May 14, 2018
Judging VR entries at Fine Arts Film Festival
By: Raffaella Camera

New category attracts worldwide interest in fast-growing industry

The human experience revolution was on full display at the fifth annual Fine Arts Film Festival (FAFF) 2018, which premiered a Virtual Reality (VR) category for independent films focused on artists, collectors and endeavors such as music, documentary, photography and illustration.

Watching human creativity and storytelling unfold in Virtual Reality (VR) creates a much deeper connection with the viewers because it immerses them fully in the moment.

As a member of the VR jury, I had the honor of helping review the highly creative VR entries alongside a panel of other experts in the field from Procter & Gamble, Warner Bros. and Virtuality.*

FAFF 2018, which was produced by the Venice Institute of Contemporary Art (ViCA) as part of its exhibition programs, was held on May 10-12 in Venice, California. The festival screened dozens of narrative, documentary and experimental films, drawing a wide audience from both the film and art world.

#VR enables “much deeper connection with viewers... immersing them fully in the moment” - @rcamerala at #FAFF2018


The two categories of VR Narrative and VR Documentary showcased how Virtual Reality can truly strike a chord in viewers’ emotions, immersing them in the joy of experiencing multiple art forms concurrently or feeling the deep fear of hiding for their lives.

Using cutting-edge filming techniques, the two winning VR films were:

  • Best Virtual Reality Cinematic Narrative 360Film/Experience--Leggenda

    Filmed as one panoramic shot, the six-minute VR film by Leslie Levi and Laura Desimages features a virtuoso concert violinist and pianist performing a classical piece from composer Ottorino Respighi. Next to them, the song is passionately interpreted by two modern acrobatic dancers, who flow effortlessly with the music. The theatrical experience simultaneously immerses viewers in a unique combination of different art forms for an awe inspiring, soul touching experience.

    A virtuoso concert violinist and pianist performing a classical piece from composer Ottorino Respighi

    Photo credit: mk2films, all rights reserved.

  • Best Virtual Reality Documentary 360Film/Experience—Paris Terror: The Hostages from the Hyper Cacher

    Directed and filmed by Ricarda Saleh, a German-Bolivian filmmaker, this thought-provoking VR documentary tells the stories of three grocery store customers taken hostage in 2015 at a Jewish supermarket where terrorists took the lives of four people. In a manner that respectfully recreates the scene, the film intertwines media footage and survivor interviews with abstract black and white illustrations of the event.

    The immersive VR format places viewers directly into the situation and powerfully conveys the feelings of being trapped in hiding, thinking their lives are about to end. The experience overcomes the desensitization people may have developed from reading or listening to so many news accounts of terrorist events, which have sadly become all too frequent.

    Best Virtual Reality Documentary 360Film/Experience—Paris Terror: The Hostages from the Hyper Cacher

    Photo credit: Ricarda Saleh and WDR 2018, all rights reserved.

The winning films can be viewed in full 360 using a VR headset, or in 2D with 360 panoramic view on the web.

The FAFF award ceremony also featured two additional VR experiences: Ready Player One OASIS, a VR gaming experience from the Warner Bros movie adapted by Stephen Spielberg; and Behind the Style, an award-winning virtual commerce experience for the fashion industry, developed by Accenture and Specular Theory.

VR viewing grows as a medium
The introduction of the FAFF 2018 VR category reflects a broader trend as Virtual Reality increasingly becomes synonymous with sharing everyday cultural experiences. Filmmakers and artists are turning to VR to provide a more realistic interpretation for people, whether the goal is to inspire or educate.

Recognizing the potential for monetization, prominent film festivals are including VR films and location-based entertainment (LBE) features in their lineups. There are more than 25 dedicated VR film festivals worldwide. At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, for example, CityLights, a production financing and distribution company, acquired the three-part VR film “Spheres,” while Dogwoof, a longtime film production company, bought the VR documentary “Zikr: A Sufi Revival.”1

I strongly believe that as VR becomes part of our everyday lives and more creative and business-focused immersive experiences are developed, the full potential of this new medium will come into play. And I look forward to next year’s FAFF VR awards.

Learn more about Accenture Extended Reality (XR) and enterprise-level applications for VR and AR in business. 

To learn more about FAFF or to submit a VR film for next year’s festival, see

*Note: The FAFF 2018 judges for the VR category were:

  • Ioana Matei, Virtual Solution Leader at Procter & Gamble; Executive Producer/Co-founder of Reality+ Films

  • Greg Gewicky, VP of Emerging Technology, Warner Bros.

  • Mark Rickard, VR Producer, Virtuality

  • Raffaella Camera, North America Go-to-Market Lead, Accenture Extended Reality (XR)


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