VR Experiences Featured in 2018
As a company Engel & Völkers embraced virtual reality technology quickly. In early 2017 we became the first major real estate company in North America to initiate a campaign to integrate VR technology into all of our shops. As Anthony Hitt, CEO of Engel & Völkers North America said at the time, “We realize that virtual reality is not simply a trend, and we are committed to integrating new technologies into our network that help improve the home buying and selling experience.”
We were thrilled, therefore, to see the VR experience highlighted at our favorite local festival, the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In case you aren’t from around these parts, The Tribeca Film Festival is a prominent and crowd-pleasing festival with a mission to bring independent films to a wider audience. In 2002 in the wake of September 11th, when a devastated lower Manhattan needed reinvigoration, actor Robert De Niro and producer Jane Rosenthal and her husband (who works in real estate) started the festival.
It is no surprise that this forward thinking festival has embraced the possibilities of virtual reality since 2016 with the interactive exhibit “Tribeca Immersive.” The virtual and augmented reality exhibit included 35 experiences which allowed participants to swim with sharks, dine with aliens, and enter into bombed out Hiroshima, all within the confines of the 5th floor of the Festival Hub at 50 Varick Street.
In an interview with Forbes magazine, curator Loren Hammonds highlighted the medium’s potential for influencing social change. “In these serious times, artists are taking on serious subjects,” he said. Movies provoke emotions of all kinds, and the VR experience seems especially adept at promoting empathy.
In Hero, for example, viewers take the point of view of the victim of a barrel bomb in Syria and work to help a little girl survive. In this “free roam” experience, the viewers don a headset and a backpack and can walk around in the rubble and see the devastations of war. “Through this experience, we are able to make the distant personal,” said Navid Khonsari, co-creator of the project to journalist Charlie Fink.
In 1,000 Cut Journey viewers take on the point of view of Michael Sterling, a black man encountering racism at various stages of his life. This film allows people who may not have experienced racism in their daily lives to gain a deeper understanding of the minority experience.
The socially minded tone of Tribeca Immersive was an echo of the greater purpose of this year’s festival, which tackled difficult topics like endemic racism and sexism. Forty-six percent of the long-form works in the festival came from female filmmakers, which represented a leap from years past.
We applaud the progress that the Tribeca Film Festival has made and look forward to experiencing more of everything that it offers to the arts and our community.