VR Films Are Expected to Make a Splash at Sundance Festival

At the Sundance Film Festival in Park City next month, attendees can expect to watch both great films and virtual reality experiences. Ten of the 13 installations in the festival’s New Frontier program involve VR or other digital interactive technology. These projects use several different brands of headsets, from Oculus Rift to Google Cardboard and Samsung’s Gear VR, and for one of the first times, the content for these devices will be original, not a promotion for an existing movie.

Samsung_Gear_VR_HeadsetSundance senior programmer Shari Frilot believes that the VR technology is now so advanced that filmmakers will embrace the new medium.

“I’ve never really seen anything like this where a new technology is so muscularly poised to hit the market,” Frilot told Wired. “This is the year that we’re really going to get wired into this hardware in a major way. It really has the potential to shift the [filmmaking] terrain quite a bit in a very significant and deep way.”

The VR projects slated for Sundance cover a variety of genres and topics. Max Rheiner will simulate the feeling of flying with “Birdly.” Others are more non-fiction related with accounts of children that fled Syria or an interactive walk in the woods. Some of the works are simple walk-throughs, but other projects like the one about the Iranian Revolution of 1979 are more like a video game.

This is hardly the first VR spectacle at Sundance. Last year, fans could watch the space dogfighting game “EVE: Valkyrie.” Multimedia artist Chris Milk also presented an immersive experience that made people feel like they were at the “Sound and Vision” Beck concert.