64th BFI London Film Festival announces ‘LFF Expanded’, a new strand of XR and Immersive Art!

The 64th BFI London Film Festival, in partnership with American Express, has today announced LFF Expanded: the Festival’s new dedicated strand of XR and Immersive Art.

Using cinema as a jumping off point, LFF Expanded will be an expansive space for programming, featuring Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality, including live immersive performance.

LFF Expanded will feature bold, innovative creators from around the world who use a range of creative techniques to ensure audiences are not in front a work of art, a film or a performance, but in the middle of it.  

LFF Expanded will be open throughout the BFI London Film Festival (7 to 18 October 2020).

While plans beyond 2020 include a large scale physical installation, the Festival is innovating in response to social distancing restrictions this year by commissioning a bespoke, dynamic new virtual exhibition space, The Expanse

This brand new virtual exhibition space will house the LFF Expanded programme, announced with the full LFF official selection on 8 September. LFF Expanded is programmed by Ulrich Schrauth (LFF XR & Immersive Programmer) who has also worked closely with INVR.Space on the design of virtual exhibition space.

The Expanse will feature a virtual gallery for the LFF’s twenty 360 video and immersive works, plus a virtual theatre which will house a line-up of live talks and events across the Festival. The platform has been built by INVR.SPACE, an award-winning full-service VR studio space as well as immersive media Research Facility.

Additionally, the Festival will offer an Opening event within The Expanse, and a dedicated XR & Immersive Audience Award will be announced at the Virtual LFF Audience Awards Ceremony on the closing day of the Festival. The works programme will be announced on September 8th along with the Festival’s main programme, while all talks and events will be announced ahead of the Festival. 

Audiences will be able to access The Expanse, connect with one another and view the works, using tethered and non-tethered (Oculus Quest) headsets. For those that do not have a headset at home, the Festival will have a number of headsets available for use at the BFI Southbank for attendees to book and experience the platform in-person. There will also be a 2D browser version of the platform for those wishing to view the theatre events at home. To view the works outside of the platform, attendees can access the Festival’s 360 video programme via Oculus TV and the dedicated LFF 360 Player via WebXR, viewable in mobile VR-headsets.

LFF Expanded has also announced a new partnership with the National Theatre and its Immersive Storytelling Studio, which works with artists and emerging technologies to develop new content and experiences.

As part of the LFF Expanded programme this year, the National Theatre will present a new cutting-edge version of their VR immersive experience ALL KINDS OF LIMBO both to audiences at the BFI Southbank and international audiences virtually for the first time.

The VR experience, inspired by National Theatre director Rufus Norris’ production of Small Island, uses immersive technologies and a life-size volumetrically captured performance to take audiences on a unique musical journey.

Through a specially commissioned, 10-minute piece of music, vocalist Nubiya Brandon, composer Raffy Bushman and the NuShape Orchestra take audiences through musical genres including reggae, grime, classical and calypso, reflecting the historic influence of West Indian and black culture on the UK music scene.

The 64th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express takes place from Wednesday 7th October to Sunday 18th October 2020. The full Festival programme will be announced at an online launch on Tuesday 8th September 2020 and all tickets will be bookable from Monday 21 September 2020.

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