#1220: Tribeca Immersive 2023 Preview with Curator Ana Brzezińska

I had a chance to speak with Tribeca Immersive curator Ana Brzezińska to break down each one of this year’s selection of 13 immersive stories. I’ll be in NYC from June 7-16th covering the festival, and so stay tuned for more coverage coming soon.

UPDATE August 18, 2023
Here are all 16 interviews that I recorded with immersive creators at Tribeca 2023.

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Music: Fatality

Rough Transcript

[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to the Voices of VR Podcast. It's a podcast that looks at the future of spatial computing. You can support the podcast at patreon.com slash voicesofvr. So in today's episode, I have a chance to talk to Anna Brzezinska, who's the immersive curator at Cherbeka Festival in New York City. And it's coming up here from June 9th to 19th. They're gonna have their 13 selections from Tribeca Immersive. And yeah, I wanted to get a sneak peek of all these different experiences that are both in the competition that they have, as well as their new voices competition. And so I had a chance to sit down with Anna back on Tuesday, May 30th, 2023, just to go through the program, all the other extra stuff and the talks and their market, and just to get a sense of, her curatorial vision it's a little bit smaller this year and they've also included the other thing which is games so they have a number of different games that are in competition which will be super curious to see and they're sharing the same space of the Tribeca games which is a different curated program but it'll be in the same space and trying to have a little bit more interaction between folks who are into games and folks that can see the immersive games and also immersive stories so there'll be one ticket you'll get a day-long pass And hopefully folks will be able to make it out. I'll be there both seeing all the things and talking to all the curators from June 8th till 16th. At the end, I'll be going to XR Access. They'll have a symposium that's also happening there in New York City. So if you're in town and want to go see what's happening in the future of accessibility, then also go check that out. But yeah, the actual festival will be running from June 9th to 19th. So we'll be covering all that and more on today's episode of the Vistas of VR podcast. So this interview with Anna happened on Tuesday, May 30th, 2023. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:01:54.545] Ana Brzezinska: My name is Anna Brzezinska and I am currently the immersive curator at Tribeca Festival in New York City.

[00:02:01.488] Kent Bye: And, uh, yeah, maybe you could give a bit more context as to your background and your journey into becoming a curator.

[00:02:07.508] Ana Brzezinska: Yes. So before joining Tribeca as their immersive curator, I had the pleasure of working with Lauren Hammons' team as one of the creative producers. I was involved in designing, co-producing, and delivering a couple of the virtual editions of Tribeca Immersive during the pandemic. And simultaneously and before that, I used to work with Rene Pinel at Kaleidoscope. I was head of studio where I was also responsible for co-curating and creative producing a lot of industry events that we've been involved in. So I guess that I might say that I have a very multifunctional past and immersive. So I was both involved in production and in creation and in curation. And before that, I used to work in television and the documentary film industry. My background is in theater originally.

[00:03:05.180] Kent Bye: Okay. And yeah, I know for the first year that you were curating Tribeca, you didn't have a full cycle. So you were coming in and then you had just a few months to put it all together. But this year you've had an entire year to program the Tribeca Immersive Festival. And there's a couple of changes that I just wanted to bring up up top. One is that the program's a little bit smaller. You say in the press release, highly curated with 13 different pieces. And then also there's more integration of gaming and interactive experiences. So I'd love to have you give a bit more context for some of these big changes that you have with this year's lineup.

[00:03:40.745] Ana Brzezinska: Yes, I think the changes that you noticed and that you mentioned, there's a couple of reasons why we decided this year to select less experiences. For starters, we see a certain change in how interactive experiences are being designed. There's a whole variety of new genres that we see appear. There's a lot of artists coming from different disciplines who are deciding to use immersive technology in their artistic practice. And as you also mentioned, there is this growing interest in creative immersive games. And all these new types of works, they more often than not require bigger footprints. And in order for the player or for the user to be able to appreciate the work, we just need to have more space. So in order to be able to host some of the works that this year really caught our attention, we decided just to give them the footprint that was required for both the creators and their audience members to feel comfortable, which resulted in the fact that we were only capable to accommodate a certain number of new works. What is also important is that Because we're very much a public-facing event, we want to make sure that the program we build is at once very rich and very diverse, but also interesting for regular audience members, and that the way we put these works together or the way we curate that showcase can also resonate with our audience members on a deeper level and can also show a little bit of what we see that was going on in the industry this year. And this year in particular, I feel that it is the first year where we see a lot of quality immersive games hitting the market. Obviously, there's going to be more, but I think that The fact that we have a very strong selection of immersive games is a certain type of statement. And I'm very glad that we also can share this space with our official game selection, because it's almost like we're trying to bring these two industries together. and have a discussion about what we are sharing and what we can do together better and how we can exchange inspiration and knowledge about interactive storytelling.

