Raindance Film Festival continues its support of VR and 360º creators with the Raindance Immersive Stories Awards Ceremony on October 6. This is a celebration of  artists working in immersive  storytelling over the past year, with 33 VR experiences available, of which 17 will receive their world premiere.

I absolutely love these awards. For one its curator, Mária Rakušanová, is one of the most dedicated people in championing artists who push the art medium forward. The new needs friends, and Mária is one of the most dedicated in the industry.

The Raindance Immersive Stories Awards that recognise creative excellence and technical achievement across ten categories:

  1. Best Interactive Narrative Experience
  2. Best Animation Experience
  3. Best Cinematic Experience
  4. Best Documentary Experience
  5. Best Social Impact Experience
  6. Best Music Experience
  7. Best Multi-Person Experience
  8. Discovery Award: Best Debut Experience
  9. British Award: Best UK Experience
  10. Grand Jury Prize: Best Immersive Story

According to Raindance, the ten winners will be selected by an international panel of jury members consisting of industry visionaries such as Vicki Dobbs Beck, executive in charge of ILMxLAB; Curtis Hickman, co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at THE VOID; Wesley Allsbrook, the artist behind Dear Angelica and last year’s winner of Best Animation Experience award; Jérôme Blanquet, director of Alteration and last year’s winner of Best Cinematic Experience award, Grace Boyle, the founder of THE FEELIES, and last year’s winner of Best Social Impact Experience award, and many more. The winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony.

Tickets to the Raindance Immersive Stories Awards Ceremony can be found in the link. A full list of the nominations can be found below – good luck to everyone!

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RAINDANCE IMMERSIVE STORIES NOMINATIONS 

BEST INTERACTIVE NARRATIVE EXPERIENCE

AWAKE: EPISODE ONE, directed by Martin Taylor, Australia, UK Premiere.

Harry is a prisoner in his own house and lost in his mind, obsessed with discovering the truth behind a recurring dream of his departed wife. And now there is a new presence in his world: you. Your arrival signals a life-changing event capable of saving Harry from his darkness. Cast: Jake McDorman, Analeigh Tipton, Nicholas Hope, Alan Watts.

KOBOLD, directed by Maximilian Sacker and Ioulia Isserlis, Germany, UK Premiere.

Little Kaspar has recently lost his mother. When his imaginary friend Pixi offers him a way to see her again, he embarks on a journey deep into a dark world from which he may never return. KOBOLD blurs the line between cinema and gaming. Explore a fully interactive universe, pick up clues, solve mysteries and encounter the ancient evil… Cast: David Bredin, Nick Holaschke, Garry Lane.

THE ARCHIVIST, directed by Orly J Rodriguez, Jr. and Kemal Can Kirdar, USA, World Premiere.

A VR experience based on the world of Twin Peaks, taking you beyond the curtain and into the unpredictable dreamscape. With a new original storyline and soundtrack, THE ARCHIVIST invites you to experience an entirely new mystery, with new characters as well as those you know and love. Cast: Jason McNeil, Ally Tasker Murphy, Curt Clendinin.

TRANSFERENCE, directed by SpectreVision (Elijah Wood, Josh C. Waller, Daniel Noah, Kyle McCullough, Lisa Whalen) and Ubisoft (Patrick Plourde, Sylvain Bernard, Christian Bedard), Canada, USA, UK Premiere.

A psychological thriller placing you face-to-face with a fractured family, as you freely explore their minds. Navigate a dreamlike home filled with secrets. Collect the evidence of a family’s history to choose how you repair their lives. Learn the rules of a place bent on breaking them. Unlock the truth. Cast: Lindsay Burdge, Macon Blair, Tyler Crumley.

UMAMI, directed by Landia Egal and Thomas Pons, France, UK Premiere.

UMAMI is a real-time animated Virtual Reality experience immersing the viewer into the story of a man rediscovering his memories through a series of traditional Japanese dishes, beverages and tastes: the sweet, the sour, the bitter, the salty and the UMAMI, the ‘delicious taste’ in Japanese. Cast: Amaury la Burthe, Eimi Kawahara.

BEST ANIMATION EXPERIENCE

ARDEN’S WAKE: TIDE’S FALL, directed by Eugene YK Chung, USA, UK Premiere.

