Official FIVARS 2020 Selections

Here are the official selections for the 6th Annual FIVARS – Festival of International Virtual & Augmented Reality Stories

24 Hours in Basecamp, Director Manne Nyman, Sweden, 7m 22s | Passive

Meet the people at the foot of the highest mountain in the world. In the sprawling city of tents that is called Everest Base Camp, you get to meet the climbers who are determined to reach the top of the world for the first time, and those who have worked on the mountain for several years.


A Fire at Chernobyl, Director Ash Khatibi, Denmark, 13m 44s | Passive

The haunting story of a family caught in the Chernobyl disaster. Irina, Yuri, and their daughter Nataliya are a close family hoping for a stable life in Pripyat, but when a fire breaks out at the nearby nuclear power plant and Yuri is called in to fulfill his firefighter duties, the life of the family is turned upside down.


A Safe Guide to Dying, Director Dimitris Tsilifonis, 12m 26s | Passive

The quest of a self-deprecating man exploring different suicide methods inside a lifelike videogame simulation.


Along the River of Spacetime, Director Elizabeth LaPensee, USA, 20m – | Interactive – Seated

Along the River of Spacetime is a virtual reality game meets 360 film about activating Anishinaabe star knowledge to enhance river ecosystems in the Great Lakes.


Arbaeen Walk, Director Amy Claire Nelson, USA, 21m 30s | Passive

Arbaeen Walk introduces you to travellers who have set out on this sacred 50-mile journey. Each segment covers one day of the trek from Najaf to Karbala where Husayn is buried. Along the way, we encounter hosts as they assemble tents and tables to provide food, tea, massages, medicine, wifi, sleeping mats and prayer space to fellow pilgrims – all for free. Some share personal stories of inspiration. Others offer their take on the social and political implications of Karbala. Why have they come, and what does this walk mean to them in the world today?


Being Perfectly Frank, Directors Keram Malicki-Sanchez, Michael Okarma, USA, 10m8s | Passive

A man brings a pair of soldier’s dog tags to an eccentric medium to contact someone presumably lost during the Korean War.


Believe, Director Maud Clavier, France, 5m | Passive

While watching 360 shots in Lebanon, you hear maronite seminarists telling you their vision of Lebanon just before their ordination, after six years of studies. You see that they live in a beautiful but destroyed country and that there are diverse religions. But they decide to have a peaceful overview of life rather than an egocentric war with other communities.


care(less) 2, Directors Lindsay Seers, Keith Sargent, United Kingdom, 16m 29s| Passive

Care(less) 2 addresses the phenomenon of hallucination and embodied viewing in relation to our current social and economic constructs regarding attitudes to the elderly and social care in Britain. In its form it is concerned with the hallucinatory condition of Virtual Reality, which feels closer to how the mind itself works rather than how this is conveyed in the more historic single point of view film mediums. Alongside the medium itself the work questions the dubious cultural conventions/constructs we live by and their incoherence.


Cosmic Laughter of Cucci Binaca, Director Jonathan Sims, USA, 5m | Passive

The Cosmic Laughter of Cucci Binaca” premiered at FIVARS 2019. Since then, she has had a makeover. Now with innovative use of Depthkit’s volumetric technology and lush, detailed 360 ambisonic sound design, “The Cosmic Laughter of Cucci Binaca” is next level 360 cinema like you have never seen.


Cosmic Laughter of Cucci Binaca_poster
Cosmic Laughter of Cucci Binaca by Jonathan Sims


Gravity VR, Directors Fabio Rychter, Amir Admoni, Brazil, 14m | Interactive – Room Scale

Gravity VR takes place in a surreal world with no ground, everything that exists is forever falling. Houses, clothes, cars, ruins of a civilization. Everything just falls. And the player too. But even though all things are falling at full speed, the general feeling is peaceful. In this world without walls, horizon, up and down orientation, it is impossible to perceive movement. There is no vertigo or fear. The impression is that you are floating in zero gravity.


