TORONTO (August 24, 2017) – FIVARS, The Festival of International Virtual & Augmented Reality Stories — Canada’s first and original VR/AR showcase — returns to Toronto September 15 -17 for its third year. FIVARS showcases a new wave of filmmakers and content producers who push the boundaries of virtual reality cinematography. The three day experience takes place at the House of VR (639 Queen St W) from10am-7pm daily.
The festival features top of the line VR technology and can accommodate 20 or more stations at a time on HTC Vive, Gear VR and Oculus Rift in addition to custom experiences. FIVARS carefully selects material that will not induce motion sickness and has partnered with SubPac to add tactile feedback to every station to enhance each story.
FIVARS showcases the best in cinematic VR and received over 200 entries, selecting the top 20 to bring to Toronto.This year FIVARS features VR films from Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, South Korea, United Kingdom, USA, Argentina and Peru.
“We are always looking for what represents the vanguard in VR while demonstrating a unique approach to the medium itself, ” says founder and executive director Keram Malicki-Sanchez. “We want to represent the spectrum of ideas, themes, genres, voices and territories.”
This year the festival will be held at the 2-storey House of VR at Queen and Bathurst. Tickets are sold in 2 hour blocks for individual days and grant the purchasers a wristband that can be used for access to talks (1 hour special presentation daily) with producers, directors, distributors and special guests, and a paper ticket with 40 minutes of viewing time that can be applied to the catalog of choices.
Tickets can be purchased at FIVARS Eventbrite for $40CAD + HST per 40 minutes of viewing material. FIVARS only allows ages 13+ for VR but the AR experiences can be viewed by all ages with a ticket purchase.
The official selections for the 2017 FIVARS Festival of International Virtual and Augmented Reality Stories have been finalized and announced.
All selections must have been released within September 2016 and September 2017. The adjudication panel had to make some very difficult choices with over 250 excellent entries from all over the world. The final selections represent offerings from 14 different countries in all genres and platforms.
They fall into several categories and are all in competition for People’s Choice, Best Passive Experience, Best Interactive Experience, Impact Award and Grand Jury Prize.
The FIVARS 2017 Selections are, by category and in alphabetical order:
A Little Love, Director Alton Glass, USA, 8:49 (Canadian Premiere)
When a successful hardworking mother finds herself too busy to make her daughters 8th birthday party on time – the girl makes an unusual wish, sending them on an unforgettable and eye-opening journey.
An Obituary, Director Jean Yoon, South Korea, 12:56 mins (North American Premiere)
Ki-un hears of Sang-Woo’s death and attends the funeral only to receive an email from his presumed deceased friend warning him not to come.
Ashes to Ashes, Director Ingejan Ligthart Schenk, Netherlands, 10:52 mins
A surreal, tragicomedy about how a dysfunctional family handles the dying wish of their grandfather. Seen through the ‘eyes’ of the deceased this short VR film gives a unique point of view on a bizarre set of family relationships.
Asteroids!, Director Eric Darnell, USA, 8 mins (Canadian Premiere)
Mac and Cheez are back with their robot sidekick Peas, this time on a dangerous, deep space mission. Disaster strikes as they are attacked by teeth-gnashing space bugs careening asteroids.
Dolphin Man, Director Benoit Lichtí, France, 10:15 mins
Experience freediving in the footsteps of Jacques Mayol and begin to understand what the underwater world has to offer us all.
Dreamtime 4K Stereoscopic, Director Jonathan Sims , USA, 4 mins (World Premiere)
DREAMTIME is a meditation on imagination and the unknown, and is the first cinematic use of Deep Dream to achieve a VR experience, placing you within a dream that is half human and half machine.
Extravaganza, Director Ethan Shaftel, USA, 5:45 mins (Canadian Premiere)
Busy executive (Paul Scheer) tests a VR headset that promises to be the future of entertainment… but is actually anything but forward thinking. Can technology change society for the better, or does it magnify our worst traits in new ways?
Gladiators in the Colosseum, Director Joerg Courtial, Germany, 6:05 mins
Drop into Rome 80 AD in the centre of the Colosseum surrounded by 50,000 cheering spectators as you witness Gladiators fight to the death, all while Emperor Titus looks on, waiting to pass his final judgement.
Guardian of the Guge Kingdom, Director Bin Huang, China, 7:12 mins
Meet Pasang Tsering, a 28-year-old Tibetan who follows his heart to be a guardian of Guge Relics and Guge culture, giving up all the favorable conditions of urban life.
IORANA Rapa Nui, Director Damián Turkieh, Argentina, 4:03 mins
Travel to the mysterious Easter Island, discover its ancestral culture, know its traditions and live the music of the most isolated place in the world with 3D spatial audio as if you were really there.
Kiss Me, Director Ryutaro Nakamura, Japan, 5:43 mins (World Premiere)
The new age of music videos is here. A 360, fully immersive take on the music video genre with the latest VR & 3D sound technology.
