From Bloodbath to Hammam: goEast explores new territories of XR and awards WIP Projects

Wiesbaden/Frankfurt, 18 April 2022

The 22nd edition of goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film marks a significant change of the festival’s dedication to XR creators. Two new initiatives, the Work-in-Progress Pitch and a collaborative project called “Tales from the Bathhouse” are introduced in this year’s program, which will go both online and offline during the dates of the festival – 19 April to 25 April 2022.

A major focus of the festival’s XR program is the ongoing war in Ukraine. During the last 4 years of goEast’s Open Frame VR Award, five works were created by Ukrainians, or told about Ukraine. Four of those will be part of a special showcase: “Aftermath VR: Euromaidan” by Alexey Furman, Sergiy Polezhaka (Ukraine, Open Frame Award 2019), “Whispers VR” by Jacek Nagłowski, Patryk Jordanowicz (Poland, Open Frame Award 2020), “BABYN YAR. VIRTUAL MEMORY” by Alona Stulii (Ukraine, Open Frame Award – Honorary Mention 2020) and #PrisonersVoice by Nikita Bohdanov (Ukraine, Belarus, Open Frame Award – Honorary Mention 2021).

In cooperation with HTC Vive the “Focus on Ukraine” exhibition will be held physically at LuisenCenter Darmstadt from 20 April to 25 April and in DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum from 27 April to 5 May 2022.

Starting from 2020, when goEast became one of the first festivals to open its virtual embassy in VR, the festival keeps merging the physical and virtual world together. Virtual visitors from all over the world are invited to visit goEast’s own BathHouse Hub in VRChat – a new venue for this year goEast XR activities, created by Dale “Deac” Deacon & TeamEpic.org based on the famous Wiesbaden’s Kaiser-Friedrich-Therme. In addition to two existing virtual landmarks – Caligari Theatre (another famous Wiesbaden landmark, virtually designed by former Open Frame Award winner Denis Semionov aka SA1NT DENIS) and goEast VRooftop, the BathHouse Hub will give the visitors a full overview of all of the XR activities made by goEast this year.

This includes the Cinema Archipelago project – Tales from the Bathhouse, an exhibition of three commissioned VRchat worlds, created by Eastern European digital artists and creators around the bathhouse topic. The “Hammam” world was created by a team of students from the Cologne Game Lab and visitors are invited to interact with Turkish architecture, music, cultural practices, and stories.

The experience “Exotic with a happy ending” by Uzbekistan-born artist Faina Yunusova will immerse audiences in a place of inaccessible experiences and unexpected surprises. “Bloodbath”  is made by an Ukrainian team, who fled Ukraine due to the ongoing war. The experience lets visitors choose a side, while being on the now notorious Snake “Zmeinyi” Island, which was surrounded by the Russian missile warship “Moskva” on the first day of the war and whose defenders pronounced a curse which became the motto for the whole world.

 

All worlds will stay public after the festival and will be accessible through VRChat. Tales from the Bathhouse is funded by Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain.

All of the virtual activities, projects and links to the VR worlds can be found on the festival’s web-site in a dedicated zone – https://www.filmfestival-goeast.de/en/cinema-archipelago/xr-vr-hackathon/

That includes 24/7 broadcast from the BathHouse Hub and goEast VR Live streams daily from 6 to 8 pm CET with VRChat tours and interviews with creators.

 

After four successful years of the Open Frame Award competition, which was dedicated to finished VR projects, the goEast team decided to focus on the support of projects in progress, thus helping the artists to promote their works before the premiere, as well as giving the most promising project the “Merck Award for Innovation in XR”, sponsored by Merck in Darmstadt and endowed with 3,500 Euros.
Eight projects from Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Russia, Romania and Germany will be evaluated by a jury and experts with the public presentation happening online on April 23rd 2022. This year’s jury consists of Paola Gazzani Marinelli, Head of Digital & Professional Programs at the Geneva International Film Festival, Switzerland, Alexandra Gérard, Chief Operating Officer of Stereopsia Europe, and Antoinette Engel, producer at the Electric South digital initiative in South Africa. The projects presented at this year’s program have a big variety of formats and subjects – from 360 film to AR experiences. The selected projects are:

HUMAN VIOLINS by Ioana Mischie, Romania;
UP IN THE AIR by Oksana Syhareva, Ukraine;
LEGAL ENTITIES by Mantas Talmantas, Lithuania;
A PASSAGE by Max Villwock, Germany;
ARCTIC RECALL by Anna Tolkacheva, Russia;
JACOB’S JOURNEY by Joanne Popinska, Poland, Canada;
IF THESE STREETS COULD TALK by Barna Szász, Hungary;
DARKNESS VR by Piotr Nierobisz, Poland, United Kingdom.

Find out more about the projects in the press section under Virtual Reality.