Virtual Reality and movies are mixing together, and the Raindance Film Festival will showcase the very best of movie and documentary experiences. Confinement, immigration, abortion, blindness – all are dealt with in their own ways in this collection. Of those appearing I have seen two in person – both were amazing in their own ways. But the rest seem fascinating, and I hope to soon: 

6×9 A Virtual Experience of Solitary Confinement

I played this for the first time during the Kaleidoscope Summer Showcase Vol. 1 alongside a colleague, and it is a powerful experience – nine minutes felt like an eternity. The hype is up there. Putting the viewer in a 6×9 cell, The Guardian’s first VR experience is sure to bring up questions around how humane this practice is.

Across the Line

Few things in America are as controversial as abortion, and this documentary places healthcare workers at the heard of the divide. A hybrid documentary fiction piece, combining 360° video and CGI and using real audio gathered at protests, scripted scenes, and documentary footage to depict the everyday reality of healthcare providers and the patients entering health centers for a safe and legal abortion in America.

Ctrl

Another film which I watched, Ctrl was my first experience into VR. It takes place within a video game, telling a story which twists itself into a dark corner and raising the stakes. I have already reviewed the production here, but just know that the production staff has deliberately not spoken much about its twist, and it’s not one I want to touch one now. If you have the opportunity, watch it.

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Easter Rising: Voice of a Rebel

As a historian who specialized in the First World War, this is something I would love to try out in the future. This VR experience allows users step into the memories of Willie McNeive and journey back in time to a moment that changed Irish history forever: the Easter Rising of 1916.

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Home – An Immersive Spacewalk Experience

Do you like space? Of course you like space! Throw yourself into the void 240 miles above Earth in this Virtual Reality spacewalk. Inspired by NASA’s training programme and the astonishing experiences of its astronauts, this VR experience is your chance to have your 15 minutes in space. I am unsure how immersive it can be when gravity still has an effect on you, but its one I want to try.

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In My Shoes: Dancing with Myself

One of the most interesting areas of VR is its health benefits and the way in which it can show ailments of the mind. This is the true story of Jane, friends, strangers, and epilepsy – told in virtual reality. Part of the ‘In My Shoes’ first-person documentary project, it fuses film, theatre, technology and empathy – a mix which I would love to see in the future.

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Inside the Box of Kurios

‘Inside the Box of Kurios Cabinet of Curiosities’ from Cirque du Soleil is ‘a mysterious and fascinating realm that disorients your senses and challenges your perceptions.’ This is their self-described description, and it seems like an eccentric and eclectic experience of the mind.

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Invisible

One of Brexit’s core discussion points is immigration and its regulation in line with the EU – this documentary attempts to highlight the experiences of those going through the system. Guided by the voices of survivors, this VR experience takes the audience on an immersive journey into the uncertainty and despair of the UK’s immigration detention system.

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Notes on Blindness: Into Darkness

How do you describe blindness to someone who has never been blind? After losing his sight, John Hull began keeping an audio diary in order to understand blindness. Each scene addresses a memory, a moment and a specific location from John’s audio diary, using binaural audio and real time 3D animations to create a fully immersive experience in a ‘world beyond sight’. Absolutely amazing.

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RecoVR: Mosul

How do you preserve an item of history which has been destroyed? A collaborative VR experience between The Economist, Rekrei and Visualise to preserve the cultural heritage of Iraq’s Mosul Museum, where many artefacts were destroyed by the IS in 2015. Volunteers used crowd-sourced images to digitally reconstruct the lost artefacts as 3D models.

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The Rose And I

When I saw the little guy, I had to admit I have a small ‘awwww’ in response. Crafted by the artists, animators and storytellers of Penrose Studios, this is a film about loneliness, friendship, love, and loss. The little character is Rose, who lives in the unlikeliest of places with a beautiful art style.

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The Turning Forest

Somewhat linked in the style to The Rose and I,  though through the eyes of another creature. Around them, a magical forest, in front of them, a magical journey. There are few other details on this, though in a way this makes it seem more intriguing.

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Tomorrow

Linguistics is one of those fascinating areas which I am always interested in, but has always been somewhat out of my comprehension as it is so abstract. Tomorrow tries to visualise this path instead. An immersive VR experience about the evolution of language, illustrating the history of storytelling, from the primitive age to now, considering how it will affect the world of storytelling as we know it.

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Witness 360: 7/7

Another POV documentary, but this time on the bombings in London several years ago. This VR documentary tells one woman’s experience of the London 7/7 bombings, seeking to give an impression of the impact of such of an event through an individual perspective.

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