Miyubi, Director Félix Lajeunesse & Paul Raphaël, Canada, 40 mins
A Japanese toy robot – inhabited by you, the viewer – is gifted to a young boy on his birthday. Over the course of a year, you’ll experience a hilarious and endearing interactive story. Starring Jeff Goldblum, P.J Byrne, Emily Bergl, Owen Vaccaro, Richard Riehl, Ted Sutherland and Tatum Kensington Bailey.
My Brother’s Keeper, Director Connor Hair and Alex Meader, USA, 10:56 mins
“My Brother’s Keeper” is a Civil War inspired narrative that pushes the boundaries of immersive storytelling while remaining anchored in historical fact. It is the story of two estranged brothers who, fighting on opposing sides, unknowingly reunite one last time on the battlefield at Antietam.
Directed by the FIVARS 2016 winner of the Grand Jury Prize Connor Hair
Rose Colored, Director Adam Cosco, USA, 14 mins
Victoria’s personal A.I., Klive, is only doing what his programming considers will benefit his user. It’s his job to make sure she’s happy, no matter what, but deep down, Victoria knows something is amiss.
Sanctuary, Director Shivanya Mulekar. Canada, 8:11 mins (World Premiere)
A VR Documentary that captures the life of the Juhasz family who has been seeking sanctuary in a Canadian church since November 2014.
Songs of the Vine, Director Maira Clancy and Blake Montgomery, Peru & USA, 15:27 mins (Canadian Premiere)
Shot over the span of two months in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest, ‘Songs of the Vine’ immerses the viewer in the depths of the Amazon jungle, exposing them to the medicine songs and perspectives of Shipibo healers, and illustrates an ancient but increasingly relevant dynamic between humans and nature.
Submerged, Director Nishtha Jain, India, 8:10 mins
Climate change and defective government policies are precipitating one of the largest exoduses of migrant labor in the world.
Alteration, Director Jérome Blanquet, France, 18 mins
Alexandro volunteers for an experiment carried out to study dreams in this poetic trip into the future. He can’t imagine that he will be subjected to the intrusion of Elsa, a form of Artificial Intelligence who aims to digitize his subconscious in order to feed off of it.
The Cooties, Director Josh Gladstone, USA, 3:30 mins
You are in control of the content, in this one-of-a-kind live-action VR music video. The more you look around, the more things change.
The Dream Collector, Director Mi Li , China, 12 mins (North America premiere)
Join an ordinary old man and an optimistic dog living in a garbage dump, picking up the ‘garbage’ people that have been abandoned.
Floresta Encantada, Director Ygor Marotta and Ceci Soloaga aka VJ Suave, Brazil, 15 mins (North American Premiere)
Journey through an enchanted forest filled with magical characters that leads you to a shamanic experience.
The Golden Note, Director Chris Forde & Cedrik Portron, France/Canada, 36 mins (World Premiere)
Follow the Quest of Frenchman Jerome as he travels to Toronto in search of his father’s secret…
Halcyon, Director Benjamin Arfmann, USA & Canada, 5-50 mins
When the CEO of the world’s leading Virtual Reality company is murdered in VR, Detective Jules Dover is pulled down a rabbit hole that could threaten the very fabric of real life. Set in the year 2040, Halcyon is a futuristic murder mystery that explores the dark side of VR.
HooDoo, Director Catherine Salkeld, UK, 6:30 mins
Follow along on the adventures of Claw, a simple cat exploring a mysterious fragment of a forgotten world. With the help of the audience, will Claw get through his journey in one piece?
In His Presence, Brenda Colonna , USA, 15 mins (World Premiere)
A prayer and meditation app to spend time with a photogrammetric Jesus.
Manifest 99, Director Adam Volker, USA, 10 mins
Journey into the afterlife aboard a mysterious train inhabited by a murder of crows in this ominous and eerie virtual reality experience.
Manimal Sanctuary, Postopian Games, Canada 10 mins
Play an elder god, half coral reef half cthulhu, that surrounds Toronto Island. After the rest of the world has been devoured, the quirky Islanders provide you with your main food source, emotions.
Meta-Dimensional, Michaella Vu, USA, 6:31 mins (World Premiere)
After the death of their secretly brilliant father, two erratic sister’s discover a headset that allows them to dimensionally travel discovering their mysterious past.
UTURN, Director Ryan Lynch, USA, 10 mins (Canadian Premiere)
What happens when a young female coder joins a male-dominated floundering startup that’s deep in an identity crisis?
Under Neon Lights, Director Jono Brandel and Zach Richter, USA, 5 mins
Under Neon Lights is an interactive, colorfully animated VR music experience for The Chemical Brothers’ song “Under Neon Lights”, featuring St. Vincent, A psychological and physical coming-of-age story, Under Neon Lights is framed around a girl whose world builds in neon color as she runs through the different environmental stages of her life.
