WVRF VR Shenanigans at Cannes Film Festival

The sunny springtime took World VR Forum’s Co-Founders, Delphine Seitiee and Salar Shahna to the magnificent 70th edition of Cannes Film Festival, in Cannes, France, Friday to Tuesday, 19-23 May, 2017.

WVRF was at the festival for three interventions, the first one was a panel session: VR: From Production to Distribution at the Cannes Eco-Forum organized by Paramax Films which was held at the Majestic Hotel, at the HP Studio, a beautiful private venue. For our session, we invited three speakers, Fiefer Golbessi – an independent filmmaker from San Francisco, Momo Hao from Yuku – international distribution company in China, and Marci Jastrow from Technicolor – a Los Angeles production studio for VR. WVRF’s panel was unique as it consisted exclusively of women to show how women are strong in VR today, demonstrating the whole process from creation to distribution through different personalities from different parts of the world.

VR at Cannes was officially held in one main location on the market floor, at NEXT VR, where the whole section was dedicated to VR with different booths, content, technology, distribution companies and VR Library. Every day different sessions were organized showing various VR contents. Then there was a place where the forums were held. For the second intervention, WVRF was invited to join the Chinese Forum. Shahna was invited to speak next to Jim Shabilt, from Advancing My Society, Jean Luji Perone from Studio, and Garry from Boundless X VR. They spoke for two hours about the role of China in VR, emphasizing its development at the international level.

After the Chinese Forum, for the third intervention, Shahna was invited for a private gathering with Canadian producers at the Canada Pavilion, at the international village of Cannes. The VR section has grown and developed over the year. One VR project was selected in the Official Selection of Cannes, in the Film Festival not in competition though. This project was Carne y Arena, by Alejandro G. Inarritu, it was shown in a separate venue, close to the airport in Cannes and the Film Festival organized shuttles taking people individually to try the experience. Though, not many people had the chance to experience it, but it was a project that made unanimity, everyone who tried it was really touched and moved by that project.

It is refreshing overall to witness that the major international film festival is dedicating more space to VR and also opening the doors of it’s Official Selection,” said Shahna.

The film celebrities were separate from the VR producers, although such segregation could change in the future. In the Official Selection, there was a project made by Inarritu, famous film director known for Birdman, Babel, Beautiful, and other film projects that were presented in Cannes before, with celebrities in his productions. According to Shahna, the fact that Inarritu has done a VR film might help break the barrier between film celebrities and VR. In terms of projects, Arden’s Wake by Eugine Chung was back after being at WVRF in the special screening. Also, the French project called Alice gathered a lot of attention. The Festival Tous Ecrans from Geneva with Pro-Helvetia had supported the coming of the Swiss projects, since Switzerland had a small booth, where they notably showed Break a Leg from Apelab. The diversity of content was evident with a large selection of content. Also present at Cannes, was the famous French distributor and producer NK2 who has opened a VR distribution division.

The VR section is an excellent fusion platform to raise awareness for those oblivious to the VR mania and was very international with many Europeans, Americans, and a growing presence of Chinese.