Charles Bramesco


Guy Maddin is bringing a new augmented-reality project to London Film Festival

He's leading today's wave of announcements concerning the 'LFF Expanded' programme of immersive art forms.

Now only a month and change out, the London Film Festival has kicked its buzz-stoking into high gear with the announcement of yet another programming section, this time with a more novel purview. Now in its third year, the newly unveiled LFF Expanded strand will bring a menagerie of immersive art pieces to the BFI Southbank and other venues, and they’ve got a known name leading the charge this year.

Experimentalist madman Guy Maddin is the headliner, premiering a new project titled “Haunted Hotel — A Melodrama in Augmented Reality” under the festival’s aegis. The official description specifies that the piece takes the form of eight three-dimensional collages that will “ruminate on the manifold permutations of desire, deception, and death.” If that sounds a bit stuffy for an artist who’s always cultivated a lighthearted relationship to his artsy-fartsier tendencies, just know that the upcoming mash-up indulges his trademark eclecticism, joining vintage nudie reels and film noir B-picture into one big movie orgy Joe Dante would approve of.

The full slate collects twenty works originating from seventeen countries, the majority being co-productions with the UK. The press release emphasizes the focus on pressing issues in the new lineup, casting new virtual- and augmented-reality technologies as a mode of engaging with the world around us rather than cutting ourselves off from it.

Polish-Canadian coproduction The Choice places viewers in the shoes of a young First Nations woman from Texas as she relates her experiences with a medically perilous pregnancy she was forced to carry to term by anti-abortion legislation. Intravene uses “binaural 360-degree sound” to place audiences in the middle of Vancouver’s opioid overdose crisis. On the Morning You Wake relives one surreal, apocalyptic day during which citizens of Hawaii received mis-sent notice that nuclear annihilation was imminent.

The varied array of formats and subjects are united by the principle that empathy can be generated by physical means, that putting a person in someone else’s place will necessarily create a meaningful relationship between them. The politically charged selections for this year’s LFF Expanded section certainly court their own hot-button conversations, but they’re all part of a wider ongoing debate over the utility and industry placement of new technologies.

Published 24 Aug 2022

Tags: Guy Maddin Virtual Reality VR

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