[00:06:13.259] Kent Bye: Yeah, just to clarify on that, because there is a separate Tribeca Games curation that has their own program and awards, and you're bringing in games into the Tribeca Immersive. And when you say that you're bringing them together, do you just mean that they're in the same building and that they can see their experiences? Or are you saying that there's actually a fusion potential in the future for those two programs?

[00:06:35.416] Ana Brzezinska: Well, this year we decided to bring these two selections in one exhibition space. So every year the Immersive Showcase was happening on the fifth floor in Spring Studios. That was the beating heart of where the festival was happening. This is where Immersive lives every year, regardless if there are additional events outside of Spring Studios. And because of the type of programming that we're introducing this year and a number of different reasons, we decided that games that last year were presented in a separate gallery on the ground floor in Spring Studios, would live this year together with the immersive selection on the fifth floor. So when you will come and visit the showcase in person, you will see that there's a certain path and there's a certain user journey in the way that space has been designed. And there's a certain dialogue between the video game selection and the immersive selection. They are still two separate selections in terms of There are different competitions, there are different juries, and of course there are two different curators, but we're sharing that space and we're trying to build bridges between these two industries.

[00:07:53.165] Kent Bye: Okay. Well, having attended Tribeca last year and checking out the games curation, having it in a gallery space meant that you could sort of drop in and experience it if it was open. But once it's in that fifth floor space, does that mean that you would have to have a ticket to see the games experiences? Or I know that in the past Tribeca has had sometimes a hybrid model where you get a ticket and you basically get carte blanche access to be able to see everything as long as maybe you might have to wait in line. But sometimes there's a hybrid approach where you, you rush in and you have to sign up. And then it's basically like, if you aren't there at the beginning and you don't get onto the list, then you may not be able to see things. So throughput is always a challenge. So I'd love to hear a little bit, both of whether or not there's going to be a similar type of hybrid approach for people watching experiences. And if there's going to be the similar type of drop-in experience that they've had in previous years with the games, or if they'll have to have a ticket to see those games this year.

[00:08:48.613] Ana Brzezinska: I think that this is very important, what you just mentioned, because on one hand, we introduced something that I personally hope will be a much easier solution for audience members, meaning we have an all-day ticket for both selections. So technically, you buy a $50 ticket, which allows you to see everything that is presented on the immersive and games floor. So this fifth floor is available for you with just one single ticket, and you can stay all day, or you can leave and come back. Of course, it's very difficult to consume immersive content and games in that kind of like marathon mode, but that's why we also want to make sure that You can watch something, you can leave, go have a coffee or have lunch and come back. So I think this is going to make things easier because it's very simple. It's pretty straightforward as a system. I think because we have less immersive experiences on the floor, you will have more time to actually focus. on each of these works. For those who will attend on the first weekend, they will have a unique opportunity to speak with creators who will be on site. And I think the quality of that experience will just be a little higher than when you have to really rush to be able to see a lot of works in a very short time. And I think that because these works are very, very engaging and they're very powerful, we have a very strong social impact selection this year. And I feel it's just healthier to watch these works in an environment when you can focus and you don't have to rush and you can sit down and think about everything that you've just seen, have a conversation about it with a friend and come back and maybe, you know, do something more playful and a little bit more joyful in that way.

[00:10:39.013] Kent Bye: Okay. Yeah. This is a new innovation for how to exhibit some of these different works. So I'll be very curious to see how that plays out. Cause there's always a trade off between the throughput and the limited amount of space. Cause previously it was like maybe two or three hour time slot. And then it was always kind of a rush, but now having a full day, maybe there'll be a very big rush at the beginning and then there'll be different waves and cycles, I imagine.

