To find our favorite virtual reality experiences out on the market right now, we turned to the highly curated New Frontier programming from Sundance Film Festival 2016. For 10 years, New Frontier has been supporting filmmakers and artists working at the intersection of storytelling and high technology. With around 30 virtual reality experiences chosen from hundreds of submissions, the New Frontier VR lineup is the cream of the crop. Shari Frilot, the Chief Curator of New Frontier said, “This year’s program provides a sensory experience that powerfully transports audiences to uncommon places and ways of being, offering an opportunity to become viscerally aware of the vital connections between our brains, bodies and biosphere. The future of storytelling affords us the ability to observe ourselves and our instincts and become more conscious of the way we make choices and decisions.”
Artist: Randal Kleiser (Kleiser-Frederick Productions and Immersive Media); Key Collaborator: Tanna Frederick
In this futuristic, sci-fi virtual reality adventure, viewers are put in the seat of a woman who wakes up after being frozen for nearly 30 years to reunite with her family. The reunion is bittersweet, as the passage of time has caused her loved ones to become strangers. Cast: Carl Weathers, Bruce Davison, Tanna Frederick, Christopher Atkins, Ethan Rains, Clinton Valencia.
The Rose and I
Artists: Eugene Chung, Jimmy Maidens, Alex Woo; Key Collaborators: Terry Kaleas, Ryan Shore, Nick Sung
An immersive, animated VR film crafted by the artists, hackers and storytellers of Penrose Studios, The Rose and I is about loneliness, friendship, love, and loss. Come meet a lonely Rose living in the unlikeliest of places, and be transported into a brand new universe. Cast: Rachael Bigelow.
Artists: Philipp Maas, Dominik Stockhausen, Alexander Maas
When a drone receives a faint distress call emerging from an unknown asteroid, it journeys to locate the source of the signal and ventures into a deep, ancient labyrinth that holds a secret even darker than space itself. The horror of exploring alien worlds matched with the film’s near-silence makes this one of the creepiest experiences at Sundance.
The Martian VR Experience
Artists: Robert Stromberg, Ridley Scott; Key Collaborators: Fox Innovation Lab, RSA Films, VRC
Step into the shoes of astronaut Mark Watney as he performs tasks that will facilitate his chances for survival and rescue. Viewers can fly onto the surface of Mars, steer at zero gravity through space, and drive a rover, deepening the experience of key scenes from Ridley Scott’s hit film, The Martian.
Artists: Felix Lajeunesse, Paul Raphael (Felix & Paul); Key Collaborator: Stephane Rituit
Witness the Maasai tribe’s living heritage in the village of Enkutoto, Kenya, through repeated walkabout visuals in the Great Rift Valley. Watch jumping-dance competitions, the men’s unmatched hunting abilities, and the women’s skills in building mud houses, long-distance water collection, and bead artwork.
Artist: Lynette Wallworth, Sundance Institute New Frontier + Jaunt VR Residency Program
Journey to a remote desert in western Australia that is home to indigenous leader Nyarri Morgan and the Martu tribe. Nyarri's first contact with Western culture was in the 1950s via a dramatic collision between his traditional world view and the cutting edge of modern technology. Cast: Nyarri Nyarri Morgan, Curtis Taylor.
Waves of Grace
- Artists: Gabo Arora, Chris Milk (Vrse); Key Collaborators: Imraan Ismail, Samantha Storr, Patrick Milling Smith
In this experience viewers are transported to the most populous slum in the capital city of Liberia, where Decontee Davis, an Ebola survivor, uses her immunity to help others affected by the disease. Cast: Decontee Davis.