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Virtual Reality Film Fest Tours N. America


It has been many years since virtual reality was in the public consciousness. If you went to arcades or amusement parks in the mid 1990’s you might recall agonizingly heavy headsets and clunky graphics like those found in Dactyl Nightmare. The possibility of virtual reality led to some excitement and speculation, but little pay-off. The promise of being able to journey to strange and amazing worlds with the help of a computer and a visor was something that got tucked away at the end of the 90s along with VHS and the Clinton administration.

Flash forward to 2014, the company Oculus VR, which had been founded in 2012 by Palmer Lucky following a succesful Kickstarter campaign, is bought out by Facebook to the tune of $2 billion. Since 2012, companies like Facebook, Sony, and Samsung have been exploring the possibility of a VR resurgence where it is now a major part of interactive entertainment rather than just a forgotten novelty, with a consumer version of the Oculus Rift due out Q1 2016, with competing devices to follow. With dev kits on the market for years now we have seen applications for everything from video gaming, to PTSD therapy and meditation. And now virtual reality is also taking a step into cinema.

Virtual reality agency Kaleidoscope announced the Kaleidoscope VR Film Festival Presented by Vrideo, a multi-city tour set to showcase the best in virtual reality filmmaking and artists working in this cutting edge field. From August 22 to October 14, 2015, Kaleidoscope will tour ten cities across North America.

Using headsets from Oculus and Samsung, viewers will experience new forms of interactive narratives and environments. You can go from walking inside the Van Gogh painting The Night Cafe, traverse the Korean DMZ, to analyzing the neural synapses that cause the feeling of love.

nepal“We have seen the gaming industry embrace virtual reality, and now the film industry is on the verge of the same breakthrough,” said Kaleidoscope co-founder René Pinnell.  “After the unprecedented popularity of virtual reality components in this year’s major film festivals – including Cannes, Sundance, Tribeca and Hot Docs – as well major film and television studio’s recent VR initiatives, including Jurassic World, Wild, Interstellar and Game of Thrones, we want the chance to highlight the incredible independent filmmakers who are pioneering this new film language.”


Films include:

  • THE NEPAL QUAKE PROJECT (U.S., Dir: David Darg)
    Narrated by Susan Sarandon, THE NEPAL QUAKE PROJECT uses Virtual Reality technology to immerse viewers in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake. The film not only marks the first in natural disaster VR, but it represents the future of news and action.

  • THE NIGHT CAFÉ  (U.S., Dir: Mac Cauley)
    THE NIGHT CAFÉ is an immersive VR environment that allows you to explore the world of Vincent van Gogh first hand. Take a moment to enjoy his iconic sunflowers in three dimensions or walk around the chair he painted in his bedroom to see it from another angle. Step into the vivid colors straight from his palette.

  • BRIGHT SHADOWS (U.S., Dir: Michael Catalano)
    Inspired by the abstract visual music animators of the early to mid-1900's, Bright Shadows is an 11 minute computer generated animation of dynamic, colorful abstractions choreographed to instrumental music. It is comprised of seven distinct movements with unique emotional tones that are brought to life with high-quality lighting and shading techniques and rendered in stereoscopic 3D.

  • BUTTS (U.S., Dir: Tyler Hurd)
    Widely credited as the first animated cartoon for virtual reality, BUTTS is a story about love, trust, and learning what it means to be truly free. Transport yourself into a brand new bright and colorful world of happiness and excitement, and make some friends along the way. BUTTS will make you laugh, cry, fill you with unimaginable bliss, and return you to that innocent place of childlike wonder you've long forgotten.

  • CLOUDS OVER SIDRA (U.S., Dir: Chris Milk and Gabo Arora)
    CLOUDS OVER SIDRA follows a twelve year old in the Za’atari camp in Jordan – home to 84,000 Syrian refugees. It follows her to school, to her makeshift tent and even to the football pitch. The film was commissioned as part of the UN’s advocacy at the World Economic Forum in Davos to state and business leaders and offers a unique perspective into the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people.

  • COLOSSE (Israel, UK, U.S., Producer: Joseph Chen)
    COLOSSE is a real-time virtual reality storytelling experience, with a stylized, character-focused visual language. While the viewer has no direct control over the action, the progression of the narrative is gaze-based. The viewer's gaze – things the viewer pays the most attention to – directs the experience around them, giving a subtle influence over events as they unfold. The story of the long lost Great Spirits known as the COLOSSE explores themes of fear, power and respect.

