blogEast is a project of goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film. The blog was created during the first Corona wave in Europe as a solidary mouthpiece for film (culture) creators from all over Europe. In the coming weeks, blog posts will be published that highlight cinematic as well as political and social facets of today's situation, but also offer a way to distract from the omnipresent discussion about infection figures and vaccination progress. blogEast is supervised and edited by the goEast team and accompanies the digital festival in Wiesbaden.
With the fourth edition of the Open Frame Award, goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film continues its journey through new forms and media formats alongside classical cinemas experiences. However, as much as the competition of experimental 360° and interactive Virtual Reality is innovative, it has so far been relatively limited for the public in accessibility, since the projects could only be viewed in special headsets in our exhibition places. As a result of the pandemic, however, Georgy Molodtsov, curator of the Open Frame Award and the goEast festival team have come up with additional ways to experience the projects in competition.
This year it will be possible to get an overview and experience previews of the projects in competition through a digital exhibition in frameVR. Georgy Molodtsov will be offering daily guided tours through the exhibition, for which no additional hardware or software is necessary, only an internet browser. Head of Festival, Heleen Gerritsen and Georgy Molodtsov are presenting the digital exhibition in a video:
Participants can chat and interact in the exhibition space and even customize their appearance after registration. Additionally, between April 21st and 25th at 6 pm CET there will be daily guided tours through all event spaces in VRrOOM hosted by different Open Frame Award artists and the curator himself. The tours will also be streamed on YouTube.
Still, for a full VR experience, a headset is necessary. In collaboration with Lichter Filmfest in Frankfurt, goEast will be providing exactly that – a virtual reality experience to go. At the goEast festival centre in the Museum Wiesbaden goEast will be renting out VR headsets to be taken home alongside user manuals. For this no previous VR experience is necessary. Additionally, goEast is teaming up with the long-time Open Frame Award supporter HTC VIVE's Viveport offering free access to selected interactive Open Frame Award projects at home for anybody, who already owns compatible hardware. For this HTC VIVE's Viveport created a dedicated experience space that will be live at viveport.com/goeast2021 on April 20th. "Last year we had to come up with new ideas of how to present the Open Frame Award even under conditions with curfews and travel restrictions. It turned out to be a success and only natural for experimental 360° and interactive Virtual Reality projects to be presented in virtual spaces as well. This year we want to broaden the awards accessibility, thus also connecting the Open Frame Award with the worldwide VR community and Central and Eastern European creators", summarized Georgy Molodtsov.
Once again virtual goEast venues, including Caligari FilmBühne VR as well as the GoEast VRoof Top Lounge, a meeting point for Open Frame Award nominees and festival guests, will serve as virtual meeting points and some new surprises. The venues have been created for the 20th edition of goEast last year by Georgy Molodtsov and the former Open Frame Award winner and VR artist Dennis Semionov in collaboration with VRrOOM, a social network in virtual reality. This year the venues have been "refurbished" and updated with better functionality. Again, the Caligari VR will serve as a location for a rather unusual awarding ceremony for this competition, at which all participants can appear with different avatars, ranging from exclusive goEast skins to pigeons and hamsters.
In the Open Frame Award programme, the featured filmmakers explore innovative forms of narrative art, covering a wide range, from poetic experiments to interactive experiences for the senses. In their work, they continually blend reality and virtual space into a new experience for the viewers. DEEP DIVE (Poland, 2020) by Milosz Hermanowicz combines wilderness environments with painful experiences of loss in a 360° film that pursues the vision of a natural approach to storytelling. Extreme circumstances also come to a head in the interactive VR experience DISLOCATION (Dislokacije, Croatia, 2020), in moments of alienation in which memories of a lost home are gradually at risk of decaying. By contrast, HOREKU. THE STORIES OF TUHARD TUNDRA (Russia, 2021) by Anna Tolkacheva focuses on the documentary-like observation of reindeer, sled dogs and Netflix shows. The impressive life of a modern nomad family in the tundra is depicted from the perspective of the beloved and tame creature Horeku. Nikita Bohdanov's augmented and virtual reality 360° documentary film #PRISONERSVOICE (Ukraine, 2020) accompanies a trio of Ukrainian activists, namely Oleg Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko and Volodmymyr Balukh, who recount their unlawful imprisonments in Russia with the aid of the VR software Oculus Quill. On the polar opposite end of the spectrum, we find the interactive VR experience NIGHTSSS (Poland, 2021) by Weronika Lewandowska and Sandra Frydrysiak, an animated film that makes it possible to experience one's own body and power of imagination in an entirely new way in virtual space through the use of poetry, dance and trendy ASMR techniques. By contrast THE SPHERES CITY – TANGIBLE UTOPIAS (Romania, 2021) takes children's capacity for imagination as inspiration for staging odysseys through urban scenarios of multi-layered future societies. With TX REVERSE 360° (Austria, Germany, 2019), the Open Frame Award pushes ahead into further experimental realms via visual collisions between dream and reality in the cinema.