Beyond cinema: The Swiss VR and digital revolution
by Ernesto Leotta
- CANNES NEXT: The renowned Festival Tous Écrans takes us on a journey through Switzerland's digital landscape
The weekend closed its curtains on a high note at the Cannes Film Festival's Film Market. As one of the NEXT Pavilion’s taglines states, we really stepped into the future, thanks to a special session powered by Geneva's Festival Tous Écrans, where five ground-breaking virtual-reality and digital projects were showcased in front of an enthusiastic crowd.
An introduction was given by Lift Conference producer and Swiss Digital Alliance co-founder Sylvie Reinhard, who presented the projects' creators and addressed the current situation in Switzerland in terms of supporting innovation: "We have a lot of revolutionary projects getting media coverage, nominations and invitations at festivals, but we're struggling to get digital creation supported by the Swiss government. Hopefully, our country is about to adopt a new cultural policy, but I'm not sure whether it will be approved or not – so fingers crossed!"
Reinhard then welcomed the crème de la crème of Swiss digital creators on stage. Mindmaze CEO Tej Tadi left everyone speechless when he showed the audience Mindleap, a brain-powered virtual-reality game, in which a headset monitors our brain activity while digitalising every object around us.
He then passed the microphone to two young game designers, who directed an apparently simple animated film about duality, called Plug & Play. But what makes the film a one-of-a-kind project is the related game – "not the usual movie-inspired app, but a means for viewers to really interact with the film, totally clickable, with almost unlimited possibilities," said Michael Frei and Mario von Rickenbach.
Then CTRL Movie CEO Baptiste Planche took the stage, where he illustrated Late Shift: "I always ask myself 'what if...' when watching a movie. In my film, viewers can push buttons or swipe the screen in order to decide how the story should continue. That's the future to me, and the NEXT Pavilion is exactly where I belong."
The second-to-last digital project was Sequenced, by Emilie Joly of Apelab, who defined it as "somewhere between Mad Max and Miyazaki". This interactive, 360-degree adventure has a story that evolves differently depending on where the user turns his or her head.
Finally, producer Max Karli, of Rita Productions, played a teaser of his heartwarming, stop-motion animated My Life as a Zucchini, in which a young orphan forms a new family with his little friends from the foster home, after his mother's passing. The film features a game app in which users will help the protagonist tidy up the foster home.