Pacha’s Pyjamas, Director Allah El Henson USA, Book
After an asthma attack, Pacha’s mother gives her a pair of magical pyjamas. When Pacha goes to sleep, the plants and animals on her pyjamas become her guides on a dream adventure.
Priya’s Mirror, Director Dan Goldman, USA/India, 10 mins
When Priya and her flying tiger Sahas come upon a castle sheltering women burned by acid attacks, she helps free them from their victimhood by confronting Ahankar, the demon-king who’s told them their scarred appearances have no place in society.
City of Ghosts, Director Olivier Asselin, Canada
City of Ghosts is an interactive, 360-degree mobile augmented reality film experience that allows users equipped with a smartphone, tablet or AR glasses, to interact freely in real space with life-size 3D virtual characters ? all within an elaborate scenario and even across several locations. City of Ghosts invites visitors to make a journey through time to relive a story of love, death, ghosts and technology all in glorious augmented 3D animation mixed with real places.
People’s Choice Award – Best Interactive Experience
DIR: Patrick Osborne
Production Company: Google Spotlight Stories
Grand Jury Prize
Real by Connor Hair
Connor Hair and Alex Meader
Country: USA | RT: 12m46s
Production Company: Perception Squared and Spliced Films
In 2015 the Winners were
People’s Choice Award – Best Immersive Spherical Video
Title: Sonar – A 360° Experience
Director: Philipp Maas, Dominik Stockhausen
Germany | 6m9s
Production Company: Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg GmbH
People’s Choice Award – Best Interactive Experience
Title: Apollo 11
DIR: VR Immersive Education
Ireland | RT: 19m
Production Company: VR Immersive Education
5-channel 360° video-Performance
Choreographer and Performer: Laura Stokes
Composer and sound designer: Soosan Lolavar
Director and media Designer: Nima Dehghani
Decompensation is a performative VR piece that attempts to recreate the psychological stages which refugees pass through when moving and settling into a new social/cultural context over the span of many years:
Early Arrival, Destabilization, Exploration, Return to Normal life, and Decompensation.
the failure of an organ (especially the liver or heart) to compensate for the functional overload resulting from disease.
the failure to generate effective psychological coping mechanisms in response to stress, resulting in personality disturbance or disintegration, especially that which causes relapse in schizophrenia.
In this participatory piece, the notion of “Displacement” is communicated through music, performance, and 360-degree video.
The viewer experiences three different presences:
1. Seeing other participants
2. Becoming a participant
3. Immersion in the virtual world of the performer.
An immersive perspective provided by virtual reality is hoped to inspire an empathy for the displaced individual. Therefore, VR aims to function as a type of empathy machine in which the immersive quality enables a sensory experience.
The work displaces the viewer in order to contemplate the displacement of the refugee. The immersive experience provided by virtual reality can increase empathy, through sensory experience. By activating the body and the senses, virtual reality brings new topologies of emotion, pleasure, and passion to the landscape of interaction.
Laura Stokes is a Pittsburgh-based movement artist and educator. Her greatest curiosity is how artistic movement practices and creative physical play affect the human condition from early childhood through adulthood. She aims to help integrate creative artistry and physicality into the educational world by dissolving dichotomies around the role of the body in learning. Laura’s collaboration with visual media artist Nima Dehghani on Decompensation, was her initiation into the world of choreographing dance for virtual reality.
Other most recent projects include: El Eswitch, a choreographed solo exploring the dynamics of code-switching in language and culture; co-creating and teaching The Contact Lab, workshops in Contact Improvisation with Jean-Paul Weaver; and her ongoing dedication to developing innovative creative movement classes for children. Laura holds a B.A. in dance from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania.
Nima Dehghani is a multidisciplinary artist, writer, and architect. Born in Tehran, Iran in 1986.
Humans, communication, individual conflicts and social discriminations with allusions to politics, have been the subject of most of his works. With a background in architecture and theater, he strives to build the most comprehensible virtual venues to convey his thoughts, to focus on the notion of displacement, home, diaspora and the purest relationship between human and space: Migration.
Nima works predominantly in the medium of performing arts and digital media and his goal is to find the most effective ways to influence the audience using new media. His research revolves around the core of Middle Eastern studies, social behavior in online networks and performativity of social actions.
Nima got his BA’s in Architecture from University of Science and Technology in Iran, and then moved to the US to get his Master of Fine Arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University with emphasis on digital media and performance.
Most of his past works have been performed or shown in Iran before 2013, and after that mainly in the US and different festivals in Spain, UK, Belgium, Czech, Georgia, and Germany.
As a playwright and director, Nima has won several awards, the last one before he leaves Iran was “The best young director of the year” in 2012.
Decompensation screens at FIVARS 2016 September 16-18th, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.
DIR: Patrick Osborne
Production Company: Google Spotlight Stories
Set inside their home, a beloved hatchback, Pearl follows a girl and her dad as they crisscross the country chasing their dreams. It’s a story about the gifts we hand down and their power to carry love. And finding grace in the unlikeliest of places.