TIDE’S FALL continues the journey of Meena, a young woman living in a post-apocalyptic world and searching for her father in the depths of the ocean after his unexpected disappearance. Featuring the voice of Academy Award-winner Alicia Vikander, this expansion of Penrose Studios’s award-winning ARDEN’S WAKE embraces the art of long-form storytelling in Virtual Reality. Cast: Alicia Vikander, Richard Armitage.

CROW: THE LEGEND, directed by Eric Darnell, USA, UK Premiere.

Inspired by the Native American legend, a fully immersive journey exploring themes of self-discovery, diversity and selflessness wherein the viewer plays a key role in the story of Crow, voiced by John Legend, who must give up everything he values to save his friends – or so he thinks. Cast: John Legend, Oprah Winfrey, Constance Wu, Liza Koshy, Tye Sheridan, Sarah Eagle Heart, Randy Edmonds, Diego Luna.

MADRID NOIR – PROLOGUE, directed by James A. Castillo, UK, World Premiere.

It’s a warm spring night in Madrid, 1929. A detective named Manolo Monreal, grouchy after a long day on the job, encounters a stray puppy on the streets. Will Manolo be enchanted by her cuteness and keep her safe from the dangers of the night?

SHENNONG: TASTE OF ILLUSION, directed by Mi Li and Wang Zheng, China, UK Premiere.

SHENNONG is an adventure story about a hero of prehistoric China, which describes a battle between Shennong, the God-King of Chinese medicine and a beast from his imagination.

YETI AND SPAGHETTI, directed by Harold Hayes, Jr. and Craig Phillips, USA, World Premiere.

The ice caps are melting and all kinds of prehistoric beings, ancient monsters, and cosmic what-nots are rapidly thawing out in the magical landscape, Hourglass Moonland. When a young Inuit girl, Spaghetti, crashes her snowmobile into a melting glacier, she lets loose a wild Yeti. Their adventures are just beginning. Cast: Sienne Josselin, Kelly Skiver, Harold Hayes, Jr., Matt Bobb.

BEST CINEMATIC EXPERIENCE

DINNER PARTY, directed by Angel Manuel Soto, USA, UK Premiere.

Betty and Barney Hill are an interracial couple who made the first report of a UFO abduction in America in 1961. After undergoing recorded hypnosis to recover memories of their experience, the Hills listen to the recording during a dinner party, and what they hear could change their lives forever. Cast: Malcolm Barrett, Sarah Sokolovic.

HOTEL ZENTAI, directed by Leo Medel, Chile, World Premiere.

Four stories intersect in a zentai club, the sexual-fetish discipline whose followers wear lycra suits and rub each other. Mother and daughter recognise each other in a ritual, a man cannot decide what to wear, a coach loses his authority and two lovers never see each other’s faces. Cast: Mariana Di Girolamo, Antonia Zegers, Alejandro Goic, Fernanda Ramírez, Eliana Albasetti.

KINCH & THE DOUBLE WORLD, directed by Colin Arnold and Steven Cholerton, UK, World Premiere.

A young street urchin named Kinch, living in Victorian London, steals a loaf of bread and is pursued by a policeman. Taking refuge in an old vaudeville theatre he meets a magician who transports him to a parallel universe where magic is real. Cast: Mack Keith-Roach, Bella Padden, Edward Halsted, Robert Fitch.

KING OF INFINITE SPACE, directed by Taylor Myers, Daniel Hasse and Darren Emmerson, UK, Ireland, USA, World Premiere.

Step into Hamlet’s mind as his faith in humanity erodes and he unravels his philosophy of wonder, loss, and madness. A whirlwind of spectres and omens descend, stretching the very fabric of reality. Is this a vision of the future or just another of his bad dreams? Cast: Taylor Myers, Constantine Malahias, Yuriy Pavlish, Jonathan Hopkins, Beth Ann Hopkins.

BEST DOCUMENTARY EXPERIENCE

GRENFELL: OUR HOME, directed by Jonathan Rudd, UK Premiere.

GRENFELL: OUR HOME is a bold and innovative VR documentary, which combines survivor’s testimonies filmed in stereoscopic 360o video with computer-generated animation. The film offers a powerful and original perspective on the Grenfell Tower fire and the community that existed before the fire. Cast: Gomes family, Alves family, Corinne Jones, Jason Miller, Lilian Alwa.

