Virtual Reality returns to the ShorTS IFF 2021

The 22nd edition of the festival will see the return of ShorTS Virtual Reality, the section dedicated entirely to VR short films.

For 5 days from the 5th to the 9th July, free screenings of the 13 selected films will be held at the Casa del Cinema in Trieste.
which will be transformed into a virtual cinema, where audiences can try out the new technology at individual stations equipped with headsets and revolving armchairs.


Virtual reality returns to Trieste. Following the success of previous years, the 22nd edition of ShorTS International Film Festival marks the return of the competitive section ShorTS Virtual Reality, dedicated entirely to short films shot in virtual reality.

The section spans five days from Thursday 5th to Friday 9th July, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm, at the Casa del Cinema in Trieste, where the free screenings of the 13 works in competition will take place. The rooms in Piazza Duca degli Abruzzi will be transformed into a virtual movie theatre, where spectators will be able to experience this new technology. Each station will be equipped with a visor and a revolving armchair that will allow viewers to watch the short films in competition and move 360° whilst experiencing this new approach to cinema.

This year the section will feature 13 short films made using the virtual reality technique in monoscopic or stereoscopic versions. The winning short film will win the people’s choice prize of €2,000.00.

The 13 shorts in competition are from a wide range of places, including from the United States, China, Iran, Australia, Romania and Italy. The genres range from more experimental works to fictional shorts and those that tackle more contemporary issues, but they all involve this virtual reality aspect. Thanks to virtual reality, technology can be utilised in the process of artistic expression and offers the audience at ShorTS a new way of experiencing the art of cinema.

Thanks to VR technology we have the opportunity to experience out of the ordinary situations, places and perspectives that would otherwise be alive only in our imaginations. These shorts often take us on an emotional journey, for example Shao Qing’s Black Bag is a Chinese short film in virtual reality that employs the artistic effect of 2D brushstrokes in a story that raises crucial questions about human nature. The story revolves around Mr. S, an ex-member of the military and now a regular bank clerk, who fantasises about a major robbery: a dream that will soon become a reality.

om Taiwan, Hsu Chih-Yen’s short film Jiou Jia – Home, uses an evocative sequence shot to outline the portrait of a family and its relational dynamics. Thanks to the immersive experience of virtual reality, the spectator sees from the point of view of the infirm grandmother, around whom the members of a large family gather during a summer afternoon. This is a touching work that involves the viewer in a perfect dialogue between real and virtual.

There is a place for fantasy too with the Swiss film La stanza di Hermann by Antonio Librera, a ghost story in VR set in a hotel reminiscent of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. The US short film Hominidae by Brian Andrews offers an immersive experience in the sci-fi genre, telling the story of an arachnid hominid with great visual impact, as does the French production Odyssey 1.4.9 by François Vautier, a breathtaking VR journey into the heart of the visual effects of 2001: A Space Odyssey in a tribute that reveals the secrets of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece.

Two of the Italian works selected include the Italian-Indian production Om Devi: Sheroes Revolution by award-winning documentary filmmaker Claudio Casale, who had previously made My Tyson, a 2018 Nastri d’Argento nominee, winner of the MigrArti Best Documentary Award at the 75th Venice International Film Festival and Best Short and Best Editing at ShorTS 2018. He also made Shero, in the David di Donatello shortlist for Best Short Film 2021. Here, at his debut using virtual reality, the director takes an realistic journey into today’s India, through the eyes of three women who, in different ways, tell their dreams of gender equality in a country shaken by claims for fundamental civil rights. Also coming from Italy is the short film VR Free by Milad Tangshir, produced by Valentina Noya – Associazione Museo Nazionale del Cinema – and made with the support of Film Commission Torino Piemonte thanks to the Under35 Digital Video Contest. The short film explores the essence of being in detention in the Lorusso and Cutugno prisons in Turin, capturing the reaction of some inmates watching immersive videos on life outside prison. Using VR visors and headsets, the inmates virtually took part in some public and private situations that they can no longer experience, such as watching a sports match at the stadium, a disco party, or meeting their family in a park. Presented as a world premiere at the 76th Venice International Film Festival and selected for numerous festivals, Milad Tangshir’s documentary immerses the viewer in the little-known world of prisons, reigniting the important debate on detention spaces.

“The return of ShorTS International Film Festival in person also marks the return of immersive cinema” – explains video designer and creative technologist Antonio Giacomin, the new curator of the ShorTS Virtual Reality section – “and with that comes the return of virtual reality in person after a year of things being virtual not by choice, and the totally virtual 2020 edition of the festival. In a time when the terms ‘virtual’, ‘immersive’, ‘in person’ are now part of everyday life and we are almost addicted to them, the return of the section dedicated to virtual reality – or rather, to immersive cinema in person – is a strong sign. This shows a desire to participate, to compare, to understand. Immersive cinema holds a narrative power that allows the author to observe their world and their story from a privileged point of view, leaving the spectator time to draw conclusions by accompanying them on the journey they have just made. We can therefore say with gusto: welcome back ShorTS Virtual Reality in person!”

The screenings of the short films in the ShorTS Virtual Reality section will be free of charge however booking is  compulsory, following the instructions on the festival’s official website

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