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New York Film Festival Taps Into Transmedia

Fest's Convergence sidebar features projects that include multiple screens, social networking, audience participation

Transmedia may be a nouveau buzzword, but at the New York Film Festival the term sits alongside established genres like documentaries, retrospectives and restored masterpieces in the fest’s sidebar programming. The second festival outing for Convergence, the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s initiative for multiplatform storytelling, features 15 events over a three-day span that dives into pretty much everything the word “transmedia” implies.

That encompasses an alternate reality game-cum-film-cum-social network (“The Cloud Chamber Mystery”), a 3D movie adaptation of an Off Broadway docu-play (“Charlie Victor Romeo”), and a found-footage doc narrated live and extemporaneously by audience members (“No More Road Trips?”). Panels with titles like Platform Agnostic, Brand Specific and keystone presentations by creatives including Cory McAbee (“Captain Ahab’s Motorcycle Club”) and Elaine McMillion (“Hollow”) round out the lineup.

“It’s an art form made up of all art forms,” enthuses NYFF’s Convergence co-programmer Matt Bolish. “It’s the most collaborative thing I’ve ever seen, and film is definitely the tie that binds it all together.”

NYFF isn’t alone in the inclusion of multiplatform works under its auspices. Earlier this year, the Tribeca Film Festival made transmedia programming (under the banner Storyscapes) an official part of its slate for the first time. The Film Society eventually hopes to incorporate such programming into its other tentpole fests, such as the Jewish Film Festival, as well.

The reasons behind the surge in festival interest for such fare are obvious. Moving images make up a significant component of all these projects, and more and more filmmakers are pushing the boundaries of form as digital tools become cheaper and easier to use.

“This is the direction that this business is moving toward,” Bolish says.

Besides, in following stories across multiple screens, devices and interactions, transmedia is beginning to look a lot like the way people encounter media every day. As NYFF programming director Kent Jones observes, “This is how an enormous span of the population engages with moving images now.”

Convergence Emergents

Charlie Victor Romeo

Immersive 3D film adaptation of a hit Off Broadway play

“The Empire Project”

Interactive work examining the legacy of Dutch colonialism

“48 Hour Games”

Choose-your-ownadventure doc about the Nordic Game Jam

“No More Road Trips?” (pictured)

Found-footage docu with live, extemporaneous narration

“The Cosmonaut”

Story unfolds comprising Web elements, music and social media

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