VR Writ Large Over Cannes MarchÉ NEXT Programme

Organisers behind the Cannes Marché’s third NEXT event set to run from May 12-18 have lined up an expanded future of cinema showcase that places heavy emphasis on the fast-rising world of virtual reality.

For the first time NEXT events will take place at the entrance of the Village International on the Pantiero side – the site previously occupied by Canal+ – and will feature installations, interactive films, screenings, conferences and workshops on subjects such as big data, theatres of the future, and VOD opportunities.

The NEXT schedule will include 15 innovative companies that will conduct business at the NEXT Pavilion. Creative Wallonia and the Canadian Film Center will have their own corner. The full NEXT programme will be announced shortly.


VR Days programme

The centerpiece is the VR Days programme, a rich roster featuring work from the world’s leading exponents that takes place over May 15 and 16 and stems from a clamour by content creators to focus on arguably the most seductive growth area in entertainment. (Screen International is the media partner for VR Days.)

Industry attendees who obtain tickets the day before will be able to sample from the comfort of rotating chairs a multitude of 30-minute screening programmes comprising more than 35 VR projects.

Each slot will screen twice and is curated by international partners from a handful of countries with active VR industries. After the viewing session, attendees will move to the adjoining conference room to discuss the nuts and bolts of production and distribution with the creative brains behind the works.

VR screenings will include work from acclaimed Montreal-based creators Felix and Paul, as well as Denmark’s Makropol, Madagascar director Eric Darnell, and ARTE France.

PickupVRCinema will run the VR screenings because, according to the Marché, “it is the first space entirely dedicated to VR in France where audiences can discover VR content (movies and experiences alike) in the best conditions.”

“We see a boom of requests and opportunities this year for NEXT,” said Marché executive director Jérôme Paillard. “The fast evolution of the market is a catalyst for innovations from every domain, from financing to marketing.


Oculus Story Studio among presenting attendees

In addition, NEXT will present two VR projects in the making: Fan Club by Vincent Ravalec (a-Bahn) andNEXT by Olivier Pesch (Samsa Films). Oculus Story Studio will discuss its early forays into VR and storytelling in the medium.

VR installations include the Matrix-like Real Virtuality by Artanim, a multi-user immersive platform combining a 3D environment with a real stage set, and Giant by Milica Zec and Winslow Turner Porter III, a five-minute exploration of war presented by HP.

“NEXT pavilion and its programming are exploding in sync with the arrival of VR and interactive films on the market,” said the Marché’s head of industry programmes Julie Bergeron.

“It was important for us to find a way of showing these films as a collective experience and offer a space where they can be presented in a market environment, not only as an individual experience. With the VR screening room, we are pioneering the possibility to book a market screening and offer a collective viewing of VR to the Marché participants.”

Bergeron said the schedule would break new ground. “For the industry, one of the big discussions we will have is how monetisation will evolve. There’s more and more content but it’s not the same model as film and it needs to be worked out… Who is going to pay for it and make money out of it?”

Bergeron added. “For film-makers [VR is] really powerful. In two or three minutes you understand physically and intellectually and emotionally everything about the subject… Film-makers understand very fast that they can tell the story with empathy. It’s a new way of storytelling.”


A ‘panorama’ of diversity

Michel Reilhac, artistic consultant for VR Days who has curated a special programme, said: “This first-ever VR Days at NEXT in Cannes proposes a panorama of the incredible diversity of the international VR landscape. 2016 is the birth year of VR as a new media accessible for everyone.

“I am amazed to see how artists, film-makers, animators, illustrators, writers… are already grasping the platform and contributing to the creation of a new language: the immersive storytelling where the spectator experiences empathy with the story, where the story becomes a total experience. This rich diversity is making virtual reality as a new art form. The VR Days prolific programme is the witness of its birth.”

Josh Sobel of US partner Furious M, which only began conversations with the Marché during the Frontières International Co-Production Market that recently concluded in Brussels, said the showcase offered the chance to influence public thinking on the medium.

“Furious M has been focused on bringing high-concept VR to the masses,” said Sobel. “We want to shape the way the public views VR and we believe that exposing them to high quality content in the right way is key to the success of this new medium. We work with storytellers and film-makers to bring their VR vision to the public.”


NEXT VR Days Sunday May 15 and Monday May 16

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