Much like the nickelodeons of old turning into the cinemas and movie studios of today, VR is growing from novelty, to entertainment revolution.

To learn more, go to:

2015 Kaleidoscope VR Film Festival

Portland, OR  - Saturday, August 22
Seattle, WA  - Wednesday, August 26
Vancouver, BC  - Saturday, August 29
San Francisco, CA  - Tuesday, September 15
Los Angeles, CA  - Wednesday, September 23
Denver, CO  - Saturday, September 26
Montreal, QC  - Thursday, October 1
Toronto, ON  - Sunday, October 4
New York, NY  - Tuesday, October 6
Austin, TX  - Wednesday, October 14

Cool Sound + Vision Fest 2015 Heats Up Film Society of Lincoln Center

The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson

cbgb060H The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Sound + Vision series explores a range of musical artists, genres, and styles offering both premieres and retrospectives. This year’s edition, the third running from July 29 - August 7, 2015, includes music documentaries that spans styles as diverse as Dominguinhos (directed by Mariana Aydar, Joaquim Castro, Eduardo Nazarian) — a moving portrait of the Latin Grammy-winning singer, composer, and master accordion player who rose to prominence playing with hitmakers Toquinho, Gal Costa, and Gilberto Gil — to In Search of Haydn (directed by Phil Grabsky) a 2012 documentary about the life and inventive work of Joseph Haydn, a composer who influenced both Mozart and Beethoven and crucially shaped chamber music.

Also included is James Szalapski’s low-key 1976 country-music classic, Heartworn Highways, shot in Austin and Nashville, which features a mix of early performances by bands in the “Outlaw Country” movement, as well as snapshots of more intimate moments. As a result,  2015’s Heartworn Highways Revisited (directed by Wayne Price) will be shown as well.  Channeling the spirit and unhurried, intimate style of Szalapski’s original, this doc follows talented young musicians on the outskirts of the Nashville scene today. Director Wayne Price and musicians Shelly Colvin and Phil Hummer will on hand for a Q&A.

The legendary documentarian and music-video director Julien Temple will be spotlighted as  a fellow traveler of seminal English rockers like The Clash, The Kinks, and the Sex Pistols. He gets his due with a retrospective highlighting both his greatest and his latest, The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson and will be in attendance. 


The Wilco Johnson film thoroughly deconstructs the traditional format of docs and is a must see for anyone interested in non-fiction films or classic rockers.

Also noteworthy is the debut of Danny Says, a chronicle of the outrageous and brilliant counterculture career of Danny Fields, confidant of Warhol superstars Edie Sedgwick and Nico, and the man who helped get major record label deals for bands like the Ramones and The Stooges. Director Brendan Toller will be on hand for a post screening discussion.

The series also features three live multimedia performances by Talibam!, Preston Spurlock & Friends, and Foxes in Fiction in The Film Society’s amphitheater.

In addition, Film Society photographer David Godlis will feature a companion exhbition of his seminal pictures of New York punk rock scene that included such major music makers as the Ramones, Blondie and Television.

This year’s edition again offers both a testament to the enduring and mutually enriching relationship between cinema and music and an extension of the range of sounds to be considered.

To learn more, go to:

Sound + Vision 2015
July 29 - August 7, 2015

The Film Society of Lincoln Center

Dinner & a Movie in Long Beach

Dinners are good, so are movies, dinner AND a movie is even better. But how about dinner and movie on the beach? Organized by the the Long Beach International Film Festival (LBIFF) and Infiniti of Lynbrook, Taste on the Beach and Shorts on the Beach, on August 7, 2015 between National Blvd. and Edwards Blvd. in Long Beach NY has the perfect evening in store of the foodie cinema aficionado.

Sample local Long Beach fare and other top regionally based restaurants' finest foods, wine, craft beer and cocktails while rubbing elbows with celebrities such as Liza Huber of “Passions” and Sage Spoonfuls fame as well as renowned culinary masterminds and personalities like Chef Nicole Roarke of Heneghan’s Tavern, Rob Petrone from Verizon Fios1 TV’s Restaurant Hunter and Danny Gagnon from Top Chef.