HIRAETH, Director Yao Wang, Canada, 2m 11s | Passive

Hiraeth is a fully hand-drawn and animated immersive experience with spatial audio and an ambisonic score featuring 12 world instruments. Drawn in the style of traditional Chinese water painting, it is the first of its kind and pushes the artistic limits of VR. “Hiraeth” is a Welsh word that means “a homesickness for a place of your ancestry that you have never been, where you may never return to again.” It describes the sentiment of many children of immigrants who have lost touch with their ancestral roots, yet remain curious and inquiring. This experience explores the mind of those with “hiraeth”, bringing them into the land they have been seeking, yet pushing them to reflect on their identity and legacy. The mysterious village in Hiraeth is based on a famous fable, “The Peach Blossom Spring”, written in 421 CE by Chinese author Tao Yuanming. It symbolizes an utopia stuck in time, unconcerned about the world, the wars, and the flipping pages of history.


Hominidae, Director Brian Andrews, United States, 6m 41s | Passive

Hominidae depicts an ecosystem of x-ray visibility. Creatures have evolved in surprising ways, where humans, birds, spiders and frogs share unique anatomies. This experience follows an Arachnid Hominid, an intelligent creature with human and spider physiology, as she struggles to raise her young in a hostile environment. The story is told in five vignettes, from the birth of the children to the death of the mother in the teeth of her prey.


Hominidae still - FIVARS 2020
Hominidae still – FIVARS 2020


Impact: Beyond the Night Sky, Director Kath Dooley, Australia, 8m 33s | Passive

This immersive 360 VR video explores impacts and collisions between bodies in the solar system, shedding light on the origins of our cosmic backyard. It is inspired by the work of Dr Katarina Miljković, a planetary scientist who specialises in planetary geoscience and space exploration at Curtin University’s Space Science and Technology Centre in Perth, Western Australia. Combining space imagery from NASA, observational footage of Miljković at work and recreated scenes of the moments that propelled her on the path towards a career in Planetary Science, the project seeks to inspire an audience of all ages, and to promote STEM learning for girls.


Indirect Actions, Director Maranatha Hay, USA, 1h 55m | Passive

A curious documentary filmmaker follows social media-driven outrage to the icy prairie of North Dakota only to discover a deep divide between two communities – and a dark underside of unintended consequences.


Iracema’s Promise, Director Larissa Ribeiro, Brazil, 10m 21 | Passive

Maria Eduarda is a six years old. The girl was playing at home when she was bitten by a scorpion. Iracema, her mother, desperately searched for a boat to take her daughter to the nearest hospital at Belém downtown. Mary was between life and death. Upon seeing an image of Mary of Nazareth, holy patroness of this Amazon city, Iracema makes a promise to save her daughter’s life. With her child recovery she now needs to leave her house in a journey to fulfill her promise.


Inside Lieutenant Gustl, Director Sebastian Brauneis, Austria, 26m | Passive

Based on a play by Arthur Schnitzler and being one of the first virtual theatre experiences, “Inside Lieutenant Gustl” immerses the viewer in the mental headspace of a young Austrian officer from 1900 grappling with an existential crisis. His personal journey echoes our own society’s search for identity, authenticity and a binding reference system to face today’s endless and overwhelming possibilities.

Inside the Western Flyer, Directors Mike Cuales, Ernie Flowers, United States, 8m 33s | Passive

In 1940 Nobel Prize winning author John Steinbeck and visionary marine biologist Ed Ricketts undertook a 6-week trip to the Sea of Cortez on the sardine boat the Western Flyer. In the process they discovered around 50 new marine species and cataloged over 560 species of fauna. Out of that trip came Steinbeck’s classic book of marine ecology, philosophy, and adventure: The Log from the Sea of Cortez. Starting in 2018, the Western Flyer underwent a $2M restoration to turn it into a state-of-the-art research and education boat so that its legacy can live on.

Four times sunk, the Western Flyer, still permeated with the spirits of John Steinbeck and marine biologist Ed Ricketts, tells the story of their 1940 expedition to the Sea of Cortez – a tale of marine biology, philosophy, and literature.


In the Land of the Flabby Schnook, Director Francis Gelinas, Canada, 6m 5s | Passive

A little brother asks his big sister how she managed to stop being afraid of the dark. She draws him into a succession of dreamlike tableaus where everything comes alive and through which the little brother learns to confront his own fears. In the Land of the Flabby Schnook is a contemplative film in which the viewer discovers a magical place through the eyes of the protagonists.


