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Cannes Film Festival Plots Major Expansion to VR Program

Cannes XR, the Marché du Film’s program dedicated to immersive and augmented reality content, is set to expand.

For its second edition, Cannes XR has partnered with tech creator Positron and Brogent Technologies to introduce a new VR theater, dedicated space and competition.

While keeping its 700-square meter exhibition space in the basement of Cannes’ Palais des Festivals, the program will also set up a second front at The Palm Beach, a former casino on the other side of the Croisette. The venue will offer 1600 square meters of exhibition space, as well as outdoor reception areas with a beachfront view.

“Even last year, it was clear to us that the Palais basement would not allow us to fully develop the XR section,” Cannes XR head Elie Levasseur tells Variety.

“It was difficult to mount projects and it was hard for XR professionals to stay in the basement without seeing the sun. The new place will at once allow us to welcome XR professionals in more optimal conditions, and to create an environment they want to stay around.”

Levasseur credits the Venice Film Festival’s Lazzaretto Vecchio island – a small island just off the Lido where the festival’s VR program takes place – as an inspiration and proof of concept. “Venice’s VR Island confirmed that you could exist a bit away from the rest of the festival,” he explains. “It would create a unique identity that would benefit the XR community.”

Reachable by shuttles from the Palais, the new space will also house a series of conferences and development showcases, as well as a multi-seat theater equipped with Positron’s patented Voyager VR chairs, which are full-motion platforms designed to showcase cinematic VR.

The California-based tech firm will also sponsor a new prize for cinematic VR called The Positron Visionary Award, to be awarded to one of 10 selected projects by a jury of industry peers. Both the submission process and the jury are still ongoing.

Cannes XR was introduced last year as a way to give immersive and augmented reality projects their own dedicated berth within the Marché sphere. As that particular industry evolves, so, too, will Cannes XR.

“It’s too early to position the event around a market, because the market doesn’t exist yet,” says Levasseur. “And it didn’t make sense to open a new festival and compete with our friends for world premieres, because today the market isn’t releasing enough quality projects each year (to support several festivals).”

Instead, Cannes XR has positioned itself as an accelerator and development lab for promising projects that could shape the market in years to come.

“We want to identify why no XR project has been selected in official competition at a major festival,” Levasseur explains. “What are the impediments? And once we have those, we can start to offer solutions, to break that glass ceiling. We want to be the place that can incubate or accelerate works that will be selected in major international festivals – the Cannes Film Festival included.”

Cannes XR will run from May 12-17.

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