Courtesy Venice Film Festival
The Venice Film Festival’s Virtual Reality section is going entirely online this year, but expanding its scope via a platform and also a satellite network that will make it accessible worldwide.
In normal times the competitive sidebar launched in 2017 by co-curators Michel Reilhac and Liz Rosenthal – who put Venice ahead of the curve in the VR arena – was held on the Lazzaretto, a tiny island a stone’s throw from the Lido that was a leper colony in the 15th century. But due to the coronavirus pandemic this year it’s been rebranded Venice VR Expanded and moved to a digital platform supported by Htc Viveport, Facebook’s Oculus, VRChat and VRrOOm that will allow various types of access using a VR headset and a PC.
Venice VR Expanded will present a total of 44 projects from 24 countries, 31 of which are in competition. These include “Gnomes & Goblins,” co-directed by “The Lion King” helmer and “The Mandalorian” creator Jon Favreau in tandem with Jake Rowell, who produced the award-winning VR series “theBlu.” Also from the U.S. is “Baba Yaga,” made by Baobab Studios, which has Kate Winslet, Jennifer Hudson, Glenn Close and Daisy Ridley, who plays the lead, as talents, and will make a push for the Oscar for animated short. Also from Baobab Studios along with Facebook’s Oculus and Latin American animation studio 3DAR there is “Paper Birds,” in which “Jojo Rabbit” breakout and “Home Alone” reboot star Archie Yates is voicing the lead role.