First, we must give honor where honor is due: Next will begin this year's festivities on May 8 (until May 13), with its Innovation Hub occupying, for the second time, the basement area of the Cannes Film Market. Over six days, this unconventional space dedicated to innovation and virtual reality will shine the spotlight on the most recent immersive creations.
More than 30 international companies have signed up for this year's Next Innovation screening program, with 140 films to be presented including works by the crème de la crème of the contemporary French VR scene, which is dominated by a handful of extremely dynamic operators.
With kind permission from the Arte network, Da Prod, DV Group, France Télévisions, and Les Produits Frais, UniFrance will present a Viktor Romeo viewing station on our Terrace space. This will give visitors the chance to discover the following works:
• I Saw the Future - VR
• Being an Astronaut
• The Real Thing
• Isle of the Dead VR
On Saturday, May 12, a Breakfast event dedicated to professions from the VR sector will be held on the UniFrance Terrasse. Programmers from the major international festivals (including Venice, Berlin, Montreal, and Tribeca), cultural institutions (Maxxi, Centre Phi), buyers (Arte, Orange, Otherset), and producers (Sony, Baobab) will be participating in this event.
The same day, at 4:00 p.m., the Institut Français, Film France, and UniFrance will be hosting a joint conference on the distribution and promotion of French Virtual Reality works and current challenges facing the sector.
From May 9 through 13, the Atlas V studio will set up camp (with headsets in tow) on the UniFrance Terrasse. Fresh from its recent success at Sundance (with the sale of SPHERES for over $1 million) and Tribeca (BattleScar, Vestige), the up-and-coming company will take part in many of the talk sessions to be held at the Next Hub, such as the talks focused on the Digital Lab Africa platform (May 10 at 4:00 p.m.), International Co-Productions (May 11 at 3:00 p.m.), Financing and Monetization Strategies (May 12 at 2:00 p.m.), and Artificial Intelligence (May 13 at 2:00 p.m.).
A pioneer in immersive content, Arte will be a key participant in the Next Hub program. The European cultural television network will be hosting three screenings (on May 10, 11, and 12 ) and will present three VR works in world-exclusive screenings: A Bar at the Folies-Bergère VR, Isle of the Dead VR, and MC360°.
Arte will also take part in a number of conferences held on the subjects of production (May 13) and the Digital Lab Africa platform (May 10).
Diversion Cinema emerged on the scene two years ago when they organized VR screenings in Paris at the Forum des Images and the Louxor Cinema. Since then, this young start-up company has come a long way and has successfully exported its know-how around the world. Film Festivals such as Venice, Dubai, Cannes, and Amsterdam regularly program their presentations of VR content.
This year, Diversion Cinema is organizing two screenings at Next, held on May 10 and 11. Having recently launched into the international sales sector, the company will take advantage of this opportunity to present the new works The Wild Life and The Real Thing (which won an award at NewImages), as well as its new viewing station aimed at the general public, called Viktor Romeo.
From May 7 through 14, DVGroup will once again take over the apartment space at 69 rue Félix Faure in Cannes. After the highly-acclaimed presentation of the prototype Alice, the Virtual Reality Play (shown at Venice, Centre Phi, Fost, and Dubai, among other events), the DV crews are back with their new attraction: The Horrifically Real Virtuality, a 3D immersive motion-capture experience inspired by the Tim Burton film Ed Wood.
In addition to the eagerly-awaited Being an Astronaut (a co-production between La Vingt-Cinquième Heure/France Télévisions), visitors will be able to discover DV's latest offerings, such as The Real Thing, interactive content, and a new application for children (Téo et Léonie). Furthermore, as DVGroup is planning to open a theater in the UK next year, the company will present its franchise for new location-based ventures and its proposals aimed at VR exhibitors: Ellipsis seats, a smartphone application, stand-up VR, and VR cinema concepts.
After organizing presentations of VR works for the Institut Français and UniFrance, Hervé will return to Cannes this year from May 9 through 13 to present new VR projects and productions, as well as their solutions for VR distribution, screening, and installation. Over these five days, Hervé's teams will meet with professionals across the movie sector and provide support to presenters of projects involving immersive content.
The Institut Français will be presenting the complete list of VR works produced as part of its "Hackathons" initiative at the Next Hub. The IF will also host a conference at the "Pavillon Cinémas du Monde" on May 12 at 2:00 p.m., entitled "Virtual Reality and Transmedia: Accompanying Innovative Creations to the International Arena with the Institut Français." This will provide an opportunity to review recent French VR creations and the international success they have achieved, as well as to discuss actions initiated by the IF to enhance the visibility of these works and promote them around the world.
As was the case last year, mk2 will be setting up shop on the Croisette. In their Cannes apartment space, the group helmed by Nathanaël and Elisha Karmitz will offer viewers the chance to discover their latest acquisitions and their all-inclusive VR equipment solutions, which are ready for use by exhibitors. Launched less than one year ago, the mk2 VR Pod has already been sold in Asia, Brazil, and Scandinavian countries. The company forecasts the installation of over 200 VR Pods around the world before the end of 2018.
Mk2 will also host two screenings of works from its VR lineup at Next (on May 10 and 13). As well as the multi-award-winning Alteration, Cannes spectators will have the chance to see works including Overview: A Walk Through the Universe and The Sun Ladies by Céline Tricart.
Orange is joining forces with Baobab Studios for the exclusive presentation of the new VR film The Crow, scheduled in the afternoon of Saturday, May 12, as part of the Next program. For this event, VR demonstration stations will be set up to allow festival-goers to experience The Crow.
On May 11, prior to this event, the official Next cocktail reception will be held on the Orange Terrace space, starting at 7:30 p.m. This will provide the opportunity to announce the winners of the 2018 Orange XR Grant. In addition to a prize of €25,000 for each project selected, this year's winners will be offered support from partners including BCom, Aspic Technologies, and UniFrance. During this evening event, the directors of Baobab Studios and WeVR will present the latest developments in their respective companies.
Wide will be in full force at the Film Market for the duration of the Next Initiative program. The only international sales company to be present throughout the event, the outfit run by Loïc Magneron will show viewers their most recent acquisitions (French Kiss, Your Spiritual Temple Sucks, among others) in optimum conditions: films will be presented on HTC Vive headsets with ultra high-definition 8K image resolution.
With regard to the participation of international film festivals, we welcome the presence of Génération Numérique, the association in charge of organizing the 360 Film Fest, as well as the teams from Virtuality. Bolstered by its success in Paris, the Virtuality Salon dedicated to VR productions has now expanded its scope, with a sister event to be presented in Argentina. Virtuality will host two screenings (May 10 and 12). This will allow viewers to discover Draw Me a Futur and the director Alexandre Aja's first foray into the universe of VR: Campfire Creepers. And finally, VRrOOm will organize three screenings (May 10, 12, and 13) and will present its 100% Online VR Festival.
All of the films presented can be viewed at the VR Library from May 8 through 13.
The complete program of the Next Initiative can be consulted here.