For the cinematically inclined, the free Shorts on the Beach fest has a wide range of films on display. Among the many interesting titles being featured will include director Brooke Wagstaff’s animated film and Award-winning Vimeo Staff Pick Missing U; an animated tale about the letter “I” and her perilous adventure in search of her missing “U”. As a Long Island highlight, Director Peter Frizalone’s HBO Project Greenlight short Mommy will be making its World Premiere and begging the question “Do you know who is in your house?”.

Other films include director Chris Jordan-Bloch’s documentary on an ever-growing world issue Dryden- The Small Town That Changed the Fracking Game where the power of community takes on the power of fracking. Director/Producer Stephanie Donnelly’s narrative/comedy The Cannoli where a Long Island family dinner turns tragic and a choice must be made between dessert and family. Long Beach International Film Festival Programmer Steve Shor recently said of the event, “The Shorts on the Beach program is a wonderful representation of what is in store for the Long Beach International Film Festival in September.”

To learn more, go to:

Taste on the Beach
Shorts on the Beach
August 7, 2015

Beach TheatreBeachfront at National Blvd.
Long Beach, NY

NY Asian Film Fest '15 Features Greats From Japan, Korea, & Hong Kong

Metting Dr. Sun

Spanning cinematic history and genres ranging from high-brow art to the most base thrill fests, the New York Asian Film Festival (June 26 - July 11, 2015) continues to bring together films old and new from Korea, Japan, and China to New York.  Organized by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Subway Cinema, NYAFF is now in its 14th edition, and is holding screenings at The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater (165 West 65th Street, between Amsterdam and Broadway) and the SVA Theater (333 West 23rd Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues).

NYAFF’s Opening Night presentation will be the North American Premiere of Philip Yung’s Port of Call. The film centers on the brutal murder of a 16-year-old Hunan girl who moves to Hong Kong with her family and falls into prostitution. Sabu’s Chasuke’s Journey, which was in competition at the 2015 Berlin Film FestivalJourney has a fanciful, manga-esque story about an angel living in Heaven that falls in love with a human woman that is doomed to die, and now he must endeavor to rescue her.

CAFE WAITING LOVEThe lineup also includes the World Premiere of Fire Lee’s black comedy Robbery; the International Premiere of Anh Sang-hoon’s erotic period actioner Empire of Lust; the North American Premieres of Chen Jiabin’s directorial debut A Fool, Daihachi Yoshida’s fantasy-drama Pale Moon, Lau Ho-leung’s action-comedy Two Thumbs Up, and Nobuhiro Yamashita’s slacker/rock drama La La La at Rock Bottom; and the U.S. premiere of Yee Chih-yen’s high-school noir Meeting Dr. Sun. Other exciting highlights include Kulikar Sotho’s gorgeous meditation on Cambodia’s tragic Khmer Rouge past and its impact on the present, The Last Reel; Ryuichi Hiroki’s ensemble love-and-sex drama Kabukicho Love Hotel; Boo Ji-young’s superb labor-rights underdog drama Cart; and Sion Sono’s berserk rap musical Tokyo Tribe.

NYAFF also looks to the past of Asian cinema. In 2014, Japanese film legends Bunta Sugawara (who has been in too many gangster films to name, along with the Oscar winning Spirited Away) and Ken Takakura (who appeared in Sydney Pollack’s The Yakuza and Ridley Scott’s Black Rain) passed away, leaving behind a legacy of thrilling, brutal films, and hard boiled anti heroes from their decades of work in cinema. NYAFF will pay tribute to both of these men with a series of screenings called The Last Men of Japanese Film, which includes a lavish brand-new 2K remaster of Kinji Fukasaku’s Battles Without Honor or Humanity, which tracked the rise of yakuza gangsters in post-war Japan. Other films being shown include Abashiri Prison, Cops vs. Thugs, The Man Who Stole the Sun, Tales of Chivalry in Japan, and Wolves, Pigs and Men.

NYAFF is definitely one of the most jam packed festivals in NYC. With it’s wide range of films, this fest has something for everybody.

For more information, go to:

The New York Asian Film Festival
June 26 - July 11, 2015

Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th Street, between Amsterdam and Broadway
New York, NY 10023

SVA Theater
333 West 23rd Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues
New York, NY 10011


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