition, eight are world premieres. Among them are the interactive narrative “Lady Sapiens, The Experience,” coproduced by France Television and Ubisoft, the documentary “Noah’s Raft” from VR 360, and “We Are at Home,” a multi-user version of Michelle and Uri Kranot’s “The Hangman at Home.”

Other competition titles include the New Yorker produced animated doc “Reeducated,” which takes viewers inside a Chinese internment camp, and “Namoo,” a poetic animated short from Oscar nominated filmmaker Erick Oh (“Opera”) and Baobab Studios.

An additional 12 projects will screen out of competition, including a new version of Ainslee Robson’s exploration of Ethiopian-American identity “Ferenj: A Graphic Memoir in VR,” winner of the jury prize at last year’s edition.

Members of this year’s jury – which, as per tradition, come from outside the VR ecosystem – are filmmakers Claude Barras (“My Life as a Zucchini”) and Bertrand Mandico (“The Wild Boys”), alongside musician Yael Naim and designer Selly Raby Kane.

On the professional front, NewImages will renew its industry offering with a series of case studies, conferences and workshops, all of which will complement the annual XR Financing Market and pitch session.

With more than 100 decision makers (encompassing a broad cross section of filmmakers, curators, and tech execs) taking part and more than 500 meetings already booked, the festival’s industry offering continues to grow. New this year is an accolade for the pitch itself, to be awarded to six of the 41 titles selected for the financing market.

“With 41 projects, we can take some risks,” explains NewImages director Michaël Swierczynski. “That’s in part why we launched the best pitch award. We found that the capacity to sell a project was just as important as [any other element].”

For Swierczynski, this imperative stems from the growing formal ambitions shown by many of the selected works. “We noticed that the prospective projects have become more multidisciplinary – they mixed live performance, video games, and visual art,” he says.

“The question of whether these VR works are films or not is already beginning to disappear. Today we’re seeing a fusion between several disciplines. Some come to this immersive new space with a live theater background, others from video games, and others from documentary filmmaking. And out of this mix springs a different art-form, something wholly new.”

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