In the Land of the Flabby Schnook VR poster - FIVARS 2020
In the Land of the Flabby Schnook


Into the Red, Director Linda Brieda, Germany, 30m | Interactive – Room Scale

“Into the Red” is a virtual journey to Mars – and into the psyche of the missing mission leader Kara. “There is life on Mars!” was the last message the world received from her. Since then, nothing but silence. “Into the Red” enables a chosen astronaut to travel to Mars to discover the secret behind Kara’s mysterious message and her disappearance. With each step, he dives deeper into her past, her memories, dreams and traumas. Only at the end, when he helps Kara make peace with her past, does he understand what Kara meant with “there is life on Mars”.


Man Under Bridge, Director Hanna Västinsalo, Finland, 6m 41 | Passive

Johan Knut Harju (1910-1976) was a self-taught writer and historian, but also a homeless alcoholic. Harju had a unique talent to document his and his peers’ lives with a personal voice that invites the person in and see the world from his point of view. Harju collected his stories for a future person so that the people living under the bridges would not be forgotten. The virtual reality experience combines the Helsinki City Museum photo archives, recordings of Harju’s voice, 360 footage inside a historical tram with animation that is inspired by Harju’s drawing style into an experience that allows the audience to have a moment with Harju in 1960’s Helsinki.


Missing Pictures: Birds of Prey, Director Clement Deneux, France, 8m | Interactive – Seated

Hard times, bad luck, tight spots, mishaps, quarrels, setbacks, hiccups, destiny… Some films, it seems, become recipes for misfortune, never to see the light of day.

American director Abel Ferrara takes us with him on a journey through the heart of the story brought to life thanks to custom-designed animations based on his original films’ pre-production material. The director is shot with volumetric cameras and encrusted into the VR experience. He narrates key points of the storyline, why the movie was important for him and why it collapsed.


Mutatis, Director Mali Arun, France, 12m | Passive

The VR film “Mutatis” by French artist Mali Arun explores a diffuse frontier between scientific and mythological pictures of organic and human landscapes. At night, strange men in white suits enter a botanical garden. Nature is abundant and fascinating. The site guard takes this group to the water lily pond. A young woman’s inanimate body is found there. The garden hides other bodies, buried, sunk in the deep flora. Then a strange light appears from the women’s bodies.


Paired, Director Andres Rovira, JC Diaz, United States. 8m | Interactive AR

Paired is an augmented reality short film that delves into the lives of two socks, Saul and Sadie. These two “solemates” do everything together around Randy’s feet and are finding a monotony to their relationship, but when they are separated from each other at the laundromat, Sadie and Saul find themselves plunged into the world of lost misfit clothes and along their adventures, they learn the value of taking risks and learn to truly appreciate their partnership.


Rebuilding Notre Dame, Director Chloé Rochereuil, France, 16m46s | Interactive – Seated

Featuring stunning footage filmed weeks before the fire and incredible access at the heart of the destroyed cathedral after the fire, this film allows everyone to dive at the heart of the iconic tragedy of 2019 that shook the entire world. Through the personal stories of the leaders who will decide the future of this iconic cathedral, “Rebuilding Notre Dame” delivers an emotional story celebrating this gem of human history and architecture.


Sleepless Eyes, Director Sojung Bahng, Sungeun Lee, South Korea, 10m | Interactive – Room Scale

This Korean soldier compares his undiagnosed narcolepsy to quantum mechanics in this eerie memoir.


Simulated Fashion, Director Time Studio, Qatar, 7m 24s | Passive

In this film, fashion meets new technologies, arts, and filmmaking to celebrate voices from the Middle East using time in 360 environments. The Art foundation students worked collaboratively with their classmates, to produce a virtual reality fashion film. The film showcases the fashion design seniors’ collections at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar. Each fashion collection embodies ideas such as self-discovery and living in the future.


Swing, Director Mari Jaye Blanchard, USA, 6m | Interactive – Seated

Swing is a narrative, virtual-reality film combining 2D, 3D and 2.5D animation techniques. The story unfolds in overlapping acts that depict the internal and external struggles of a frustrated girl who is attempting and failing to swing on a playground swing. As she struggles with the swing, she imagines the demise of the children swinging successfully around her, and anger builds until she ends up taking it out on herself. When she finally hits rock bottom, she looks up to where she had been. A new perspective is found.