INSIDE TUMUCUMAQUE, directed by Ina Krüger and Patrik de Jong, Germany, International Premiere.

Discover the unique ecosystem of the Tumucumaque nature reserve in Brazil from the perspective of its animals. Fly like a harpy eagle, swim with the black caiman and discover this magical world through the perception of animals as a sensual experience.

IS ANNA OK?, directed by Camila Ruz, UK, London Premiere.

This is a true story of twins Anna and Lauren whose lives are changed in an instant. Step into their memories, connect the two halves of their story, and join them as they piece their world back together. Cast: Marli Siu.

NOTHING TO BE WRITTEN, directed by Lysander Ashton, music by Anna Meredith, UK, World Premiere.

During the First World War millions of multiple choice postcards were sent from the front. Nothing was to be written on them, as communication was only allowed through prescribed phrases. NOTHING TO BE WRITTEN is an artwork inspired by musician Anna Meredith’s FIVE TELEGRAMS and drawing inspiration from these postcards.

THE SUN LADIES, directed by Celine Tricart and Christian Stephen, USA, UK Premiere.

In 2014 ISIS fighters invaded Iraq and targeted the Yazidi community of Sinjar. Men were killed, and women and girls taken as sex slaves. Those who escaped started a female-only fighting unit called the Sun Ladies to bring back their sisters and protect the honour and dignity of their people.

BEST SOCIAL IMPACT EXPERIENCE

BEING ME, directed by Peter Collis for The Cornerstone Partnership, UK, World Premiere.

An immersive tool used to highlight the needs of children in the care system. Through the eyes of a child, the film follows the journey from foetus to early childhood, experiencing the impact of abuse and neglect but also the power of positive intervention from adults in the child’s life. Cast: Victoria Yeates, Raeleigh Green, Matilda Velevitch, Charlie Bedford, Sarah Hoare.

MY AFRICA, directed by David Allen for Conservation International, UK, European Premiere.

A virtual reality journey to northern Kenya, where the futures of wildlife and people are intertwined. Viewers will stand in the midst of a thundering wildebeest migration, witness a lioness snatch her prey, go nose-to-trunk with an inquisitive baby elephant, and meet a community dedicated to saving Africa’s wildlife. Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Naltwasha Leripe.

MY AFRICA: ELEPHANT KEEPER, directed by Adam May, Elliott Round, UK, European Premiere.

Become an Elephant Keeper and learn more about the remarkable work undertaken at the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in Kenya. Following on from the 360° film MY AFRICA, audiences can now welcome Dudu, a baby elephant, to the sanctuary, using real world props to create an innovative interactive VR experience. Cast: Hannah Boulting.

THE DAIRY INDUSTRY, directed by Animal Equality, UK, USA, World Premiere.

Few have witnessed the unimaginable suffering of cows and their calves on dairy farms, where a cycle of cruelty affects entire families. Our team of investigators transport you inside this secretive industry to share the heartbreaking stories behind every glass of milk. Will you be a witness? Cast: Evanna Lynch.

THE EVOLUTION OF TESTICLES, directed by Ryan Hartsell for Male Cancer Awareness Campaign, UK, Ireland, USA, International Premiere.

Two parts humour, one part emotion, this salty sweet VR piece starring Chris O’Dowd raises awareness about testicular cancer through laughter. This project is part of the Oculus VR for Good Creators Lab, where filmmakers are paired with nonprofits to make great VR in the name of social good. Cast: Chris O’Dowd, Andy Neill, Ali Shaw, Jay Holmes.

WINDOW TO OUR WORLD, directed by Ben Perry for The Cornerstone Partnership, UK, World Premiere.

Harnessing the power of VR to transport viewers into the world of a child, the film enables carers and professionals to understand how trauma and abuse impact children’s development and behaviour. It aims to motivate action to address the UK’s foster carer shortage and its significant social and financial implications. Cast: Annick Elaine Weerts, Julian Ben Vinnicombe, Daniel Michael Jacobs, Robin Daniel Thompson, Alice Blake.

BEST MUSIC EXPERIENCE

CHORUS, directed by Tyler Hurd, music by Justice, UK Premiere.

CHORUS transforms you and five friends into fantastical female warriors and sends you on an epic journey to a faraway Tron-like fantasy world. There, you will battle weird and treacherous monsters to save your species from extinction, while fighting to the visceral sounds of electronic music duo, Justice.

