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Age of Sail, John Kahrs
Age of Sail, John Kahrs

The LA Film Festival announced the lineup of The Portal, the Festival’s inaugural VR and Immersive Story Telling showcase to be held at Loyola Marymount University’s new Playa Vista Campus. The Portal is a two-year partnership with Loyola Marymount University’s School Film and Television.

“It’s exciting, and a testament to the storytelling, that virtual reality is now attracting talent like Rosario Dawson, Brie Larson, Diego Luna, Ian McShane, Alicia Vikander and Oprah Winfrey,” said Jacqueline Lyanga, Guest Director VR & Immersive Storytelling. “Immersive storytelling is venturing into exciting new territory with adventurous mixed reality, social interactivity, guided motion and haptics, all of which LA audiences will be able to experience for free at The Portal this fall as part of LA Film Festival.”

“It’s fitting that, as we open the doors to our new Playa Vista campus, we also welcome Film Independent’s first-ever VR and Immersive storytelling showcase,” said Peggy Rajski, new Dean of LMU’s School of Film and Television. “Jacqueline’s thoughtful program provides audiences with ample opportunities to immerse themselves into the experiences and stories of others, including many whose voices are typically unheard. At LMU SFTV we deeply value storytelling that shines a light into the places we rarely traverse, but which enrich us when given the opportunity to do so.”

The Portal features some of the most exciting new animated, documentary and fictional narratives from virtual reality exhibitions at film festivals around the world, including Cannes, Rotterdam, Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca and Venice.

The Portal will be located at the new LMU Playa Vista Campus 12105 W. Waterfront Drive, in the heart of Silicon Beach and is free to the public.

The Portal

LA Film Festival’s inaugural showcase of immersive storytelling from visionary creators working in Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR) and Virtual Reality (VR) featuring, 360, room-scale VR and interactive works and installations utilizing haptic technology that bring touch and motion to the immersive experience.

1000 Cut Journey, dirs. Courtney Cogburn and Elise Ogle, USA, LA Premiere

In this immersive virtual reality experience, in order to foster a greater understanding of the social realities of racism, you become Michael Sterling, a Black male, and encounter racism as a young child, an adolescent, and a young adult.

Age of Sail, dir. John Kahrs, USA, North American Premiere

Set on the open ocean in 1900, this animated film tells the story of William Avery (voiced by Ian McShane), an old sailor adrift and alone in the North Atlantic who finds redemption and hope in his darkest hours.

Arden’s Wake: Expanded, dir. Eugene Chung, USA, US Premiere

The animated story of young woman who lives in a post-apocalyptic world with her father in a lighthouse perched atop an endless sea. Academy Award-winner Alicia Vikander stars as the voice of Meena.

Awavena, dir. Lynette Wallworth, USA/Brazil/Australia, LA Premiere

This mixed-reality work is a tale of metamorphosis, and a collaboration between the Amazonian Yawanawa community and an artist that tells the story of a people ascending from the edge of extinction and the ascendance of their first female shaman.

BattleScar, dir. Martín Allais and Nico Casavecchia, USA/France, LA Premiere

An animated coming of age story that follows a year in the life of Lupe, played by Rosario Dawson, living in late 1970’s New York City as she discovers the Punk scene of the Bowery and the secret underworld of the Lower East Side.

Biidaaban: First Light, dir. Lisa Jackson, Canada, LA Premiere

Set in a highly realistic future Toronto reclaimed by nature, where people commute by canoe, users engage with the written text of the Wendat, Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) and Anishinaabe (Ojibway) and gain insight into the complex thought systems of this land’s first peoples.

Crow: The Legend, dir. Eric Darnell, USA, North American Premiere

This animated story of a bird with a beautiful voice is inspired by Native American legend is executive produced by John Legend, and features the voices of Sarah Eagle Heart, Diego Luna Tye Sheridan, Oprah Winfrey and Constance Wu.

Dinner Party, dir. Angel Manuel Soto, USA, LA Premiere

Dinner Party is a short virtual reality thriller that dramatizes the incredible story of Betty and Barney Hill, who in the 1960s reported the first nationally known UFO abduction case in the United States.

Geomancer, dir. Lawrence Lek, UK, North American Premiere

A computer-generated animation about the creative awakening of artificial intelligence set in Singapore 2065, that tells the story of an environmental satellite that wishes to become an artist.

Queerskins, dirs. Illya Szilak and Cyril Tsiboulski, USA, LA Premiere

A diary and a box of belongings offers a devoutly Catholic mother living in rural Missouri, USA in 1990 a second chance to know Sebastian, the estranged son she has lost to AIDS as they take a magic realist journey down a country road.

Space Explorers: A New Dawn (Ep.1) and Taking Flight (Ep. 2), dirs. Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël, Canada, USA

A cinematic VR series narrated by Brie Larson about the new age of space exploration. Witness the lives of NASA astronauts as they navigate the trials and sacrifices of their training and missions.

Terminal 3, dir. Asad J. Malik, USA, LA Premiere

An interactive, augmented-reality documentary that explores contemporary Muslim identities in the U.S. through the lens of an airport interrogation using Microsoft’s Hololens technology to interrogate the holograms of passengers.

Vestige, dir. Aaron Bradbury, USA/UK/France, LA Premiere

Journey into the mind of Lisa as she remembers her lost love, Erik, through a series of fragmented memories that become entangled with a haunting vision triggering new memories and pathways as we navigate through the story.

Zikr: A Sufi Revival, dir. Gabo Arora, USA, LA Premiere

Zikr: A Sufi Revival takes four participants on an interactive, virtual reality journey into a world of ritual, music and dance by opening up an experience to the Sufi practice of inclusion, acceptance, art, joy and understanding


Free Solo, dirs. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, USA, World Premiere

Experience Alex Honnold’s free solo climb up Yosemite’s 3,000-foot high El Capitan wall with no ropes or safety gear in 360 VR. The full-length documentary film version of FREE SOLO is playing in LA Film Festival’s Gala section.

Into the Now, dir. Michael Muller, USA, LA Premiere

An exploration of marine life and ocean conservation that follows director Michael Muller as he tackles his lifelong fear of sharks by learning to dive without protection and cage-free with great white sharks.

Sun Ladies, dirs. Christian Stephen and Celine Tricart, USA, LA Premiere

The story of a group of Yazidi women in Sinjar, Iraq who started a female-only fighting unit called the Sun Ladies to protect the honor and dignity of their people. This documentary features animation created by artist Wesley Allsbrook (Dear Angelica) and was produced and narrated by Maria Bello.

This is Climate Change: Fire, dirs. Danfung Dennis and Eric Strauss, USA

In just the last three decades, changes in climate have doubled the amount of land burned by wildfires in the western United States. Follow the dedicated fighters – by air and on the ground – whose jobs have turned into year-round battles against these catastrophic blazes.

Panels at The Portal

The showcase will also feature panels about Women’s Voices in VR, Animation and immersive Documentary on Saturday September 22 and Sunday September 23.

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