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NYFF 2016: Convergence Program Highlights How Technology is Changing Cinematic Storytelling

Your guide to the VR, AR and interactive free experiences available during opening weekend of the fest.

"Late Shift"

“Late Shift”

courtesy of the New York Film Festival

The Convergence section of the New York Film Festival is described as “immersive experiences that redefine the idea of cinematic storytelling.” For many festivals, this would simply be a catch all for the latest VR experiences. And while VR is definitely a key part, this year’s Convergence offers a much broader survey of the myriad ways storytelling is adapting to advances in technology and new media. Included are talks, screenings and scheduled interactive experiences, with free events throughout the weekend of October 1 in the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at Lincoln Center.

READ MORE: The 2016 IndieWire NYFF Bible: Every Review, Interview and News Item Posted During the Festival

The programming truly does vary; everything from adding augmented reality to a comic book, an interactive digital local newspaper co-created by Daniel Scheinert (“Swiss Army Man”), to a multi-panel presentation of a series of 24 hour documentaries about the lives of transit workers around the globe. A full listing of the offering can be found here. If you are short of time, these are four experiences worth building into your schedule.

“Ricerca VR”

Virtual Reality, 15 minutes
Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center
October 1 – 2

After artist Yo-Yo Lin created her five-panel video art installation her dream was to bring the experience to a museum like setting.  Her problem was that showing people photos of the project on her iPad didn’t capture the essence of the installation experience. She then partnered with filmmaker Steve Dabal to create a VR360 experience the simulates what it is like to stand in a gallery surrounded by Lin’s lush animation and intricate sound design. Initially, the VR was meant to be a proof of concept to lure a gallery or museum, but the piece completely stands on its own and is one of the best examples of how innovative artists can harness the potential VR to tell stories in physical space.

“Sherlock Holmes & The Internet of Things”

Immersive Storytelling Experience, 75 minutes
October 1

This experience was incredibly popular at last year’s festival, so creators Lance Weiler and Nick Fortugno are back again for NYFF 54. Participants are invited to step into Holmes’ shoes to solve a string of crimes across Lincoln Center’s campus. Since launching the immersive storytelling experience, participants from 20 countries have taken part in a project that uses the emergent web of connected digital devices to investigate mysteries.  Weiler is a well known leader in mixing technology with narrative and is the director of the Columbia University Digital Storytelling Lab. Last year he wrote about this project for IndieWire.

Participants should meet in the lobby of the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at 1:00pm, 2:30pm, or 4:00pm.

READ MORE: NYFF 2016 Hidden Gems – 10 Great Discoveries At This Year’s Festival

“Late Shift”

Audience-Directed Narrative Feature, 80 minutes
Howard Gilman Theatre
October 2, 5:30pm

Video games and movies seem to keep finding new ways of overlapping. “Late Shift” is an interactive full length feature that takes yet another step in merging the two. Using an app, audience members in a movie theater will make key decisions in how the feature length story will unfold.  Billed as a choose-your-own-adventure movie, “Late Shift” follows a parking attendant whose world is turned upside down when he’s forced to take part in a brazen heist.

“Traveling While Black”

Special Preview Event, 75 minutes
Howard Gilman Theatre
October 4, 6:45pm

A work-in-progress, “Traveling While Black” presents a contemporary exploration of the issues related to how African Americans’ movement is restricted in modern-day America. The final project will include a traveling museum exhibit, virtual reality films and live events. Academy Award winner Roger Ross Williams (“Life, Animated”) will present a sneak peek of this compelling project, including a live theatrical performance and a teaser of the project’s first VR piece, followed by a panel discussion.

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