[00:11:02.522] Ana Brzezinska: Absolutely. And I think every year we're trying to learn from previous editions, and we're also observing how people's needs and expectations change. I think we live in a very different moment from an industry perspective, but also just from an everyday perspective than, for example, in 2019. I think it's a completely different reality. It's a completely different industry. And we have changed. I feel that very profoundly. And I think that it's better to maybe just give people a little bit more space and air to breathe. I think this is something that might be something that we only do this year. I don't know. But I think this year, this is something that was the right decision.

[00:11:48.271] Kent Bye: Okay. Well, I know that in previous years, I always like to know whether or not there are timed performances, meaning that you have to be at a certain place in time and there's also limited slots for people to sign up for. So are there any performances in this year's selection that are like that, where you have to set up a time beforehand to be able to see something?

[00:12:09.190] Ana Brzezinska: Yes, so we have a very, very special performance from the Smartphone Orchestra. Most of our industry members are very familiar with Stalia's work and what the orchestra can do. We're presenting a live experience called Emoji. And it's probably one of the most hilarious experiences I ever tried. And it really makes you feel good. It's extremely fun to do, and it really helps you to connect with people in a very unexpected way. And that performance, because of its nature, is only going to be presented three times. We have a show on Thursday and then a show on Saturday and on Sunday, the first week of the festival. And this particular experience is available not on the fifth floor, but on the seventh floor in the AT&T lounge. So I think it's going to be easier to navigate if also people who are interested in Emoji follow the Games and Immersive Talk schedule because Emoji, the show, is always happening after or before the Games and Immersive Talk to make it easier for people just to organize their time at the festival. And I really, really recommend this experience to anyone who just wants to be part of something that at once brings that theatrical quality of being part of something that only lasts for a couple minutes with a random group of people that maybe you've never met before, but it also just feels so liberating to be part of that show. So yes, this is something that is definitely a very limited opportunity and we only have three shows.

[00:13:52.451] Kent Bye: How many people can see it at the same time?

[00:13:54.972] Ana Brzezinska: I would say the capacity of the space is up to 70 people. But I think that I remember when I when I've seen the first demo, maybe there was 30 or 40 people in the room. And it already felt busy. But yes, I think it will really change depending on the type of people you have in the room and the number of people in the room and the general feeling in the space.

[00:14:23.300] Kent Bye: Okay. Well, that's a good transition into talking about two parts of the selection. There's the main competition, which emoji is one of the six experiences that are in the main competition. And then you have the new voices competition. And so maybe we could start by going through each of the different experiences and give a little bit of a sneak preview for this year's selection.

[00:14:44.173] Ana Brzezinska: Yes, so I think that it's very, very interesting maybe just to start with the fact that we introduced new voices as a separate in competition category last year. And the intention was to celebrate creators who are joining the immersive space. But I think that even in my wildest dreams, I wouldn't expect that we're going to be so privileged to work with so many phenomenal artists coming from different art disciplines, artists that have extensive experience in theater, literature, photography, visual arts. And those creators are now working with immersive tools. And we have that exclusive opportunity to present their works for the first time to our audience members. So I think I want to start with just highlighting this particular category because it's a very, very interesting group of works and a very sophisticated group of artists that we're hosting this year. But in main competition, we have an equally exciting group of established creators often working with very well-known studios and broadcasters and co-producers. So where should I start? I'm looking at the program right now because I need my cheat sheet. I think I want to start with Blacklines. Black Lens is a new experience from Kinfolk. Kinfolk is an immersive augmented reality production team that has a very, very strong background in activism. And Idris Brewster, who is the director and the leader of Kinfolk, He already was present at Tribeca a couple of years ago. But I really wanted him to present the new works that Ken Fulk created this year at Tribeca, because it's not only a very interesting case study of how a small group of very committed activists and storytellers created an AR startup that became so successful, that has grown into something that is a mission for probably at least 10 to 15 years time. and that has such a powerful impact on the local communities, on the communities in New York City, but also that can show us actually how immersive technology can really become a true bridge between real reality and the world of storytelling. So Blacklands is a custom installation from Kinfolk that is presenting three brand new augmented reality monuments. And that is also highlighting some of the location-based experiences that will be available in New York City during the festival. So that's a very moving selection for us because Idris is a Tribeca alumni and having him back at Immersive is really a big deal for me.

[00:17:51.884] Kent Bye: Just a quick follow-up on that, because I know that it mentions in the description that there's an location-based component and you said that there's a installation. And so are these three different stories viewable all within the main fifth floor home at Tribeca or, and is there also a available to be able to see them out in the location-based environment as well?

