Tribeca Film Festival explores tech with virtual reality, immersive screenings

DRAW ME CLOSE, a 2017 Tribeca Storyscapes selection. Photo credit: Tribeca Film Festival.

DRAW ME CLOSE, a 2017 Tribeca Storyscapes selection. Photo credit: Tribeca Film Festival.


From virtual reality experiments to social media misadventures, the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival tackled technology as a key theme, winning high marks for its ambition and scope. 

The 17th annual Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) welcomed visitors for the first time into Tribeca Cinema360, a VR theater featuring four curated screening programs of 360-degree mobile content. The new VR theater and the TFF programming brought a futuristic vibe to lower Manhattan during its 11-day run in late April.

The festival was founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff in 2001 in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center.

One of the first festivals to champion virtual reality “as a dynamic form of storytelling,” this year’s installment included 33 innovative virtual reality exhibitions and experiences.

Forbes found that several offerings delved into the metaphysical, reporting that a post-apocalyptic vision anchored several of the festival’s virtual reality projects.

“From coming-of-age dramas such as ‘Battlescar’ that tells the story of a Puerto Rican runaway, to ‘Campfire Creepers,’ a VR look at sadistic camp counselors, the Festival curated a number of rich pieces.”

“But perhaps one of the most compelling items to come out of the Festival, in terms of technology, was a provocative talk that was part of the IBM salon series during the TFF,” Forbes reported. “Entitled ‘Blockchain: Can Blockchain Breed Blockbusters?’ the panel included such professionals as Mitzi Peirone writer/director “Braid,” the first-ever feature funded entirely by cryptocurrency, and CTO for IBM’s Media and Entertainment industry Peter Guglielmino, where they discussed the disruptive power of blockchain as applied directly to the business of filmmaking and the entire industry.”

Other programming created virtual worlds where viewers could swim with sharks (“Into the Now”), care for a baby elephant (“My Africa”) or experience first hand the bombing raid of a town square (“Hero”), reported press materials for the Tribeca Film Festival.

"Each year, we're seeing creators push boundaries and explore new ways to tell stories through VR,” said Ingrid Kopp, co-curator of Tribeca Immersive. “As the technology improves, so does the storytelling, and with that we are able to use VR to tackle new issues, experiences and narratives and invite new audiences to experience these projects."

For more about VR, read our article: What is AR and how can it help my business?

(Note: Tribeca Enterprises is a long-time customer of Sinu and we are proud to share the recent national news coverage they have earned for their use of new technologies at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.)