As the Sydney Film Festival 2016 prepares to take over half of the city, at least the bits not currently having holes dug into them for light rail lines, SFF 2016 expands its border beyond the cinema screens with three experiences that blend movies and technology in a program called called Beyond Cinema. They will be held at the Festival Hub at Sydney’s Lower Town Hall, UNSW Australia, and Carriageworks.
Down the Rabbit Hole – Virtual Reality at the Hub (9 – 19 June) will screen 9 different VR experiences throughout the course of the festival. If you went to the Biennale of Sydney on Cockatoo Island this year, you may have seen Cécile B. Evans’ virtual experiences through the Dog Leg Tunnel. SFF’s VR experiences include a stroll along the streets of Havana (A History of Cuban Dance), going on stage with the Sydney Dance Company dancers (Stuck in the Middle with You), going inside the world of a cattle farmer and one of Australia’s top saddle bronco riders (Warwick Gold – Australian Rodeo), falling down the rabbit hole and into a Lewis Carroll inspired music video (Fabulous Wonder.Land), finding out what it’s like to lose your sight (Notes On Blindness: Into Darkness), haunting an asylum (Madeleine), walking in the footsteps of a filmmaker’s army officer father in Chile’s Caravan of Death (Assent), experiencing the first ever fully hand-drawn VR experience (Drawing Room), and stepping into an animated encounter with a lonely rose (The Rose and I). It will also be accompanied by a free talk Diving down the VR Rabbit Hole (Saturday 11 June, 12:00pm) featuring writer Mike Jones and a selection of the VR filmmakers who have works screening at The Hub.
The Festival’s second Beyond Cinema experience is co-presented with UNSW Australia at the University’s 360-degree 3D world leading iCinema (8 – 18 June). Two interactive experimental films will have their world premiere at the Festival: Deluge, dealing with devastating cyclone Yasi (QLD 2011), and Nebula, a dream work exploring relationships between the human and natural worlds; created by Dennis Del Favero, celebrated Australian playwright Stephen Sewell and others. It marks the second time in recent years that SFF have teamed up with Del Favero and Sewell, whose previous iCinema work Scenario debuted at SFF 2011.
The final Beyond Cinema Festival experience is presented in association with Carriageworks (9 June – 17 July) and is a four-sided video installation entitled: HOSSEIN VALAMANESH: CHAR SOO that places viewers at the intersection of an Iranian bazaar to contemplate movement, human interaction and the passing of time.
SFF 2016’s full program will be announced on 11 May. 26 films have been announced to date, including opening night film Goldstone, a Martin Scorsese retrospective curated by David Stratton. Some films include Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!!, the Sundance winning documentary Weiner, and Jean-Marc Vallée’s darkly comic drama Demolition withJake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts.