When it comes to dedicated virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) festivals and events, Toronto’s Festival of International Virtual & Augmented Reality Stories (FIVARS) is one of the more unusual, with guests having a two-hour window to explore the curated content. Now in its fourth year, FIVARS returns next month and in doing so marks the launch of the newly renovated and rescued historic Matador Ballroom.
The Matador Ballroom has seen performances from the likes of Johnny Cash to Leonard Cohen in its 100-year history and now it’ll host the very latest in immersive entertainment.
“When I walked in, owner Paul McCaughey, a tai chi master, said, ‘Look what happens when you walk into this space, how it opens up like a Kubrick film,'” recounts FIVARS founder and executive director Keram Malicki- Sánchez, a musician, actor and VR expert in a statement. “I said, ‘You’re going to love our festival because it’s about how to tell a story in a space. This medium lets you feel dimension, proximity, and intimacy.”
The three-day event is set to feature dozens of immersive stories from around the globe: Asia, North & South America, Africa, Australia, the Middle Eastand Europe for guests to enjoy, with 30+ pieces having their world, Canadian, or Toronto premieres. With a two-hour window to explore the content inside the Matador will be holograms, projection mapping, and multi-user synchronized playback. Experiences can be viewed from the comfort of a swivel chair, or room-scale VR.
Tickets for FIVARS are CAD $42 and $50 at the door + HST, which gets you a coloured wristband, and an 80 minute RipTix paper ticket that includes 8x 10-minute squares to be redeemed in exchange for programme material of equivalent value. This means that a 14-minute VR experience will be worth 2x 10-minute squares, while an 8-minute VR experience will be worth 1x 5-minutes squares.