[00:18:14.857] Ana Brzezinska: Yes, exactly. So the goal was to actually create almost like an embassy of what Kinfolk offers in public spaces across New York City within the exhibition space and Spring Studios. So we really want to encourage New Yorkers to discover what Kinfolk does. through the presentation that we're going to have in spring, but then also we really want them to go and explore how these works are presented in an actual public space. And what's even more interesting is that the team has been working also on additional materials that will give audience members a little bit of more understanding of what these particular interventions mean for community members who currently live in New York City. So I think that's also going to bring that added value where we will understand better why this work is so significant and why it's very strongly rooted in real reality. And I think there's a certain irony to the fact that just recently Kinfolk presented their works at the MoMA. And obviously now they're returning to Tribeca with a brand new experience, but they are not really your typical museum slash gallery type of experience. We're bringing them to an exhibition space to allow more people from our circle to know about it, but what they really are extremely passionate about and what they do really fantastically well is building those connections with real people and with real communities who are not necessarily members of XR or industry circle that we spend most of our time with.

[00:20:01.777] Kent Bye: Great. And maybe we could talk about some of the other pieces in the competition

[00:20:06.027] Ana Brzezinska: So we already spoke briefly about emoji, and I think what is really cool about that piece is that it plays in a very smart and intelligent way with the phenomenon of emoji as almost a code or language that we use to communicate. And I feel that there's a very intelligent way of looking at emojis as something that seem very simple and almost simplistic sometimes, but also something that allows us unexpectedly to share a little bit more than we would normally say or try to communicate to other people. And the Smartphone Orchestra team used that duality to create a live show where they actually orchestrate your mood and your readiness to open to other people in the room. So it's a very unique experience in that way. It's, again, almost a social experiment, but a very positive one, I would say. We have a very interesting short film with spatial sounds that is called In Search of Time. And this particular work has been created with stable diffusion. So Piers Zdravich and Matthew Tierney, they use stable diffusion to generate most of the imagery you're going to see in that short film. I really want everybody to see this work because For me, there are two things that are important in this work. One, it's probably the most beautiful and thoughtful use of AI that I've seen so far in the so-called immersive space, but also just digital space at large. And I also feel that through the use of stable diffusion as one of the filmmaking techniques, Pierre and Matt actually managed to create that kind of layered sense of reality that you get when you're watching this film, which is so distinct and so typical for immersive storytelling. And I think if they were not coming from XR and from spatial storytelling, they maybe wouldn't make that film that way. They wouldn't use this tool that way. So yes, that's why it's one of the most exciting selections, because it's quite unusual. But I think it's definitely something that is showing one of the best examples of how creators can use artificial intelligence in their creative process. We have an immersive game coming from the creators of Missing Pictures from Atlus 5 called Monstrorama, which is a mixed reality game that is episode one of a series about a museum that is housing a collection of different types of monsters. And there's a twist to the plot that I'm not going to reveal. But in that first episode, you are going to meet with the werewolf. And it's a very, very beautifully designed work. It's also quite nostalgic in a way. And I feel that it's probably one of those experiences that will make many people crawl under their sofa. At least I did that when I was playing it for the first time. So it's a pass-through experience that is using mixed reality and is projecting the space and the entire story around you in a space that is technically your living room. Next door, we have another immersive game, The Pirate Queen, A Forgotten Legend from Singer Studios, which is a new chapter of the Pirate Queen series that Eloise Singer has been developing already for a while. And in this particular episode, you have to face a lot of challenges, a lot of very physical challenges sometimes. You need to paddle to get to the ship and you need to look for clues and information inside the ship that is hiding an untold story of a fearless and fierce Chinese pirate queen. And to continue on what we have in the immersive games in main competition section, we have Pixel Rift 1978, a game from Arvore, the creators of Alenia, this time in co-production with Atari. An absolutely fantastic game, a game within a game. a game that is showing you how a legendary Atari game was built and you're part of that process and you're circling between the Atari headquarters where you're actually making that game and the game proper inside of which you need to face different challenges and chase dragons with a tennis rocket and do many, many fantastic things. So the main competition is really packed with experiences and works from very well-known studios and very well-known creators, who this year are bringing to Tribeca some of the examples of absolutely new type of thinking about what immersive and interactive storytelling is. Because as you can see, although We know all these names and all these directors and all these producers, each and every single one of them is working on something very, very new and challenging themselves to actually try to introduce a new format or a new type of storytelling using new technologies.

