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Casey Baltes e Ana Brzezińska • Vicepresidente Tribeca Games and Immersive e curatrice Tribeca Immersive

"La Francia è il mercato più maturo in Europa in materia di XR e giochi immersivi"


- I membri del team di Tribeca ci illustrano lo stato attuale della produzione di XR in Europa e gli sviluppi futuri della produzione di realtà mista

Casey Baltes e Ana Brzezińska • Vicepresidente Tribeca Games and Immersive e curatrice Tribeca Immersive
Casey Baltes (sinistra) e Ana Brzezińska

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On the eve of the Tribeca Film Festival (7-18 June), we sat down with vice-president of Games and Immersive Casey Baltes and section curator Ana Brzezińska to discuss the current state of European XR production, given that French works dominate this year’s Immersive section (see the news). We discussed the growing awareness of and future for XR, the leading territories in this field and the potential of the technology.

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Cineuropa: With your vast experience at the intersection of culture, technology and the arts, how would you describe the current landscape for European immersive, augmented and mixed-reality productions?
Ana Brzezińska:
Although the past couple of years have presented the immersive community with a certain number of obstacles, especially with regard to funding and distribution, I think from a high-level perspective, the XR industry is doing better than ever. There’s a growing awareness of spatial technology, there’s more and more interest in immersive content from venues and platforms, and our audience is growing steadily thanks to a number of different opportunities. We also have a solid international community of content creators and producers who understand the intricacies of telling stories in 3D, which is a capital that you can only amass across time.

Can you shed light on some of the unique challenges and opportunities that you've observed in these European immersive experiences compared to those from other territories?
Ana Brzezińska:
The main challenges we see in the immersive industry today are related to distribution and reaching new audiences. The main opportunities range from creating and fostering a new approach to visual culture, education, entertainment and everyday communication to building new markets and value chains. The prospects ahead of the immersive industry are wide open, but currently, the future of the medium is dependent on the state of the technology and the strategic decisions that are being made by the tech giants. As long as there is no wider adoption of XR, the fate of the industry will remain in the hands of the biggest tech players.

Which European countries stand at the forefront of immersive, augmented, mixed-reality and interactive storytelling, and why?
Definitely France, which has developed an early interest in supporting interactive and immersive storytellers, and which today is the most mature market in Europe when it comes to XR and immersive games. France, Canada and the UK are the territories where most story-driven, immersive experiences come from. I anticipate that thanks to the availability of Creative Europe funding, the number of studios that develop immersive narratives across the EU will steadily increase.

What are some of the unique features or aesthetic choices you have observed in immersive, augmented, mixed-reality and interactive storytelling recently, especially in European works?
I think European immersive works stand out thanks to the quality of the writing and their visual approach to XR stories. Studios like Atlas V, Floreal and Novelab are synonymous with great storytelling and engaging, beautiful, innovative works that are being celebrated at festivals and events across the globe. The fact that Europe is offering public support to these pioneering organisations allows us not only to develop fantastic spatial stories for the next generation, but also to make sure they convey messages and standards that we care about in the European Union.

Tribeca has been a pioneer in recognising games as an art form by including them in official selections. How does this resonate with the European game development scene, and what kind of response have you seen so far?
We have seen an incredibly warm response from the game development industry, including European studios. And every year, we have a strong European representation within our selection. While there are local or regional events to showcase games in Europe, there are very few places where games receive recognition as an art form. Our hope is that Tribeca has been able to put these games on an international stage to be discovered by audiences worldwide.

Can you share some standout European games or immersive productions that have made a significant impact on the industry?
I’d have to call out the work of Remedy Entertainment, which has made such games as Control and Alan Wake. This year, we are featuring a conversation with the creative director of Remedy, Sam Lake. Remedy’s approach to live action and narrative is such a true blend of mediums, and they exemplify the potential of how entertainment could be strongest with a crossover approach.

What potential do you see in augmented- and mixed-reality productions when it comes to developing the arts, and how do European projects fit into this vision?
AB: The potential for augmented and mixed reality in the art space is extraordinary. I personally find it one of the most interesting areas of the current audiovisual landscape. European galleries and art institutions are slowly opening up to opportunities arising from the use of XR, but I think the most interesting interventions will come from the artists themselves. Danish XR studio Khora Contemporary has produced an extraordinary VR experience with an Iranian artist, Shirin Neshat, that Tribeca is presenting this year as part of the Immersive competition selection.

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