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How Raindance Film Festival is Embracing VR and AR

Try out the Raindance VRX Award nominees at the Raindance VR Arcade.

Film festivals around the world have been slowly been accommodating the oncoming of virtual reality (VR). This is clear with Sundance Film Festival, Tribecca Film  Festival and even Cannes had a small section showcasing VR films and experiences. VRFocus spoke to Mária Rakušanová, VR and new Media Curator for Raindance Film Festival about how the festival is accommodating new immersive ways of telling stories.

Raindance Film Festival has existed for 25 years this year, the festival pride themselves in recognize the next cutting edge technology wave that will disrupt the film industry. When YouTube started to disrupt the distribution model, Raindance introduced the Webfest strand and in 2016 Raindance were one of the first film festivals to have a VR arcade. This year Raindance are introducing the first ‘Raindance VRX Awards’ with 10 categories.

  1. Best Interactive Narrative VR Experience

  2. Best Mobile Interactive VR Experience

  3. Best Cinematic Narrative VR Experience

  4. Best Documentary VR Experience

  5. Best Animation VR Experience

  6. Best Music VR Experience

  7. Best Branded VR Experience

  8. Best Sensual VR Experience

  9. Best Social Impact VR Experience

  10. Best Sound Design VR Experience


With over 100 submissions, 40 experiences were shortlisted with four per category. The winners will be announced on the 29th of September at the ‘Raindance VRX Awards’. Maria wanted to make the jury members fifty percent male and fifty percent female. She tells VRFocus that, “Raindance champions diversity, and I believe that the world of VR is actually a little more diverse than the world of tech in general. I’m incredibly happy to see a lot of female creators or creatives coming from different backgrounds. So purposefully we have fifty percent female and male jury members.” On top of having gender diversity in the jury members, she’s also made sure to have a mix of jury members who come from film, gaming and tech that are not only based in the UK but also in America, Europe and Asia in order to bring cultural diversity as well.

The public can attend two events, all events are based in London.

The first event is the VR Arcade at the Hospital Club on the 29th and 30th of September. The VR Arcade will allow attendees to book two hour slots for £28 in order to experience 20 of the shortlisted Raindance VRX Awards experiences on the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Google Daydream, PlayStation VR and Samsung Gear VR.

Then there’s Raindance VR Experiences Summit presented by Facebook 360 in partnership with Blend Media on the 29th of September at May Fair Hotel’s private screening room where Raindance VRX Awards nominees and special guests from Facebook’s 360 team will share ideas in talks and panel discussions. Tickets range from £99 for early bird to £149 for late admissions and £49 for students.

Besides holding these events Rakušanová also gives some tips and pointers to VR creators. She says that a lot of experiences she’s viewed have been on an interactive standalone app, but if the experience is in a game engine, it’s been for the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift or PlayStation VR. However as Raindance Film Festival is for films, a lot of the submissions have been 360 films. She believes it’s quite difficult to monetise a 360 film and people tend to post the films on YouTube, Vimeo 360 or Facebook – all of which are free. She suggest to be thorough in research and strike a deal with a platform such as Within , Blend Media or JauntVR. Rakušanová also hints that AR experiences will potentially explode next year, and if so Raindance Film Festival may curate a separate AR section in order to accommodate it.

To find out more watch the video below.

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