[00:25:33.179] Kent Bye: Yeah, that's really exciting to see those six pieces in competition. Looking forward to seeing each of those. And yeah, maybe let's move on to the new voices competition and talk about some of those selections.

[00:25:43.031] Ana Brzezinska: Well, New Voices this year is really a dream selection for me because it's not only extremely rich and diverse in terms of types of stories, types of visual languages, types of technologies, but also, as I already mentioned, we're welcoming to the immersive space a group of absolutely extraordinary creators. I want to start with The Fury. It's an experience that I could actually talk about for many, many hours, but I will try to make it as short as possible because it's a 360 video that is part of a longer 2D video installation. So you will have two components. First, you're going to see the 360 video. It's only six minutes, very, very short. And then you're going to see a two-channel video installation that is in the second part of that room that offers context to what you've just seen in VR. And I have to say that when I saw that work for the first time, I needed a couple of hours to actually get myself together after seeing it. And I have to say that I never thought that I will ever see a work that uses 360 filmmaking in such a powerful way. And it actually made me understand that when you have an artist like Shirin Nesha, who has such a phenomenal understanding of every single tool that she's using to tell the story that she's trying to share. You know, the medium almost becomes invisible, but the moment when she's using it, you understand that there was no other way of doing it, that this is the most powerful way of using that medium that you could actually think of. And as I say, it feels very simple. But as you know, to make something that feels very simple and has such a powerful impact on the viewer, it really requires a top class artist. And I think this is what we're dealing with. So I'm very proud that we are the ones who are showing this work for the first time. I also feel that the moment when we're showing it makes this work particularly relevant because Shirin shot this 360 video before everything that happened in Iran just recently. So there was a different context to it. But today it almost feels like that was the reason why this film was shot. And I think that I really recommend everyone to see it. And I really recommend everyone to also take a short break after seeing it because you need a little bit of time just to breathe after experiencing that film. I think we can really use the word experience in this particular case with full responsibility. So that's definitely a work that I would like to highlight. And just next door, we have a mixed reality installation that we're bringing from Paris, straight from Centre Pompidou. We're just open to a very enthusiastic group of people who, the reception in Paris was absolutely spectacular. I think this this installation will be very successful. And I hope it will travel, and I hope people will see it, because it's a combination of a HoloLens 3D experience, theater, very thoughtful, very purposeful physical sets, fantastic music, video installation. And all that is based on a novel of a French writer, Tania de Montaigne, called Color. It has taken years for Tania, Pierre-Alain, and Stéphane to bring this experience to life. And I believe that, again, it's probably one of the most sophisticated, powerful, well-written, and well-directed experiences that we have ever seen. And the quality of the holograms, the quality of the user experience, also from a technological perspective, is stunning. And we've known for a long time how difficult it is to work with this particular technology. So we're going to show a smaller version in terms of footprint than the one that premiered in Paris. I think we're going to be able to host three players a time, because this is a free roaming experience that requires a lot of space. So it's really something that has been designed for museums, for galleries, for big cultural centers that can host a free roaming experience that requires a massive footprint and takes you on a 40 minute journey. We have an experience called Minif. It's produced by the National Film Board, so it doesn't really feel as a New Voices experience, but it is because Terrell is the director coming from animation. And originally, Minif was an animated short film that eventually got translated into a spatial experience that creates their own custom technology to cut the story in three layers. And it's an experiment that plays with what it actually means to create an augmented reality experience. Because it's an animated short film that is extraordinarily well written and directed. And that short film is being projected on a custom device. that has three separate screens. And depending on the angle from which you look at either of those screens, you see a different part of the story. And only if we're looking for the central screen, you see all three layers coming together. And because this experiment is based on the fact that the story is about two very strong symbolic figures fighting for the soul of the main protagonist, it kind of becomes an example of how the medium becomes the message. So a very beautiful