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BFI London Film Festival Announces Showcase for Immersive Media

The “Expanded strand” is a dedicated venue for immersive media at the legacy festival.


Last week, the British Film Institute announced that this year’s London Film Festival will be offered virtually, including a dedicated showcase for immersive media. BFI also announced the schedule for the showcase, featuring the musical experience “All Kinds of Limbo.”

The “Expanded Strand”

“Out of necessity sometimes comes innovation and we’re hugely excited to present our LFF Expanded plan for 2020,” XR Programmer Ulrich Schrauth said in a press release shared with ARPost. “Shifting the full artistic program into the virtual realm makes it even more accessible for all kinds of audiences and creates new opportunities for creative formats and artistic expression.”

LFF Expanded includes ten interactive works, eleven 360-degree films, and one augmented reality installation.

In the future, immersive media pieces in this showcase will be displayed in a “large-scale physical installation.” This year, they will be available in virtual exhibition space, The Expanse, on Oculus devices or through a browser experience.

Those in and around London during the festival from October 7 to October 18 can rent a headset from the venue to experience the expanded strand.

Despite the challenges of the year, we are so thrilled to be able to deliver such an ambitious first LFF Expanded,” LFF Director Tricia Tuttle said. “This new program of XR, immersive, and interactive works will sit alongside our film program, as we also expand to include series, television, and episodic filmmaking.”

All of the experiences will be available throughout the entire festival, with tickets available starting September 21.

Celebrating Diversity Through Immersive Media

The most publicized experience in the immersive media strand is “All Kinds of Limbo.” The experience, created by the National Theatre, is a journey through the music brought to Britain by people originally from the Caribbean.

“We’re delighted to be presenting the National Theatre’s ‘All Kinds of Limbo’ as part of the festival,” said the National Theatre’s Head of Digital Development Toby Coffey. “This project celebrates the influence of Caribbean Culture on the UK music scene from the late 1940s to today.”

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The late 1940s marked the beginning of the “Windrush Generation,” groups of Caribbean natives who emigrated to the United Kingdom to fill a labor shortage left in the aftermath of World War II.

While this influx eventually tapered off, the cultural influence of this group has remained strong. And, it’s not the only story being told at the festival in celebration of diversity.

Four of the 360-degree videos in LFF Expanded are segments of “Virtual (Black) Reality.” The four videos use immersive media to bring viewers into the lives of “Africa-descended Berliners and Parisians.”

Embracing Immersive Media

LFF Expanded, when viewed on its own, is an exciting opportunity for people around the world to view immersive media that looks to change how we pass the time as well as how we learn and communicate.

When viewed in the context of other immersive media showcases at legacy media events like Cannes and Sundance, LFF Expanded represents increasing exposure and acceptance of an increasingly powerful medium.

Jon Jaehnig
the authorJon Jaehnig
Jon Jaehnig is a freelance journalist with special interest in emerging technologies. Jon has a degree in Scientific and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University and lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. If you have a story suggestion for Jon, you may contact him here.