Sundance Institute has selected six projects for the annual New Frontier Story Lab, which supports independent artists working at the cutting-edge convergence of film, art, media, live performance and technology.
The New Frontier Story Lab is a week-long immersive experience that empowers creatives with individual story sessions, conversations about key artistic, design and technology issues and case study presentations from experts in multiple disciplines. Past participants include Roger Ross Williams, Josephine Decker, Silas Howard, Tracy Fullerton, Yung Jake, Chris Milk, Hasan Minhaj, Tommy Pallotta, Amelia Winger-Bearskin, Hank Willis Thomas, Jillian Mayer, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Navid and Vassiliki Khonsari, A Dandy Punk, Nicolas Peufaillit, and Yasmin Elayat. The Lab takes place May 16-21 at the Sundance Resort in Utah, under the guidance of Sundance Institute Feature Film Program Founding Director Michelle Satter and Kamal Sinclair, Director of New Frontier Lab Programs.
Sinclair said, “The intersection of artists and technologists at New Frontier Story Lab this year is going to create a unique experience where the Fellows are able to challenge each other to take risks and interact with stories in different ways. Creative Advisors and Industry Mentors will come together to explore the convergence of art and technology and engage in ground-breaking work in the full spectrum of immersive media, connected environments and machine learning.”
Creative Advisors and Industry Mentors for the Lab include: Reggie Watts (Creator, Spatial), Nick Fortugno (Co-Creator, Frankenstein AI), Rashida Bumbray (Curator, Funk, God, Jazz and Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn), Katerina Cizek (Creator, HIGHRISE), Toby Coffey (Head of Digital Development, National Theatre in London), Kirsten Johnson (Director, Cameraperson), Lauren McCarthy (Creative Coder, p5.js), Mark Monroe (Writer, The Cove), Arnaud Colinart (Co-Founder, AtlasV), Dr.Joy DeGruy (Author, Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome), Katherine Dieckmann (Writer/Director, Strange Weather), Sylvio Drouin (Vice President Research Labs, Unity Technologies) , Moira Griffin (Executive Director of Production, Creative Labs at Fox Networks Group), Scott Norville (Vice President, Digital Audience Development at Fox), Torfi Frans Ólafsson (Design Director, Minecraft at Microsoft), Opeyemi Olukemi (Vice President, POV’s Digital Production and Innovation), Melissa Painter (Creator, HEROS), Joan Tewkesbury (Writer, Nashville), Saschka Unseld (Director, The Blue Umbrella), Diana Williams (Executive Vice President of Creative at Madison Wells Media) and Anthony Sparks (Co-Executive Producer, Queen Sugar).
The Creative teams and Projects Selected for The 2018 Sundance Institute New Frontier Story Lab:
Alexa, Call Mom!
Nitzan Bartov and Charlotte Simpson
Alexa, Call Mom! is a connected environment installation featuring Alexa and other interactive devices working as a conduit between the living and the dead. It is the seance experience of the future!
Nitzan Bartov is a game designer and architect based in Brooklyn. In VR, interactive and spatial media, her work mixes pop culture and sci-fi with computational design and sculptural elements, exploring representations of time and beauty in the flaws of the digital world.
Charlotte Simpson writes interactive fiction and designs narrative formulas for gamified texts, VR, and immersive experiences. Her focus is stories that encourage an extranoematic interaction between the reader and text.
Changing Same: The Untitled Racial Justice Project
Michèle Stephenson and Joe Brewster
Changing Same: The Untitled Racial Justice Project is a magical-realist journey through the uninterrupted cycle of white racial oppression from slavery to now to an afro-futurist world of freedom, liberation and equity.
Michèle Stephenson pulls from her Panamanian and Haitian roots to tell provocative stories that are created by, for and about communities of color. Stephenson’s most recent feature documentary, American Promise, was nominated for three Emmys, garnered a Sundance Film Festival Jury Award, and won a Britdoc Puma Award for Impact. Her collaborative short-film series with New York Times Op-Docs, Conversations on Race, won an Online Journalism Award for Commentary.
Joe Brewster is a physician who uses his psychiatrist training to inform the social issues he tackles as a filmmaker. Brewster has created stories using a variety of mediums that have garnered support from critics and audiences internationally. Brewster is a Guggenheim Fellow and Spirit Award and three-time Emmy Award nominee. His recent documentary, American Promise, won the Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival. Brewster’s outreach accomplishments include a NAACP Image Award for his book Promises Kept, and a BritDoc Prize for developing one of the most innovative outreach campaigns.