Symphony of Noise VR, Director Michaela Pnacekova, Germany, 15m | Interactive – Room Scale

In this sonic VR experience, you will embark on an immersive journey – to listen differently to your daily life, the world around you and find the music within. Immerse yourself in the world of exploration of sonic landscapes in high-end spatial sound design where you can make, hear, see and feel sound in a way not possible before and compose your own score. Listen intently. Can you already hear the world becoming music in your ears?


The Cheat’s Revival, Director David Smith, USA, 8m 35s | Passive

The Cheat River has a storied history. Not so long ago, the river ran orange for miles at a time from acid mine drainage, but revitalization efforts have brought the waters back to life, both literally and figuratively. The once-dead river now supports an aquatic ecosystem that draws in anglers from around the region and world-class conditions that whitewater rafters, kayakers and squirt boaters enjoy. This 360-degree video takes viewers on the Cheat, as well as below the water and high above, to tell the story of how the Cheat’s revival is impacting people in the region.


The Dawn of Art, Director Pierre Zandrowicz, France, 10m | Interactive – Seated

The year is 35 000 years BC, this is where we left our first trace. More than 400 paintings were found in this cave, Chauvet Pont d’Arc, (also called La Grotte Chauvet) made by the First humans. Who were they? Why did they choose this place as a sanctuary? What was their relationship with nature? With the spiritual world? The Dawn of Art is a trip to the very heart of our origins, where bears were gods. Where men invented their first creative gesture. Narrated by Daisy Ridley and Cécile de France, “The Dawn of Art” is a Virtual Reality experience including both an immersive film and a virtual visit of the Chauvet cave which contains some of the best-preserved figurative cave paintings in the world.


The Echoing of Fire & Life, Director Judit Samper Albero, Spain, 14m | Passive

The Moors and Christians Festival of Biar recalls the conflict between the Almohads, a Moorish people, and the troops of King James I of Aragon The Conqueror which took place in the year 1245. The festivities began centuries ago and are dedicated to the Virgin Mare de Déu de Gracia. Among its most outstanding acts are “La Entrada” (“The Entrance”) on May 10th, “La Bajada de la Virgen” (“The Carrying of the Virgin”), the lighting of hundreds of bonfires in the mountains surrounding the town, as well as “El Baile de los Espias” (“The Spies’ Dance”) which takes place in the afternoon of May 11th and concludes with the arrival at the castle installed in the main square of the effigy of La Mahoma.


The Heart of Puerto Rico, Directors Peter Decherney, Jean Lee, USA, 6m3s | Passive

A 360-degree documentary about artists in Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria. This episode features A young Puerto Rican trans, queer, and inter-sex community who are building an alternative drag scene.


The Pantheon of Queer Mythology, Director Enrique Agudo, Spain, 7m 2s | Passive

The Pantheon of Queer Mythology is a window into the worlds of a collective of Queer Deities that propose a way to question, empathize, celebrate, repent, resist, consume, abstract, identify, regenerate, and love.


Pantheon of Queer Mythology
Pantheon of Queer Mythology


Walking Past Abandoned Houses, I Think of Eric, Director Terrance Reimer, USA, 9m 20s | Passive

Portsmouth, Ohio (USA) poet Barbara Costas-Biggs reads her poem “Walking Past Abandoned Houses, I Think of Eric” about losing her friend to an opioid overdose, within a visually compelling immersive 360º video and ambisonic audio montage.


Warsaw Rising, Director Tomasz Dobosz, Poland, 16m16s | Passive

Warsaw Rising tells a story based on the fate of one of Warsaw insurgents, Capt. Władysław Sieroszewski alias “Sabała”, who received a note with a message from his daughter when he was leaving to fight in the Uprising in August 1944. At the time, he did not know yet that the note would influence his further fate.


With the Wind and the Stars, Director Rachel Bracker, USA, 20m 59s | Interactive

With the Wind and the Stars is a 360/VR docuseries that takes you on an adventure into the lives of women who fly. Episode One features Teara Fraser: a pilot, mother, and proud Métis woman setting out to launch her own airline.