Sheffield Doc Fest will feature several projects in its VR cinema this year.

The VR cinema at Sheffield Hallam’s Performance Lab brings together audiences to collectively experience twelve 360° narrative documentary experiences and includes Potato Dreams which tells the story of Little Potato’s journey growing up gay in the Soviet Union and his mother’s struggles to create a better life for them both by becoming a mail-order bride to travel to America. Twelve VR cinema documentaries will be shown.

In addition, there will be some 360° projects competing for the Alternate Realities Best Digital Narrative Award, which honours the best use of narrative and story within a digital context conveying a powerful message focused on non-fiction or with non-nonfiction roots or research as its starting point, will be exhibited. The ones competing will be:

4 Feet: Blind Date, created by Maria Belen Poncio, the story of Juana, an 18-year-old woman in a wheelchair, anxious to explore her sexuality, overcoming her fears, doubts, and an inaccessible city to meet ‘Felipe’ for a blind date.

256 hours of audio archives bring back to life the political battle waged by Mandela and his seven co-defendants, looking at one of them in particular, Accused Number 2: Walter Sisulu created by Gilles Porte and Nicolas Champeaux.

The Atomic Tree created by Adam Loften and Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee journey into the memories of a 400-year-old Japanese white pine bonsai that witnessed and survived the atomic blast in Hiroshima.

Music and documentary collide in John Lynch’s Crackle Pop, an immersive representation of the perceptual phenomenon of synaesthesia, based on the real-life experience of synesthetes listening to the music of Paul Russell’s post-punk orchestra, Human Pyramids.

Viktorija Mickute’s The Curse of Palm Oil, looking at the rampant deforestation, displacement and conflict caused by Asia’s flourishing palm oil industry, unveiling the appalling social and ecological impact on Malaysian tribal communities.

Inspired by Malala Yousafzai’s programme to change the lives of the 130 million girls who miss out on school, Sadah Espii Proctor’s Girl Icon shares Rani’s journey to gain an education for herself and the other girls in her community.

Nyasha Kadandara’s Le Lac is a journey through change and rupture, as told by the poetic voice of Lake Chad herself, depended on by millions, now shrunk to a tenth of her former self.

Also exhibiting at Hallam Performance Lab, as part of this year’s VR Cinema, where public and delegates can immerse themselves in the world of 360° video.

Bauhaus in Bavaria created by Andrea Zimmermann and Stefan Goeppel, spotlights the Rosenthal factory buildings, the last architectural masterpieces of the Bauhaus icon Walter Gropius.

In The Dreams of Henri Rousseau Nicolas Authemantransforms the surreal and sublime greenhouse of the Jardin des Plantes in Paris to reveal the secrets of the painter Henri Rousseau.

Vikas Pandey’s Hand in Hand: A Story of Faith and Friendship in Kumbh is a spiritual trip through the largest gathering of people on Earth, in India’s Kumbh Mela, so mammoth it can be seen from space.

Potato Dreams, created by Wes Hurley and Nathan Miller, tells the story of Little Potato’s journey growing up gay in the Soviet Union and his mother’s struggles to create a better life for them both by becoming a mail-order bride to travel to America.

Traveling While Black created by Roger Ross Williams, Felix Lajeunesse, Paul Raphael and Ayesha Nadarajah, a detailed overview into the long history of the constrained movement for black Americans and the creation of safe places in communities.


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Tom Ffiske

Editor, Virtual Perceptions

Tom Ffiske specialises in writing about VR, AR, and MR across the immersive reality industry. Tom is based in London. 

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