In the space of only two years, virtual reality works have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with at the Film Market at the Cannes Film Festival. VR is now present on every front, with French works taking a leading role. Here is an overview of the key players in the sector.
Let us give credit where credit is due! Cannes XR will kick off on May 14 (until May 19), taking over the basement area of the Cannes Film Market. During the six-day event, this atypical space dedicated to innovation and virtual reality will shine the spotlight on the latest immersive content experiences produced by only a handful of highly active creators in the industry (including Onirix and 4DViews, to name only two).
This year's Cannes XR can be summarized by a few key figures: 12 exhibitors; 21 events and meetings, and as many projects in development stage; 24 talks to be given; and 69 works presented—including the crème de la crème of French VR production. Cannes XR 2019 will be an opportunity to discover the first images of a number of eagerly-anticipated works, such as new creations by François Vautier (I Saw the Future), Alexandre Perez (Sergent James), Michelle and Uri Kranot (Nothing Happens), Landia Egal (Welcome to the Savoy), and the first collaboration between Céline Tricart (The Sun Ladies) and Marie Blondiaux (SENS VR).
After their success in 2018 with BattleScar and SPHERES, Atlas V are back in force this year with productions including Ayahuasca (Kosmik journey) (Tribeca) and Gloomy Eyes (Sundance). The producer Antoine Cayrol will be in Cannes on May 14 to discuss the challenges and implications of Location Based Entertainment (LBE). On the same day, this subject will also be taken up by Antoine Cardon (DVgroup), who has recently earned acclaim with his VR experience The Horrifically Real Virtuality (Venice VR, Centre Phi).
On May 19, at 2:00 p.m., Amaury La Burthe (Novelab) and Michel Reilhac (Venice VR) will turn their attention to the issues surrounding narration, with a focus on AR-narration (augmented reality).
Another important theme to be debated over the six days of meetings is that of international coproductions, as exemplified by Mechanical Souls: presented in a world premiere at this year's Sundance Film Festival, this film is a coproduction between France and Taiwan. François Klein(Digital Rise) and Aurélien Dirler (audiovisual attaché in Taipei) will talk about the creation of this work during a panel discussion to be held on May 16 at 4:30 p.m.
Thanks to the kind permission of a_BAHN, Atlas V, and Empreinte Digitale, UniFrance will be displaying a Viktor Romeo station on our Terrace at Cannes. Visitors will thus be able to discover the following works:
- Fan Club
- Gloomy Eyes (Ep. 1 – The First Light)
On Saturday, May 18, a Breakfast event dedicated to professionals in the XR sector will be held on the UniFrance Terrace. Programmers from prestigious international film festivals (Venise, Berlin, FNC Montréal, Tribeca), cultural institutions (Maxxi, Centre Phi), buyers (Arte, Orange, Otherset), and producers (ON Animation, a_BAHN) will take part in this event.
A pioneer in the field of immersive creations, Arte will host a screening of four works that reflect the richness and diversity of these productions on May 18 at 2:30 p.m.:
- The Scream
- Isle of the Dead
- The Real Thing
- Gloomy Eyes (Ep. 1 – The First Light)
The same day, this European cultural television network will celebrate four years of commitment to new media creations at an evening reception event.
From May 16 through 19, Diversion cinema will take up residence (with headsets in tow) on the UniFrance Terrace. This up-and-coming distribution company, which has made a name for itself by organizing VR screenings in Paris at the Forum des Images and the Louxor Cinema, continues to export its skills and know-how to high profile international festivals, such as in Venice, Dubai, and Amsterdam. Over four days, the company will host an exclusive presentation of three works by Jan Kounen: -22.7°C, 7 Lives, and Ayahuasca (Kosmik journey) (invitation only).
On May 18, at 5:00 p.m., the Institut Français will be hosting a roundtable discussion titled "Réalité Virtuelle, quel modèle économique de diffusion à l’international?" (Virtual Reality: What is the best international distribution model?) at its Cannes Pavilion, Les Cinémas du Monde. This will offer an opportunity to discuss the programming and commercialization of French VR works in international markets and thereby contribute to building a viable and ethical economic model. This meeting will allow for dialogue with professionals in the French VR scene on the issues facing the sector at this time, working from specific examples of current initiatives, such as those undertaken by the Institut Français and the French diplomatic cultural network. During this discussion, professionals working in the area of immersive reality will be invited to share their views with audiovisual attachés from the French cultural network abroad, with the aim of reflecting on future models for ways of accompanying the distribution of immersive works outside France.
With an already-established reputation on the Croisette for the promotion of its traditional-format films, mk2 is this year setting up shop within the Film Market. The group helmed by Nathanaël and Elisha Karmitz will make its VR Kiosk technology available to market-goers, with a demonstration of immersive works presented at Cannes XR. Launched less than two years ago, the mk2 VR pod has already been sold in Asia, Brazil, and Scandinavia.
Represented by Morgan Bouchet, Orange will be present at Cannes XR on May 17 at 2:30 p.m. to discuss the situation for 5G technology and the democratization of VR. As organizers of the XR Grant since 2017 (whose past recipients Umami and Legacy have enjoyed successful careers), the Orange group will present a review of its many years of support to XR works at an evening event to be held on May 16.
Representing over 250 professional members working in the sectors of virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality, Uni-XR will also be present at Cannes. To celebrate its third anniversary, the French think-tank will be hosting a meeting on May 17. In addition, at a roundtable held the same day at 3:30 p.m., Fabien Siouffi from Uni-XR will discuss the legal aspects of immersive productions.
Wide will set up a base at the Film Market for the duration of Cannes XR. The only international sales company to be present on a permanent basis throughout Cannes XR, the company headed by Loïc Magneron will present its latest acquisitions (including 11.11.18 and Dans la peau de Thomas Pesquet) in optimum conditions, with screenings held in 8K via HTC Vive headsets.
As regards international film festivals, we can hail the presence of Génération Numérique (the association in charge of organizing the 360 Film Fest) and Immersity at Cannes XR. VRrOOm will also present the new functions of its application—launched with great success at the Venice Film Festival, and a partner of this year's MyFFF, VRrOOm is well on its way to becoming a new international distributor of VR and AR works.
Finally, thanks to a partnership with SpringboardVR, all of the films presented this year will be accessible for viewing for a period of three weeks by international studios with viewing facilities. This initiative will extend the viewing time of these works and allow them to reach a wider audience.