example of almost an analog version of what augmented reality means. Maya, The Birth, is another experience that we're presenting in the New Voices category. This work is brought to us by Tribeca veterans from Floreal. Kata Yoon and Avi are bringing their latest experience and animated work directed by Pulumi Basu and CJ Clark. And this is a very impressive collaboration. It's a shared effort from the team behind the project, but also Meta and France Télévision. And it's an animated story that brings you inside a world of a teenager, Maya, who lives in London and who is facing stigma and violence from her peers and from her family for the simple fact that she's becoming a woman and she's menstruating. And this work is a result of years and years of work of Pulumi, who has been well known as a women's rights activist and obviously a visual artist with a lot of success. And she brought her knowledge about this particular problem that many girls and teenagers and women are still facing around the world to Kateun and to Avi. And they turned it into a very poetic, very beautifully animated, but still very powerful tale about how women can reclaim their strength and their power, even in the circumstances when they're being punished for who they are. We have a very exciting work from Craig Quintero, who works with the Riverbed Theatre Company in Taiwan, titled Over the Rainbow. It's the second chapter from a trilogy that you might be familiar with because it started with All That Remains. A very beautiful experience that premiered in Venice and that was awarded in Luxembourg. And now Craig is bringing a second part of that trilogy, a very different experience. Also a 360 video that is a very sophisticated example of how you can actually use this technology to create a theater for one experience. a theatrical experience when you know that everything you see is being created and performed just for you. And also, I think that what is very beautiful about this particular work is that it plays with the notion of the fourth wall and who is looking and who is being looked at. But it also tries to capture, I think, that kind of elusive feeling that we're never where we want to be and that we're always just trying to chase a dream that we're never being capable of really making into reality. But I think the kind of metaphor that Craig is building with his team is, again, it's a very sophisticated example of how to use the language of classical theater in an immersive medium through something that we thought was maybe a technology that we're not excited about anymore, 360 filming. Actually, we're learning from artists like Craig and Shirin that if you use 360 well, it can become extraordinary. And then we have Mahal. And Mahal is, personally, I think it's a very beautiful story for two reasons. One is that Michaela Tarnowsky-Holland, who for many of us is known as a fantastic supporter of Immersive Creators, a very successful impact producer, she is now presenting her first work as a director. The Hall is a second chapter of a series called Reimagined that is all female-led, that is bringing different fragments of different mythologies to life. through female voices. And why I particularly love this work is that only Michaela is reconnecting in this work with her own heritage and with her own roots, because she's bringing a part of Filipino mythology to her directorial debut. But she's also telling us this story through her own personal experience of grief, because that story is a love letter to her late father. And the combination of these two creative streams that are fueling Michela's imagination is very moving, very beautiful. And because she's probably one of the kindest people in the immersive space I've ever met, I think it's really a beautiful moment for us to be able to host her debut as part of our selection. Fortune is an extraordinary example of how micro storytelling can actually become a vehicle for a fully developed story, a story that is engaging, a story that has a charismatic lead character, a story that actually stays with you, all through the use of AR lenses, Fortune has been produced for Snap and for Instagram. So it's using AR lenses technology to actually become vehicles for a series of seven different human stories about our relationship with money. So every single episode is a different human story about a person that had a particular type of experience in life or made some particular life choices because of money, wealth, sometimes greed. So it's a very relevant and very timely series. But I think what is really beautiful and why I really appreciate this work is that It's showing us that we can actually use technology that we thought was only designed for entertainment, for social media exchanges, for marketing, for sales. We can actually use this very same technology to share stories that people can connect with, that resonate with contemporary audiences, and that can inspire people to try to do the same with their own stories. And I hope that that's going to be the outcome of that premiere, is that people will start thinking that actually every single medium you can think of can become a storytelling medium. And you can use it to share stories that are valuable and relevant and bring some kind of sense and order to our life.

