Virtual reality innovation is cemented in Sitges Cocoon
In the Official VR 360 Section, cutting edge technology and cinema come together to immerse the viewer in another fantastic reality, with the best XR experiences of the year
Sitges continues to be committed to new technologies and for the third consecutive year, it will be featuring an official in-competition selection dedicated exclusively to virtual reality experiences from around the world. Audiences will be able to enjoy, continuously and free of charge, 20 in-competition pieces, which will be judged by a prestigious jury specialized in genre.
Once again this year, the very best immersive XR content will be found in the VR Cinema at the Centre Cultural Miramar in Sitges. A total of 20 international pieces make up this year’s official in-competition selection, thanks to Samsung technology, HTC-Vive and Oculus will transport audiences to a surprising world of virtual reality experiences where horror, science fiction, fantasy, animation and experimental film will become, for a little while, their only travelling companion. Sitges Cocoon’s viewers will have, after collecting their ticket and reserving a time slot, 60 minutes to choose one or several of the in-competition pieces.
As every year, the selection will feature a wide variety of genres and projects for all tastes, endurance and ages. From animated experiences for all audiences such as Bonfire and Crow: The Legend, from the prestigious American production company Baobab Studios and directed by the 3D animation expert, Eric Darnell (Antz), or the thrilling Gloomy Eyes by Fernando Maldonado and Jorge Tereso, a story of young love starring a teenage zombie and narrated by Colin Farrell. In the science fiction section, three spectacular initiatives: Mechanical Souls by director Gaëlle Mourre and 7 Lives by Jan Kounen (Dobermann), two pieces along the lines of Black Mirror and Tsung-Han TSAI’s Live Stream by YUKI <3, an amusing and poignant Taiwanese satire about the double-edged sword that social networks can be.
Horror will also have a prominent place in virtual reality, reserved only the bravest audiences willing to venture into the phantasmagoric and intense Japanese experience Ghost Reality by Hajime Ohata, participate in the interactive thriller Pagan Peak VR by Ioulia Isserlis and Max Sacker, let themselves be carried away by the hypnotic Turkish experience Floodplain by Deniz Tortum, the interactive mystery Kobold by Max Sacker, Guy Norris’ sinister up close and personal Australian torture, The Peeler, or discover the world premiere in Sitges Cocoon of the Taiwanese Vicious Circle by Chun-Yu LAI. And speaking of amazing and hard to forget experiences, also featured is the new adventure combing stop motion and CGI, Gymnasia, by Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski, from the avant-garde production company Felix & Paul Studios; Hiroaki Higashi’s Ghost in the Shell: Ghost Chaser, the new installment of the saga produced by Production I.G.; and Ray Sparks, the sequel to Ray by the Spaniards Rafael Pavon and Roberto Romero.
An international jury composed by Isadora García (professor and academic researcher at the International University of Catalonia, winner of the first prize at the XXX CAC Awards 2018 for research on audiovisual communication), Albert Pintó (director of Matar a Dios / Killing God, winner of the people’s choice award at Sitges 2017, and of the horror film to be premiered, Malasaña32) and Daniel Cohen (a genre film fan since he was a teen and director of the Strasbourg European Fantastic Film Festival) will be in charge of deciding which of the 20 XR in-competition experiences will be the winner of this year’s edition.
Collaborations, Installations and Workshops
For the first time, the Festival is featuring a fantastic collaboration for all virtual reality lovers. Thanks to VRrOOm, an innovative VOD platform for VR content, created by Louis Cacciuttolo, and at the Strasbourg European Fantastic Film Festival, some of the selected in-competition content from this year’s Strasbourg Festival can be seen for free from October 4th to 8th at the Miramar Cultural Center, including the eagerly-awaited Star Wars Vader Immortal, with Oculus Quest technology. And from October 12th to November 22nd, on the platform VRrOOm you can also see a joint selection between festivals completely free and from any corner of the planet.
In addition to the Samsung technology that has accompanied this section since its origins, this year Sitges Cocoon will also include Oculus and HTC LIVE equipment to increase the immersive experience and reveal the infinite possibilities offered by XR today to the public. Thanks to the Barcelona production company Ekisolid, founded by David Herrero, this year there will be two interactive experience simulators, unique and custom-made for Sitges: on the one hand, The Lost Idol, a treadmill from which the audience will have to escape the dangers of a virtual jungle - with details and nods at the Festival - in the purest Indiana Jones style. And on the other, Mad Run XR, inspired by the post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max, where the participant, driving a Dodge Challenger, will have to manage to get the last drops of gas in an apocalyptic world before it’s too late. In this case, skill will be rewarded. The user who gets the best score will win two tickets for the Festival’s closing. The two installations will be totally free of charge, with access by order of arrival and will be located on the ground floor of the Centre Cultural Miramar.
The Festival continues to be committed to the future of new technologies and XR content related to cinema. For this reason, this year Sitges Cocoon will be part of the Festival’s Industry Talks, with the organization of 3 conferences dedicated to virtual reality on Friday, October 11th. The ESCAC XR Experience, a project promoted by the brand new VR lab that the ESCAC debuted a few months ago, will speak to us about a very sensorial interactive experience that they already had the chance to show at Sónar+ D. In Stories of the Future _ Storytelling, Innovation & Emerging Technologies, Marta Ordeig, a passionate entrepreneur who has taken her ideas and workshops to Silicon Valley, will explore the relationship between emerging technologies, storytelling and how they interact to design the future. Roberto Romero and Rafael Pavon, internationally respected sector figures, will close the section of conferences on virtual reality with Més enllà de Ray (Beyond Ray), where they will explain the secrets behind their latest creation, Ray Sparks, the interactive version of their previous experience, Ray, which won a special mention at the Festival in 2017.
Venues and Access
Screenings will be held at the VR Cinema, a virtual reality movie theater, located in the Centre Cultural Miramar, where mainly via cell phones and glasses by Samsung's GEAR VR -the Festival’s technological collaborator- viewers will be able to enjoy immersive experiences.
Admission to all the spaces, projections and activities is totally free of charge. To facilitate access, early in the morning, the public can pick up a ticket for the session in the available time slot that most suits you. They will be 60 minute sessions, where viewers will be able to choose the content that interests them the most.
In-competition Sitges Cocoon 2019 Lineup
7 Lives France, Luxembourg and Belgium, 2019. Directed by: Jan Kounen, 20’
A Memory of the Wind South Korea, 2019. Directed by: Park Heungsik, 19’
Ayahuasca- Kosmik Journey France and Luxembourg, 2019. Directed by: Jan Kounen, 18’
Bonfire USA, 2019. Directed by: Eric Darnell, 18’
Conscious Existence Germany, 2018. Directed by: Marc Zimmermann, 12’
Crow: The Legend USA, 2018. Directed by: Eric Darnell, 22’
Floodplain Turkey, 2018. Directed by: Deniz Tortum, 13’
Ghost in the Shell: Ghost Chaser Japan, 2018. Directed by: Hiroaki Higashi, 8’