How a queer black filmmaker made virtual reality a reality at Sundance

When Shari Frilot first kicked off New Frontier, an exhibit that pushes the boundaries of traditional storytelling through art and technology, at the Sundance Film Festival back in 2007, the attending press didn’t quite know what to make of it or the works on display.”People came and they had no idea what we were doing, but they thought it was really cool,” says Frilot of that inaugural exhibit. “And people were calling it ‘art at Sundance.’ So we had to fight that in the press. We’re decidedly not doing an art show.”New Frontier may not be an art show housed within the grander show that is Sundance in Park City, Utah, but it certainly welcomes the convergence of that world with those of technology and cinema. The exhibit, now in its ninth year, even attracts the participation of bold-faced names. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and James Franco are just two examples of the high-profile Hollywood talent Frilot, the exhibit’s curator, says have sought out New Frontier as a venue for their work. “[2010] was a big corner turn where we started to see major players in the film world looking to New Frontier for opportunities. That was a big shift. It brought the profile that they bring to it,” she says.This year, although Hollywood is once again paying attention and participating in New Frontier see: Fox Searchlight’s Wild – the Experience with Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern, it’s not the star attraction. Virtual reality is. Eleven cinematic works, which run the gamut from the immersive journalism of Nonny de la Peña’s Project Syria to the sensory simulation of bird flight in Birdly to the point-of-view and gender shifts of Perspective, will all be on display and freely open to the public. And all will feature a VR twist.

via How a queer black filmmaker made virtual reality a reality at Sundance.


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