[00:39:09.010] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, this is really quite an exciting lineup and I'm looking forward to seeing all these different pieces. I know I had a chance to see All That Remains at Venice and have a chance to talk to Craig Contero and also actually saw the first episode of Reimagined, which is a part of Michaela Tarnasky-Holland's, you know, there's a volume one that showed at Venice. So this is volume two. So there's a couple of followups from Venice that I'm also looking forward to. I know that typically at Tribeca Festival, there's usually some talks and I don't know if there's additional aspects of, you know, some festivals have had the market for producers, you know, like at Venice, there's a gap financing market where projects that are near the end of phase are trying to find the finishing funds. And so I don't know if there's an equivalent type of market dimension to Tribeca this year at all, or an industry component or the talks maybe could talk about some of the other components that you have lined up this year for Tribeca Immersive 2023.

[00:40:04.687] Ana Brzezinska: Of course. Well, of course, we're hosting talks with creators who are selected in competition. We're going to have a series of talks, both for games and immersive, during that first weekend of the festival, all hosted by AT&T in the lounge on the seventh floor. I think what's really cool about the fact that we're hosting talks where we're bringing together creators who are interested in similar topics or similar aspects of creation, but actually the outcome of what they do is completely different. So having them together and having a conversation about their practice, about their inspirations, about their struggles, and their hopes and expectations is always extremely helpful and informative, especially for me, just to kind of be able to learn more from them, but also listen to them talking to each other. We have a talk about activism and its relationship to immersive art with Lumi Basu, Tanya de Montaigne, Idris Brewster, and we're going to hear from them about their experience of translating their lifelong mission into a piece of immersive storytelling and what it means for them, how it helps them connect with new audiences. We have a talk about female-led projects and female-led stories, but also the role of women in the shaping of the immersive industry. And we're going to hear from Katayoun, from Floreal, from Ana Ribeiro, from Arvore, Michaela, Eloise. And that talk is moderated by Paisley Smith from Unity for Humanity. And I want to mention here that Unity for Humanity, they have been multi-year supporter of Tribeca Creators and they're also generously supporting Creators in competition this year as well. Unity for Humanity also offered two kickoff grants to two teams that are in the official Creators market selection. So that is a very important and meaningful contribution, especially given the current economic landscape and the fact that a lot of our friends and peers in Immersive have been struggling this year with financing and moving forward with their budgets and with their productions. So speaking of Creators Market, of course, that is also something that was always part of Tribeca, and it still is. Creators Market is an invitation-only event for creators who are working on new projects, on new works, who are looking for networking, mentorship, and obviously business connections. And we obviously have that selection this year as well. So we're going to host an edition of Creators Market in the second week of the festival and the official selection will be announced very soon.

[00:42:56.242] Kent Bye: What day is that happening? Is it on a single day?

[00:42:58.765] Ana Brzezinska: Yes, it's happening on Tuesday, June 13th.

[00:43:02.508] Kent Bye: Oh, okay.

[00:43:03.668] Ana Brzezinska: I mean, I think as usual, there's going to be a variety of private events that are co-hosted by us or that we are not officially part of, but that are organized by the community. And I think this is also always a very valuable part. of the festival schedule for many guests and industry members. There's going to be an event hosted by Taika where you will be able to hear from Craig and from his team about Over the Rainbow. And there's going to be also a separate conversation with the entire Coloured team. These two experiences were supported by Taika and are supported by Taika also here in New York. So there's going to be a separate opportunity to just speak with these two teams and learn about their work and how it actually happened that these works came together. And also, we're working with the New Inc. and the New Museum. our friends in New York City on a private event for industry leaders that is dedicated to the incubation and development of immersive projects. We want to see how we can exchange our experiences and share knowledge and support each other and specifically discuss how to better support the artists that are part of our programs that we're supporting through different types of residencies, or development programs, or incubators, markets. Because I think we all recognize that there are changes happening, not only on the market, but also within the industry. And I think it's good to also have more private spaces to have those deeper conversations with our friends and with industry leaders that we're trying to work with very closely to make that industry grow and just be successful.

[00:45:03.852] Kent Bye: Yeah. And I know last year Onyx studio had like an exhibition and they may have another one this year during Tribeca. And after the festival, there's actually another event that I'm going to be going to, which is worth mentioning, which is a XR accessibility conference called XR access that's happening on the 15th and 16th. That'll be staying in New York city to go and cover as well. So I'll be there throughout the week, covering all the stuff at Tribeca and going all the different events and talking to as many of the creators as I can, seeing all the different experiences. So I'm really. Looking forward to this trip and always lots of really great stuff that's happening around this. Sounds like you have a really amazing lineup this year. And I guess as we start to wrap up, I'd love to hear what you think the ultimate potential of virtual and augmented reality XR might be and the intersection of immersive storytelling and what it might be able to enable.

