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CANNES 2014 Market

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Interactive cinema, from virtual reality to theatrical exhibition


- CANNES NEXT: The NEXT experience at the 67th Cannes Film Festival is now halfway through, so what better moment for a visionary new-media expert to come into play?

Interactive cinema, from virtual reality to theatrical exhibition
Caspar Sonnen (© Corinne de Korver)

On the morning of Sunday 18 May, IDFA DocLab curator Caspar Sonnen shared his opinions on the future of cinematic art with the NEXT Pavilion audience.

Sonnen launched the IDFA DocLab in 2008 to showcase projects that use digital technology to expand traditional forms of documentary storytelling. The programme quickly grew into an international platform for interactive webdocs and other new genres where digital technology and documentary storytelling converge. Since 2010, IDFA DocLab has also included an official competition programme for digital documentary storytelling. 

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“I won't define cross-media or transmedia,” began Sonnen. “I can't even define newspaper or cinema, even though I know what they are. The boundaries between media are now incredibly blurred, but this doesn't imply the end of an era. Cinema rocks, and it’s here to stay, but times are changing.” 

The audience was soon engaged thanks to a wide range of slides showing animations and trailers of new theatrical exhibition experiences, such as Cinime and We Want Cinema. While the former is basically an app to play with when sitting in the cinema in order to win premiere or screening tickets, the latter is a revolutionary online platform where anyone can create an event, book the first tickets and invite friends, like a do-it-yourself sort of programming. It is also possible to join a group of people with the same interests or to join a planned event. When enough people buy a ticket, the event will take place.

Other examples of “cinema 2.0” included opera, sports events and videogame premieres on the big screen, and even the futuristic 4D theatres. 

“I'm not sure whether a 4D theatre enhances the film experience or distracts the audience, with its shaking seats and flavours sprayed all over the room,” commented Sonnen. “I still believe that real cinema is where a story is told. Even our deepest ones, those we are ashamed to tell to someone we don't know very well... but we can surely share on Twitter!” That was also found to be the case with the Blabbots, small robots on wheels with sensors and a smiley face, which asked people intimate questions as part of an experiment during the session. Their sweet voices made everyone forget about the dangers of the digital age... at least for a few minutes.

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