NOTHING TO BE WRITTEN, directed by Lysander Ashton, music by Anna Meredith, UK, World Premiere.

During the First World War millions of multiple choice postcards were sent from the front. Nothing was to be written on them, as communication was only allowed through prescribed phrases. NOTHING TO BE WRITTEN is an artwork inspired by musician Anna Meredith’s FIVE TELEGRAMS and drawing inspiration from these postcards.

OPINIONS, directed by Alyssia Frankland and Kenneth Henderson, UK, World Premiere.

Modern society is obsessed with social media. Online platforms provide us with a constant unwanted stream of other people’s opinions. What happens when it all gets too much? Cabaret superstars Bourgeois & Maurice offer us a solution in this satirical VR music video. Cast: Liv Morris, George Heyworth.

UKIYO CAVE: SURELY, directed by Chagall and Eduardo Fitch, UK, The Netherlands, World Premiere.

Music is a gateway to emotion but in a media-congested society, do we get to ever truly listen? UKIYO CAVE: SURELY uses the immersive qualities of VR and 3D spatialised audio to bring back focus, gently directing the viewer towards a state of musical euphoria. Cast: Chagall, Leyla Rees, Stijn Goossens.

BEST MULTI-PERSON EXPERIENCE

CHORUS, directed by Tyler Hurd, music by Justice, UK Premiere.

CHORUS transforms you and five friends into fantastical female warriors and sends you on an epic journey to a faraway Tron-like fantasy world. There, you will battle weird and treacherous monsters to save your species from extinction, while fighting to the visceral sounds of electronic music duo, Justice.

IS ANNA OK?, directed by Camila Ruz, UK, London Premiere.

This is a true story of twins Anna and Lauren whose lives are changed in an instant. Step into their memories, connect the two halves of their story, and join them as they piece their world back together. Cast: Marli Siu.

THE APPLE, directed by Bin Gu, Kaoru Naito, Liquan Liu, China, Japan, Korea, World Premiere.

THE APPLE walks the viewer through different stages of life whilst exploring the world of ‘The Philosopher’. Each life stage is represented by distinctive styles of movement that are a metaphor for the human journey from beginning to end. Spatial compression algorithms were used to create this unique multi-person experience.

BRITISH AWARD: BEST UK EXPERIENCE

GRENFELL: OUR HOME, directed by Jonathan Rudd, UK Premiere.

GRENFELL: OUR HOME is a bold and innovative VR documentary, which combines survivor’s testimonies filmed in stereoscopic 360o video with computer-generated animation. The film offers a powerful and original perspective on the Grenfell Tower fire and the community that existed before the fire. Cast: Gomes family, Alves family, Corinne Jones, Jason Miller, Lilian Alwa.

JUDI DENCH: MY OAK TREE VR, directed by Daniel Wan and James Manisty, UK, World Premiere.

Fly around and through a two-hundred-year-old oak tree in Judi Dench’s garden. Combining cutting-edge graphics, real scan data, state-of-the-art 360o filming techniques and poetic storytelling, this heart-warming journey brings the tree alive in a completely new way, and shows how trees can help to save our planet. Cast: Judi Dench.

KINCH & THE DOUBLE WORLD, directed by Colin Arnold and Steven Cholerton, UK, World Premiere.

A young street urchin named Kinch, living in Victorian London, steals a loaf of bread and is pursued by a policeman. Taking refuge in an old vaudeville theatre he meets a magician who transports him to a parallel universe where magic is real. Cast: Mack Keith-Roach, Bella Padden, Edward Halsted, Robert Fitch.

NOTHING TO BE WRITTEN, directed by Lysander Ashton, music by Anna Meredith, UK, World Premiere.

During the First World War millions of multiple choice postcards were sent from the front. Nothing was to be written on them, as communication was only allowed through prescribed phrases. NOTHING TO BE.  WRITTEN is an artwork inspired by musician Anna Meredith’s FIVE TELEGRAMS and drawing inspiration from these postcards.

OPINIONS, directed by Alyssia Frankland and Kenneth Henderson, UK, World Premiere.

Modern society is obsessed with social media. Online platforms provide us with a constant unwanted stream of other people’s opinions. What happens when it all gets too much? Cabaret superstars Bourgeois & Maurice offer us a solution in this satirical VR music video. Cast: Liv Morris, George Heyworth.

