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Featuring short films at Cannes 2016

Virtual Reality brings movies alive

Fariha Marjia
Virtual Reality brings movies alive

The 2016 Cannes Film Festival lasting from May 11 until May 22, features screenings of Virtual reality (VR) short films. The festival has finally released its movie lineup which includes Steven Spielberg’s “The BFG”, Sean Penn's “The Last Face”, and the Iggy Pop documentary “Gimme Danger”. Amazon has rights to five of the movies in the lineup, with the opening film being one of the five, “Café Society” by Woody Allen. Three other of Amazon’s have also been picked for the main competition. Nicolas Winding Refn's 'The Neon Demon”, Jim Jarmusch's “Paterson” and Park Chan-wook's 'The Handmaiden” are also Amazon's.

While many are very optimistic about the new streaming videos, others like director Spielberg are quite skeptical. Festival director Thierry Fremaux sees Amazon's presence as an advantage because of its SVOD (streaming video on demand) service releases its films in cinemas before they are streamed online. "The presence of Amazon is not significant (just) for the Cannes film festival, it’s significant for the whole industry of cinema, I think it’s good news, it’s money, a new kind of money. Having Amazon buying four, five films is a very good sign showing cinema is alive." Fremaux said.

However, director of “The BFG” Steven Spielberg is anxious about the rise of virtual reality technology, saying it is “dangerous” for development of traditional film-makers. “I think we’re moving into a dangerous medium with virtual reality, the only reason I say it is dangerous is because it gives the viewer a lot of latitude not to take direction from the storytellers but make their own choices of where to look. I just hope it doesn’t forget the story when it starts enveloping us in a world that we can see all around us and make our own choices to look at,” he reasoned.

Netflix and Amazon bought 12 films in total this year at the Sundance film festival. The festival has its own dedicated pavilion for virtual reality films where the viewer must put on a hear gear which allows 360 degree view into the world of cinema. One of the shorts is from director Eric Darnell six-minute film "Invasion!”. He explained, "It's not in my mind just an extension of cinema, it is its own thing and we have to discover so much about what are the tools in our toolbox, it really is just a brand new language." Another virtual reality film showing in Cannes is "Giant", whose director Milica Zec says the immersive experience means audiences can choose where they look and what they see. "You have to think that now you have 360 degrees that you have to cover," she said. "When you have a regular standard film, the screen is in front of you but here it feels like you're inside of the screen as a viewer."

May 22, 2016
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