Raqi Syed and Areito Echevarria
After a series of miscarriages, a young woman is convinced her children were born into another dimension. Through immersive media, this story of loss, fear and reunion penetrates the unseen portal between worlds.
Raqi Syed is a writer and artist who has worked on films such as Tangled, District 9, Avatar, Dawn of The Planet of the Apes, and The Hobbit Trilogy. In 2017, The Los Angeles Times pegged Syed for its list of 100 Industry professionals who can help fix Hollywood’s diversity problem. Syed’s writing focuses on film and gender, film technology, the historiography of visual effects, and the business of visual effects. Her essays have appeared in TechCrunch, Vice, Salon, Quartz, and The Los Angeles Review of Books.
Areito Echevarria is an Academy Award winning artist and researcher, specializing in computational creativity and design. His feature film experience includes work on films such as War for the Planet of the Apes, Godzilla, The Hobbit Trilogy, Avatar and Black Hawk Down. In 2014, Echevarria was awarded the Scientific and Technical Academy Award for his work developing Deep Compositing, an imaging technology that fundamentally changed the nature of compositing workflows in the feature film industry.
Not The Only One
Stephanie Dinkins and Sadé Dinkins
Not the Only One is the multigenerational memoir of one black American family told from the mind of an artificial intelligence of evolving intellect.
Stephanie Dinkins is a transdisciplinary artist interested in creating platforms for ongoing dialog about artificial intelligence as it intersects race, gender, aging, the proliferation of knowledge(s) and our future histories. She is particularly driven to work with communities of color to develop deep-rooted AI literacy and co-create more equitable artificial intelligence.
Sadé Dinkins is passionate about social justice and the need for a future that reflects us, as representation has growing effect on the human psyche, public policy. She has an external drive to seek and establish representation for blackness and women in media as well as in the technological sector as it increasingly intersects our lives.
Evolve | Revolve
Shariffa Chelimo Ali and Yetunde Dada
Circle the Mugumo tree seven times and transform from masculine to feminine or feminine to masculine; and live in your new identity forever. This is the ritual of the Kikuyu ancestors that no contemporary person has experienced until now.
Shariffa Chelimo Ali is an Afropolitan creative leader committed to working with an open-heart at the intersection of the performing arts and humanitarianism. Ali works as a Community Coordinator at the Public Theater in New York. Selected directing credits include: Detroit 67 (Brooklyn College, NY), We are Proud to Present…(Yale Dramatic Society, Yale University, CT), Eclipsed (Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton University, NJ), The Year of the Bicycle (C.M.O.R.E Festival, The Cell Theatre, NY) and Evolve | Revolve (formerly known as Round Round, VR film), winner of the Digital Lab Africa Competition.
Yetunde Dada’s background is in photography, design and technology and she is currently completing her MBA at the Said Business School, University of Oxford. She passionate about using art and technology for social change and founded a social impact art, design and music magazine called Our Friends.
Kevin Cornish and Seyward Darby
Unearth stories by speaking with the witnesses, family members, detectives and towns people who lived the nightmares of this True Crime series. These conversational documentaries put the viewer face to face with the subjects and let’s them ask the questions to discover the multifaceted truth.
Kevin Cornish, director of cinematic immersive experiences, is the CEO and Co-Founder of Conversive, an immersive conversation engine, and the founder of Moth+Flame agency. Cornish has created immersive experiences for AMC’s The Walking Dead and Pandas AR for IMAX, which allows kids to have conversations with a talking panda in augmented reality. He’s also the creator of Fall in Love, an AI-powered VR experience inspired by The New York Times article “36 Questions to Fall in Love,” which was shortlisted for an Innovation Lion at Cannes and uses natural language processing to enhance first-person storytelling.
Seyward Darby is a magazine editor who specializes in longform narrative nonfiction. Currently, she is the executive editor of The Atavist Magazine, an award-winning publication that delivers cinematic true stories featuring in-depth reporting, compelling writing and the most elegant design on the web. She is also a writer and is currently working on a book about how women have shaped white nationalism in America (Little, Brown, 2020).