DISCOVERY AWARD: BEST DEBUT EXPERIENCE

CRACKLE POP, directed by John Lynch, UK, World Premiere.

Experience the neurological phenomenon of sound to colour synesthesia – the perception of colours or shapes when listening to sounds and music. Documentary and music video collide in this kaleidoscopic VR film, pieced together from the descriptions of synesthetes listening to the breathtaking music of Paul Russell’s post-punk orchestra, Human Pyramids. Cast: Yasmyn Hendrix, Timothy Layden.

MADRID NOIR: PROLOGUE, directed by James A. Castillo, UK, World Premiere.

It’s a warm spring night in Madrid, 1929. A detective named Manolo Monreal, grouchy after a long day on the job, encounters a stray puppy on the streets. Will Manolo be enchanted by her cuteness and keep her safe from the dangers of the night?

THE ARCHIVIST, directed by Orly J Rodriguez, Jr. and Kemal Can Kirdar, USA, World Premiere.

A VR experience based on the world of Twin Peaks, taking you beyond the curtain and into the unpredictable dreamscape. With a new original storyline and soundtrack, THE ARCHIVIST invites you to experience an entirely new mystery, with new characters as well as those you know and love. Cast: Jason McNeil, Ally Tasker Murphy, Curt Clendinin.

TRAIL OF ANGELS, directed by Kristina Buozyte, Lithuania, UK Premiere.

TRAIL OF ANGELS is a tribute to the famous Lithuanian painter and composer M.K. Čiurlionis. It‘s an immersive VR animation that invites the viewer to explore the magic world of Čiurlionis’s paintings while listening to his original music.

Unreal Engine Demo

UKIYO CAVE: SURELY, directed by Chagall and Eduardo Fitch, UK, The Netherlands, World Premiere.

Music is a gateway to emotion but in a media-congested society, do we get to ever truly listen? UKIYO CAVE: SURELY uses the immersive qualities of VR and 3D spatialised audio to bring back focus, gently directing the viewer towards a state of musical euphoria. Cast: Chagall, Leyla Rees, Stijn Goossens.

GRAND JURY PRIZE: BEST IMMERSIVE STORY

7 MIRACLES, directed by Rodrigo Cerqueira and Marco Spagnoli, USA, Italy, World Premiere.

The world’s first feature-length immersive experience, 7 MIRACLES is a deeply personal story of Jesus and his seven miracles, based on the book of John. Cast: Dejan Bucin, Ben Starr, Sara Lazzaro, Lorenzo Balducci, Cosimo Fusco.

ARDEN’S WAKE: TIDE’S FALL, directed by Eugene YK Chung, USA, UK Premiere.

TIDE’S FALL continues the journey of Meena, a young woman living in a post-apocalyptic world and searching for her father in the depths of the ocean after his unexpected disappearance. Featuring the voice of Academy Award-winner Alicia Vikander, this expansion of Penrose Studios’s award-winning ARDEN’S WAKE embraces the art of long-form storytelling in Virtual Reality. Cast: Alicia Vikander, Richard Armitage.

CROW: THE LEGEND, directed by Eric Darnell, USA, UK Premiere.

Inspired by the Native American legend, a fully immersive journey exploring themes of self-discovery, diversity and selflessness wherein the viewer plays a key role in the story of Crow, voiced by John Legend, who must give up everything he values to save his friends – or so he thinks. Cast: John Legend, Oprah Winfrey, Constance Wu, Liza Koshy, Tye Sheridan, Sarah Eagle Heart, Randy Edmonds, Diego Luna.

TRANSFERENCE, directed by SpectreVision (Elijah Wood, Josh C. Waller, Daniel Noah, Kyle McCullough, Lisa Whalen) and Ubisoft (Patrick Plourde, Sylvain Bernard, Christian Bedard), Canada, USA, UK Premiere.

A psychological thriller placing you face-to-face with a fractured family, as you freely explore their minds. Navigate a dreamlike home filled with secrets. Collect the evidence of a family’s history to choose how you repair their lives. Learn the rules of a place bent on breaking them. Unlock the truth. Cast: Lindsay Burdge, Macon Blair, Tyler Crumley.

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Tom Ffiske
Twitter: @TomFfiske
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