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Sheffield Doc/Fest Introduces New VR Award, Filmmaking Contest

Last year’s Sheffield Doc/Fest placed a huge emphasis on virtual reality (VR) tech. The festival, which showcases the best in documentary making with interviews and screenings across the UK city, hosted a VR Arcade with nine projects on display, including popular experiences such as Clouds Over Sidra from VRSE. Preparations for Sheffield Doc/Fest 2016 are now well underway, set to run from 10th – 15th June. VR will return to the show this year, with two major features to be introduced for the first time.

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The first of these is a new Alternate Realities VR award, which aims to recognise the best in VR filmmaking. The award will be decided by an all-female jury that includes Ingrid Kopp, Director Digital Initiatives at the Tribeca Film Institute; Annika Gustafson, Executive Director at Boost Hbg, Sweden; May Abdalla, Co-Director, Anagram; Francine Stock, Broadcaster, The Film Programme, BBC Radio 4; and Shayla Harris, Senior Producer, Digital Video, at Frontline PBS.

“Two years ago we had two virtual reality projects at Sheffield Doc/Fest. Last year we had nine,” Alternate Realities Curator Mark Atkin said. “This year we have created a Virtual Reality award making Sheffield Doc/Fest the first film festival to announce such an award. It’s a very exciting time for the genre, and we want to ensure we recognise those who are leading the way in this innovative new area, and create mechanisms to welcome under-represented talent in this field. Given the hybrid nature of the medium, we invited a diverse panel of media professionals as judges, so I’m extremely pleased to be able to announce our all-female virtual reality jury, and excited to see what they select.”

Elsewhere, the festival will also run a filmmaking competition in partnership with the Site Gallery and with support from Arts Council, England. Proposals for VR documentaries are now being accepted until 09:00 on 14th March, with the winning pitch being awarded £5,000 to create the production.

VRFocus will bring you the latest updates on all VR events.