Hattie Lloyd 02/09/22

BFI London Film Festival: Expanded

Film: undoubtedly one of the greatest forms of modern art, enveloping you in captivating storylines, transporting you through time and space, and opening your eyes to the lives of others.

But sometimes, the characters can seem so… two-dimensional.

Enter 3D film.

This new strand of film-making is becoming increasingly popular as VR becomes more accessible (and less weird and jerky). And it just so happens that you can experience it for yourself when the BFI London Film Festival rolls back into town this October.

Aside from the traditional week-long celebration of the genre – featuring exclusive screenings, director Q&As, panel discussions and more – the BFI will be hosting its Expanded programme for a third year, highlighting the most exciting filmic works making the use of AR, VR, mixed reality and 360º cameras.

Darkfield’s shipping container in a previous location

It’s taking place across three venues around the Southbank: the BFI itself, the National Theatre, and the industrial railway tunnels beneath Waterloo station. In total, there are an impressive 19 different experiences on offer, including:

  • Walzer, explore vast panoramas constructed using old black & white photographs and set to a haunting original score;
  • The Choice, a VR documentary exploring reproductive rights in America after Roe vs. Wade;
  • Line of Contact, a deeply affecting piece which plays footage from the frontline of the Russian invasion of Ukraine within a custom headset;
  • Haunted Hotel, a series of eccentric, three-dimensional collages set behind virtual peepholes;
  • A Mighty Mass Emerges, a huge VR piece in which you’re invited to explore the ocean… as a whale;
  • Crackdown, a documentary from pioneering sound artists Darkfield, sharing the experiences of drug users in Vancouver and played inside a pitch-black shipping container; and
  • The Infinite Library. In the VR world, you’re exploring an endless repository of human stories; in the real world you’re wearing motion sensors and standing in a box of sand.

It’s no coincidence that so many of these pieces have social, political or environmental angles to them – by literally placing viewers at the heart of the experience, VR film-makers are hoping that we’ll become more empathetic and engaged on modern issues.

Of course, the wider film festival has plenty of other things vying for your attention, too. There’ll be star-studded premieres of brand new films like Matilda the Musical; Surprise Film screenings; and of course a whole roster of ground-breaking new features, shorts and documentaries from critically acclaimed film-makers around the world…

…but this is virtually the best part.


NOTE: The BFI London Film Festival 2022 takes place from 5th – 16th October at various venues around the Southbank. To find out more, and book tickets, head HERE.

Love cinema? Check out our pick of the best new films to watch this month

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