2020 saw the likes of the Venice Film Festival, Raindance, Cannes and more switch to online programming, embracing virtual reality (VR) tracks through platforms like the Museum of Other Realities and VRChat. SXSW Online 2021 – which begins next week – had to follow suit as well, with SXSW Online XR providing a showcase of immersive content and industry discussion.
For SXSW Online XR the film festival has turned to VRChat to host its immersive programming, with the platform offering artist representations of Congress Avenue and the Red River Cultural District for users to explore. In these two locations, guests will find the Paramount Theatre, The Contemporary and other spots where live sessions, meetups, special events, 360° videos from the Virtual Cinema program, and 2D video feeds of SXSW Online 2021 programming will be available.
The main content selection will be held under the Virtual Cinema banner split down into three subcategories:
- Virtual Cinema Special Events
- Dream – A live, online performance by The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), in collaboration with Manchester International Festival (MIF), Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF) and Philharmonia Orchestra.
- Theon Cross – ‘We Go Again’ – Virtual avatar of Theon Cross performing ‘We Go Again.’
- Welcome To The Other Side – Jean-Michel Jarre and French VR startup VRrOOm host a concert in a virtual Notre-Dame.
- Backstage Tours of Mount Olympus – Tour the stage of Finding Pandora X.
- Virtual Cinema Competition
- Biolum (World Premiere)
- (Hi)story of a Painting (World Premiere)
- Of Hybrids and Strings (World Premiere)
- The Passengers: Her & Him (International Premiere)
- Poison (World Premiere)
- A Promise Kept (World Premiere)
- Reeducated (World Premiere)
- Samsara (World Premiere)
- Space Explorers: The ISS Experience Episode 2: Advance (World Premiere)
- Virtual Cinema Spotlight
“SXSW really wanted to create a space in the virtual world that brought Austin to life in a spectacular way,” said Blake Kammerdiener, XR and Film Programmer in a statement. “So we came together with Louis Cacciuttolo and his company VRrOOm, whose recent work includes Welcome to The Other Side with Jean-Michel Jarre, and artist Vincent Masson to create this fantastical virtual space that honours Austin, and a few of the venues that we are gutted to not be using this year.”
The festival isn’t purely about films, it’ll play host to the SXSW Gaming Awards with a VR specific category featuring Half-Life: Alyx, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, Down the Rabbit Hole, Star Wars: Squadrons and Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond.
Unlike some of the other online festivals, SXSW Online 2021 won’t be offering a free public area to get a taster of the event. You’ll have to go through the official registration which costs $325 USD giving you access to the entire festival. For further updates on SXSW Online 2021, keep reading VRFocus.