LFF Expanded: London Film Festival announces XR strand
James R | On 03, Sep 2020
The London Film Festival is expanding its horizons this year with its first XR strand.
The new section of the festival will follow in the shoes of festivals such as Venice, Cannes and Raindance and feature virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality and live immersive performance.
LFF Expanded will be open throughout the BFI London Film Festival and, with the festival taking place both online and in cinemas, it will be hosted in a bespoke, dynamic new virtual exhibition space called The Expanse. This online space will house the LFF Expanded programme, curated by Ulrich Schrauth (LFF XR & Immersive Programmer) who has also worked closely with INVR.Space on The Expanse’s design.
The Expanse will feature a virtual gallery for 20 360-videos and immersive works, plus a line-up of live talks and events. There will also be an Opening event within The Expanse, and a dedicated XR & Immersive Audience Award will be announced at the Virtual LFF Audience Awards Ceremony on the closing day of the festival.
Audiences will be able to access The Expanse, connect with one another and view the works, using tethered and non-tethered (Oculus Quest) headsets. For those that do not have a headset at home, the Festival will have a number of headsets available for use at the BFI Southbank for attendees to book and experience the platform in-person. There will also be a 2D browser version of the platform for those wishing to view the theatre events at home. To view the works outside of the platform, attendees can access the festival’s 360-video programme via Oculus TV and the dedicated LFF 360 Player via WebXR, viewable in mobile VR-headsets.
XR Programmer Ulrich Schrauth said: “While the inaugural XR programme for the BFI London Film Festival will look different than what we had originally envisioned…out of necessity sometimes comes innovation and we are hugely excited to present our LFF Expanded plans for 2020. Shifting the full artistic programme into the virtual realm makes it even more accessible for all kinds of audiences and creates new opportunities for creative formats and artistic impression.”
The LFF has also also announced a new partnership with the National Theatre and its Immersive Storytelling Studio, which works with artists and emerging technologies to develop new content and experiences. The National Theatre will deliver the exhibition together with LFF in future years, and in 2020 presents the Studio’s VR immersive experience All Kinds of Limbo (pictured) as part of LFF Expanded. Inspired by National Theatre director Rufus Norris’ production of Small Island, it uses immersive technologies and a life-size volumetrically captured performance to take audiences on a unique musical journey through genres including reggae, grime, classical and calypso, reflecting the historic influence of West Indian and black culture on the UK music scene.
Toby Coffey, Head of Digital Development at the National Theatre said: “Immersive storytelling is an incredible genre that finds itself taking inspiration from both film and theatre and I can’t think of a more fitting partnership than one between the National Theatre and the BFI to celebrate this. Celebrating and recognising the richness of cultural diversity is.”
The 64th BFI London Film Festival will run from Wednesday 7th October to Sunday 18th October. The full Festival programme will be announced at an online launch on Tuesday 8th September and all tickets will be bookable from Monday 21st September.
Photo: All Kinds of Limbo, National Theatre. Photographer: Simon Sorted