[00:45:53.767] Ana Brzezinska: I think every year we talk, there's a different answer to that question. And there's a variety of reasons why this answer is changing. I think This year is the year where what I'm really interested in is understanding how can we really promote works that are of highest quality, that can allow people to appreciate even more what this industry and the tools that this industry has developed and created are capable of. I would love to understand how we can find space and time and all the noise that we're hearing every day, all the noise that makes people just feel tired with technology. And I want to see how we can get back their trust and their interest in what we do. I think the ultimate potential of XR is never fully defined. For me, it's always about trying to find the right way to make people understand that when they go back to real reality, they can appreciate it even more than when they actually left it for a short while to visit a virtual world or an augmented reality experience. rather than less or rather than feeling, oh, actually a synthetic add-on is something that I'm more excited about than what I have just in front of me. So as long as we can go towards this direction and make sure that this medium and this technology is allowing us to have a meaningful conversation with each other and maybe a more modest approach to what reality is and who we are in this reality, then I would say this is what I would like to fight for. But it's not obvious and I think that's why we need to have meetings like the one that we're hosting at Tribeca to invite like-minded people to have that discussion together and see how we can support each other in that mission.

[00:48:01.235] Kent Bye: Awesome. Is there anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say to the broader immersive community?

[00:48:06.627] Ana Brzezinska: No, I'm just very curious to hear from everyone at Tribeca what they feel after seeing our selection this year. I encourage everyone to connect with creators who are going to be on site because they're all coming to New York. So even if there's just that short window when they are available, it's a really unique opportunity just to have that conversation, that in-person exchange. Yes. And we're always interested in hearing people's thoughts and feedback about what we do. So I'm always open to, to a conversation with our guests and about what this election this year is about.

[00:48:47.231] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, Tribeca Immersive is happening during the Tribeca Film Festival that's going from June 7 to 18. Actually, is it the same days for the Immersive? When is the Immersive dates?

[00:48:57.196] Ana Brzezinska: We're opening to the general public on June 9. So on June 7, we have the opening night for the wider festival, but Immersive opens on June 9. It actually goes through June 9 through June 18.

[00:49:13.399] Kent Bye: Okay, great. Well, really looking forward to checking it out by the time our conversation airs, we're recording this on Tuesday, May 30th. And there's the big Apple reveal that's happening on June 5th. So I'll be watching that. And probably by the time people listen to this, we'll already know what the Apple devices and everything. So we'll be walking into sort of like a immersive this year with a new player in the industry, fingers crossed. It's. still yet to be announced, but I think all indications are pointing to Apple entering into the fray. So that'll be another exciting thing for folks to be talking about as we all gather together as probably the first big event outside of the big announcement. So looking forward to that as well.

[00:49:54.541] Ana Brzezinska: Wonderful. Thank you so much.

[00:49:56.522] Kent Bye: So that was Anna Brzezinska. She's the immersive curator at Chewbacca Festival in New York City, and it's happening from June 9th to 19th. So I'm super excited to see these 13 different experiences and hope to have a chance to talk to each of the different creators. It's a little bit smaller selection so I should be able to get through all the different pieces and have a chance to talk to all the different creators that are around. And yeah also check out the market and just the whole scene that's happening there. There's going to be some other stuff that's happening on that Saturday. There is going to be the Onyx studio that's happening in Manhattan. They're going to be having an exhibition there showing some of their latest works using motion capture and other experiments. I covered a lot of what they were doing at Ifadak Lab and their collaboration there of bringing the fusion of motion capture and the future of these experiments from theater and dance and immersive storytelling. But the main focus for me is going to be, first of all, going through all the different experiences at Tribeca Immersive and talking to different creators. And yeah, I'll be there hanging around and also checking out this accessibility conference that's happening at the end of the week from June 15th and 16th. So if you're going to be there, then come out and say hello as well. So super excited to be checking all this out. Then I should have a little bit more coverage. I mean, there's been so much news that's happening over the last couple of weeks. I have a whole like 23 interviews that I did at Augmented World Expo. I went to new images and did a bunch of interviews, went to all virtual, have some interviews. And, you know, really focusing at Augmented World Expo at this intersection between artificial intelligence and virtual reality. And then also went to a whole medical conference at VMed 23 that I did a number of interviews there. So lots of different series to be coming up, but first I want to go to Tribeca, get that out, and then dig into all the stuff that's been happening over the last couple of months, because it's been a lot of travel, a lot of different events, and lots of really great conversations that I'm looking forward to sharing more. So, that's all I have for today, and I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast. And if you enjoyed the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, and consider becoming a member of the Patreon. This is a listener-supported podcast, and so I do rely upon donations from people like yourself in order to continue bringing this coverage. So you can become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash voicesofvr. Thanks for listening.

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