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Sundance Gets Virtual with New Frontier Lineup

Three feature films, a live performance, 30 virtual-reality experiences and 11 exhibitions will be presented in the 2016 Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier program, in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the strand devoted to experimental work.

Highlights include “The Martian VR Experience,” which offers viewers a first-person look at Mars from Matt Damon’s character in the sci-fi smash, the Kendrick Lamar-scored installation “Double Conscience” from artist Kahlil Joseph, and a virtual collaboration from Bjork and artist Andrew Thomas Huang dubbed “Stonemilker.”

The 10th anniversary exhibitions will also be featured at New York’s MoMa in April.

The three features set to make their world premieres in New Frontier are: “Cameraperson,” Kirsten Johnson’s memoir of the footage she’s shot around the world over her decades as a cinematographer; “The Illinois Parables,” a series of Midwestern vignettes about “faith, force, technology and exodus” from writer-director Deborah Stratman; and “Notes on Blindness,” a U.K.-France co-production from Peter Middleton and James Spinney, drawn from audio recordings made by the late professor John M. Hull after he went blind. The latter project includes a mobile VR experience, one of more than 20 such New Frontier pieces that audiences can access via headsets.

“We were all looking forward to this year,” said Sundance Film Festival director John Cooper. “The vision for what New Frontier was going to showcase finally came to fruition this year. It’s to the point where it’s a full-fledged part of the festival now.”

Launched in 2007 as a replacement and elaboration of the Frontier section, New Frontier encompasses feature films screened at the festival’s theatrical venues, as well as galleries and multimedia installations in a 10,000-square-foot exhibition space covering multiple venues in Park City, Utah. Artists who have presented their work in New Frontier over the past decade include Doug Aitken, Jennifer Steinkamp, Aaron Koblin, Pipilotti Rist, James Franco, Nonny de la Pena and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

The Sundance Film Festival runs Jan. 21-31. The event has already announced the films in the dramatic and documentary competitions (for both U.S. and World Cinema), as well as the Next and Midnight sections. Premieres and Documentary Premieres will be unveiled Monday.

PHOTOS: Sundance New Frontiers Lineup 2016

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