The prestigious Venice Film Festival wrapped up Saturday with an awards ceremony. While live-action films were the stars of the show — including increased Oscar buzz for Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland — animation carved out its own niche on the Lido with a stronger presence in this year’s Venice VR Expanded.
Award-winning spouses Michelle and Uri Kranot (Nothing Happens, Hollow Land) scored their first prize from the festival with the not-quite-monochrome sketched & daubed experience The Hangman at Home, while Kiira Benzing (Loveseat, Runnin’) won over the judges with Finding Pandora X — a modern mythological adventure that transports users to a CG Olympus pulsing with neon vaporwave vibes — after competing last year.
The final VR prize went to Chinese director Fan Fan’s live-action murder mystery Killing a Superstar.
The 2020 Venice VR Expanded program presented 44 VR selections representing 24 countries — including the world premiere of Baobab Studio’s latest project, Baba Yaga — entirely online.
The winners are…
Best VR: The Hangman at Home: An Immersive Single User Experience by Michelle & Uri Kranot (Denmark/France/Canada)
What does the hangman think about when he goes home at night from work? The Hangman at Home is an interactive animated experience exploring themes surrounding acknowledgement and the awkward intimacy of humanness. Told in five interwoven stories; each situation presents a person, or persons in a delicate moment: fragile, playful, terrified, contemplated, confused, curious. We are all very much alike in these moments — alerting us to question our own responsibility and responses. Based on the poem by the iconic Carl Sandburg from Smoke & Steel (1922).
Best VR Experience: Finding Pandora X by Kiira Benzing (U.S.)
With the passing of ages, the Gods of Mount Olympus have faded away until only two remain: Zeus and Hera. Now they are in danger of disappearing if they can’t recover the box of hope that Pandora removed. This modern take on an ancient myth shifts the perspective on a narrative that has long been misinterpreted.
Best VR Story: Killing a Superstar by Fan Fan (China)
Lisa, an actress, has recently been caught in a scandal and even received death threats from some crazy fans. Lisa’s agent Bin invited the well-known host Shan to her villa for a live interview. Before the live show started, various threatening signals appeared, causing Lisa to become more uneasy but Shan insisted on continuing the show, aiming to take the chance of news hype. Unexpectedly, someone died at the scene at the beginning of the show. However, nobody else but Lisa’s colleagues and the show staff stayed in the villa. Was it an accident or a murder? Now it’s up to you to find out the truth.