Kaohsiung Film Festival Announces the Shortlist for VR Short Film Competition, the Largest of its kind in Asia
Following the shortlist announcement of 2022 Venice Immersive, the largest XR festival worldwide, the Kaohsiung Film Festival (KFF) today (August 23rd) announced the shortlist for its International Short Film Competition, VR Section. 22 shortlisted works from 13 countries will compete for VR Golden Fireball Award, VR Immersive Award, VR 360 Award and VR Special Mention, along with cash prizes totaling 11,000 USD in total.
Two of these works are produced by Taiwanese filmmakers: Director Singing Chen’s “The Man Who Couldn’t Leave” (shortlisted in Venice Immersive) and Director Kao Yi-Chun’s“Immersive Criminology Episode 1: LOST” featuring Chin Shih-Chieh as the voice actor.
KFF XR Dreamland is one of the biggest XR festivals in Asia, which includes KFF VR Competition, Taiwan’s only competition dedicated to VR works. The competition enters its fifth year, with a total of 229 works from 29 countries received, setting a record for the most entries. The lineup comprises internationally renowned works, with most of the 22 shortlisted works having their Asia premieres at the upcoming KFF shortly after their world premieres at the Venice Film Festival. The winners will be unveiled at the award ceremony on October 23rd.
Among the nominated directors, Singing Chen’s “Afterimages for Tomorrow” (2021) supported by Kaohsiung VR FILM LAB Originals has gained great attention internationally. This year, she ventured into the VR competitions of both the Venice and Kaohsiung Film Festivals with her second VR film “The Man Who Couldn’t Leave”. In this film combining experiences of victims of the White Terror, the audience is led to travel through history and time following the narration in an undeliverable farewell letter, and feel the lost emotion and history via immersive VR experience.
Director Kao Yi-Chun’s “Omniscient” was selected for the KFF VR Competition in 2021. For his “Immersive Criminology Episode 1: LOST” shortlisted this year, he again deploys Taiwanese folk elements and marionette performance to create this highly interactive and entertaining work, which features Chin Shih-Chieh’s voice acting performance that imperceptibly immerses the audience in silent horror.
Outstanding international works in the VR Competition this year have won acclaim at the Venice, Cannes, and Sundance Festival as well as SXSW and the NewImages Festival, offering a gorgeous panorama comprising various immersive experiences worldwide. For instance, the British VR romance “Glimpse” features the voice performance by Taron Egerton (“Kingsman: The Secret Service“) and Lucy Boynton (“Bohemian Rhapsody”), immersing the audience in a bitter-sweet romance. “Alex Honnold: The Soloist VR” fully shows Alex Honnold (known as the world’s boldest climber and featured in “Free Solo”, which won the Best Documentary Feature of The Academy Awards in 2018) climbing the Alps without ropes, confronting the audience with a breathtaking and shocking multi-perspective aerial experience.
Intriguing Moments: Delving into Historical Events
VR can achieve the subjective immersion that is unattainable in movies. Several VR works in the VR Competition contemplate dark histories of humankind. In “Tearless”, thrills of stories about Korean camp town comfort women are rendered via unique VR approaches. “Surviving 9/11: 27 Hours Under the Rubble” features the last survivor of 9/11 – the “angel in the rubble”, presenting shocking contrasts in the landscape before and after the collapse of the Twin Towers. “Container” shows a modern version of slave ships: human trafficking in Cambodia using shipping, and depicts the deep grief found in tragedies of exploitation in history.
Other VR works focus on the moments of world-changing events, immersing the audience in historic instants. In “The Leap”, the erection of the Berlin wall is epitomized by the leap of an East German soldier at an intersection between the two parts of Berlin. Set in Korea under Japanese Rule, “Kubo Walks the City” comprises fantastic animation with vibrations in juxtaposition with the sorrowful moment when the legendary Olympic athlete Sohn Kee-Chung won the gold medal. Comparable to a history of civilization, “From the Main Square” contemplates the incessant evolution of the world through wars and antagonism until the point of self-destruction. “Adult Children” shows the new daily life imposed on people during the pandemic in the UK, and the audience is led to watch a virtual play in a local virtual theater. Additionally, the not-to-be-missed “Montegelato” presents a collage composed of beautiful scenes of Monte Gelato waterfalls drawn from Italian movies.
Senses Aroused through Entertainment, Perfect Immersive Interaction
A number of selected interactive VR works offer great entertainment and excitement. With the Hawaiian missile crisis as the background, “On the Morning You Wake (To the End of the World)” is an eye-opening simulation of the end of the “Third World War”. In “Lavrynthos”, the audience’s mission is to help the protagonists escape the “non-Euclidean labyrinth” and the imposed millennial fate. In “Luna: Episode 1 – Left Behind” in a Hollywood animation style, the viewer is transformed into a robot accompanying the girl in an adventure toward the end. In the innovative animation “Lustration” (an Australian version of “Along with the Gods”), the bittersweet adventure of underworld law enforcers is illustrated with smooth lines.
“Unframed: Hand Puppets – Paul Klee”, a highly artistic VR work, represents the Swiss national treasure artist Paul Klee’s resistance to the Nazis and pursuit of freedom, with intriguing scenes created using 3-point perspective. “Midnight Story” produced in the UK renders unique British humor and vitality via elaborated animation and sound design. Filled with Japanese adolescent sentiments, “Thank You for Sharing Your World” is an inspiring tale of a visually impaired boy and his friend chasing after glaring sparks in the dark that symbolize their youth. A VR version of the “American Pie” film series, “Weird Times” depicts amusing fantasies and deeply-felt experiences of teenagers in constant fluctuations, like a young Werther..
Moreover, two transnational real-time VR immersive theater productions,“Gumball Dreams” and “Typeman” , offer unprecedented interactive experiences based on online performance using VR CHAT. In “Gumball Dreams” (which won the Audience Choice Award at the SXSW Festival), the audience crosses virtual boundaries via interactions based on gorgeous visions, cooperative puzzle games, and actual performances by actors. In “Typeman” imbued with a regretful, nostalgic, and warm ambience, the audience is invited for the last dance at a corner in an old apartment.
The 2022 KFF will be held from October 14th (Fri.) to 30th (Sun.). XR Dreamland will unfold in three major venues: the P2 warehouse and VR FILM LAB in the Pier 2 Art Center as well as Moondream Reality. The list of films, information about tickets and events (including film selection guide) will be announced respectively. Please follow KFF’s official website, Instagram, and Facebook page.