The Venice International Film Festival unveiled this year’s selection for Venice Immersive (the newly-renamed XR division of the festival) this week, which includes the upcoming Peaky Blinders VR experience, alongside Space Explorers, The Soloist VR and more.
The festival returns to an in-person format this year, following online offerings in its last two outings. The immersive selection will be open for press previews and public screenings between late August and early September, with technical support from HTC and Meta.
The scope of the immersive selection is also expanding this year to “acknowledge the growth of immersive media beyond the technologies of Virtual Reality and to include all means of creative expression in XR.” Alongside VR experience, the immersive selection will now also include 360 degree videos, XR installations, live performances and virtual worlds, each in their own sub categories.
There are 43 projects and 32 worlds available this year. Of those projects, 30 are officially competing in three categories, to be judged by the immersive jury panel – Venice Immersive Best Experience, Venice Immersive Grand Jury Prize, and Venice Immersive Special Jury Prize.
There will also be a ‘Venice Immersive World’ in VRChat, designed “with the technical support of VRrOOm” to present a virtual version of the in-person ‘immersive island’ available to visit in Venice.
The selection includes recently released immersive content such as Felix & Paul’s Space Explorers and Alex Honnold’s The Soloist VR, is listed in the selection as well as the upcoming VR experience Peaky Blinders: The King’s Ransom.
It’s a bit surprising to see King’s Ransom among the selection – we knew that Doctor Who: Edge of Time developers Maze Theory were working on it, but solid gameplay and progress updates have been slim post-initial announcement. Having seen so little, we expected King’s Ransom to still be a while off. There’s a chance the festival offering is also just a taster of a bigger experience to come, but either way, it’s nice to see it make the festival selection.