Sarajevo Film Festival 2024

French Director Clément Deneux takes top VR honours at 27th Ji.hlava IDFF

The 27th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival crowned its best VR project this year, selected by an international jury of industry experts. Missing Pictures: Naomi Kawase, directed by French filmmaker Clément Deneux, took home the main prize, garnering praise for its innovative storytelling and use of the medium’s full potential. The awards were handed out following the Visegrad Accelerator: Reality and Virtual Worlds in V4 Countries panel conversation. The discussion dove into the nuanced relationship between real and virtual worlds, spotlighting the educational and didactic functions, as well as the artistic possibilities these formats offer.

The distinguished panel and jury was made up of Czech artist Vojtěch Radakulan, Hungarian scholar Bujdosó Gyöngyi from the University of Debrecen, and Krzysztof Pijarski of the Polish Lodz Film School. Their collective expertise shaped the decision-making process, as they reviewed twelve 360° films and spatial installations.

Missing Pictures: Naomi Kawase explores the theme of self-acceptance through a bicycle trip love story. Renowned Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase serves as the subject matter for this immersive experience. The project is a co-production involving five countries: France, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, South Korea, and Luxembourg.

In their statement, the jury said: «As the jury we decided to give the main prize for VR experiences to a piece that uses the potential of the medium to it’s fullest: a real-time interactive experience that gives the viewer freedom of movement and a sense of participating in the story, that allows us to (re)imagine not only situations that we were not a part of, but also ones that never came to be.»

Two other projects received special mentions from the jury:

  1. Flow VR by Adriaan Lokmaan (Netherlands, France): Celebrated for its use of spatial imagery and sound, the project suggests a sense of fluidity through wind and sweeping air currents. The jury highlighted that the project shows “how sensuous experiences, such as the caress of water on the skin, can be felt with just visuals and music in a documentary manner.”
  2. The Man Who Couldn’t Leave by Singing Chen (Taiwan): The VR experience tells the story of A-Kuen, a former political detainee in Taiwan, focusing on historical events from the 1950s. The jury awarded it an honorable mention for “pushing 360 video to its limits, in depicting historical events.”

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