Upon learning of “Marco & Polo Go Round” and the film’s surrealist premise, execs at VR distributor Diversion cinema jumped at the chance to distribute, even if the project’s delivery date was still several years away.
“It was such a strong idea,” says Paul Bouchard, Diversion head of acquisitions and sales. “Today there are so few VR titles that deal with interpersonal relationships, whether as comedy or drama. It had an angle and intent that felt so original and unique.”
Recently completed and making its world premiere at the NewImages and Tribeca festivals, the Canadian-Belgian production takes a kitchen-sink drama and quite literally turns it upside down.
Produced by Item 7 (Audrey Pacart, Paul-E. Audet, Pierre Even) and Belga Productions (Alain-Gilles Viellevoye) and helmed by Montreal-based director Benjamin Steiger Levine, “Marco & Polo Go Round” follows boyfriend Marco (Emmanuel Schwartz) and girlfriend Polo (Léane Labrèche-Dor) as they stumble into a couple’s dispute one hazy, hungover morning. Only, as the couple’s argument heats up, gravity somehow reverses, sending appliances, furniture, and eventually the leads themselves off the ground and into the sky.
“Seeing a forceful but seemingly ordinary interaction turning the world on its head was such an irresistible visual,” Bouchard explains, “[that] we boarded very early on.”
Since its launch in 2016, the French outfit has aimed to put together a premium catalog and carve out an ever-changing path in the still nascent world of VR distribution. In recent years Diversion has organized installations with Venice VR and at Paris’ Cent Quatre cultural center while adding titles like “Ayahuasca – The Shamanic Exhibition” and the Kubrick tribute “Odyssey 1.4.9.” to its library.
Preferring to offer curatorial and logistical support to partner festivals and cultural institutions on an à la carte basis, Diversion has, thus far, opted against setting up a fixed location theater.
“We tend toward a more fluid distribution dynamic,” says Bouchard. “We believe it more important to work with different clients on standard or tailor-made installations, which over time can evolve or adapt, depending on the budget, and depending on the programed title. We need that flexibility.”
“Without a distributor, so many titles never quite make it off the festival circuit,” he continues. “Our project is to accompany our titles, to develop with our colleagues and collaborators a durable network that can bring them to the public.”
“We want to keep these works are accessible and to makes sure they are shown in the best possible conditions. That’s our project, and that’s our plan for ‘Marco & Polo Go Round.’”