VIFF Immersed award winners include Kowloon Forest, The Book of Distance, and more

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      While the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) concluded with a closing screening and awards for the most popular films on October 7, its tech-oriented component also bestowed awards upon creators using new ways to convey narratives.

      VIFF Immersed, devoted to storytelling in extended reality (or XR, including virtual and augmented reality), offered an exhibition from September 24 to October 7 during the festival. The exhibition offered access to XR content—including live-action, fiction, documentary, and animation—from B.C. as well as 12 finalists from the International VIFF Immersed Competition, all on six publicly accessible programs for free.

      "By the Waters of Babylon"
      Vancouver International Film Festival

      Alexey Marfin won the Cinematic Category for "Kowloon Forest" (China/Hong Kong), which delves into the lives of five individuals in Hong Kong.

      "By the Waters of Babylon" (USA) by Kristen Lauth Shaeffer, Andrew Halasz won the documentary category for this exploration of composers who were silenced by the Holocaust.

      "Book of Distance"
      Vancouver International Film Festival

      In the Animation Category, Randall Okita was named the winner for "The Book of Distance" (Canada), which tells his grandfather’s story of immigrating to Canada and undergoing the Japanese Canadian internment during the Second World War.

      The National Film Board of Canada began offering this production free of charge at the Steam, Oculus, and Viveport stores on October 8.

      In addition, honourable mention in the Animation Category went to "In the Land of Flabby Schnook" (Canada) by Francis Gélinas, about a boy who asks his older sister how she overcame her fear of the dark.

      "Ecosphere: Raja Ampat"
      Vancouver International Film Festival

      The Audience Award, determined by votes submitted on a virtual-reality platform, went to "Ecosphere: Raja Ampat" (Australia) by Joseph Purdam. This 45-minute journey takes viewers to diverse locations—including Borneo, Kenya, and Raja Ampat—to discover the wildlife living there. 

      Two winners were chosen for the VIFF Immersed Volumetric Market: Microsoft Mixed Reality Capture Studios Special Prize: "A Vocal Landscape" by Omid Zarei and Anne Jeppesen, and "Uninterrupted" by Nettie Wild and Rae Hull.

      The prize includes a half-day test and one full capture day in the Microsoft Mixed Reality Capture Studio, as well as plugins and tools to put the project on any platform or device.

      More details about the exhibition are available at the VIFF Immersed website.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.