Friday, September 19, 2014
Preview: NYFF 52 - CONVERGENCE WEEKEND 2014
THE FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER
SAT-SUN SEPTEMBER 27-28
The 2014 New York Film Festival CONVERGENCE WEEKEND will take place on Saturday, September 27 and Sunday, September 28. Now in its third year, the annual program delves into the world of transmedia with a mix of unique films, panels, and immersive experiences.
The advent of the digital age has created a new audience who are no longer passive consumers of entertainment, but active participants in their media. The traditional lines separating the arts are being blurred by innovative makers who are creating stories that span multiple platforms and include interaction with the audience.
Focusing on the intersection of technology and storytelling, NYFF Convergence offers audiences and creators the unique opportunity to experience a curated selection of some of the most exciting interactive projects being produced today. With the projects and presentations falling under three categories (Films, Panels, and Interactive Presentations), the two-day event will highlight the fact that in the digital world every member of the audience is not just an observer but an active participant in building their entertainment.
Interactive presentations this year include:
- .Theo Rigby’s Immigrant Nation, which comprises of a series of short documentary films, live events, an online Interactive Story Hub, and roving storytelling stations that enable audiences to upload and share their own personal immigrant narratives.
- Audiences can also participate in their own storytelling process by creating personal interactive videos through the The Vidzor Experience, which invites attendees to build their own interactive videos using the Vidzor platform in a “Production 101” class.
- Personal stories are spotlighted in Jake Price and Visakh Menon’s poignant Artifacts of Fukushima: Selections from Unknown Spring, which will present fragments of what was left behind and still remains of the area around Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant power plant, through a combination of video, audio, and photography—immersing viewers into stark empty cityscapes, guided by the voices of those who fled this devastating nuclear disaster.
ARTIFACTS OF FUKUSHIMA
A special presentation panel for We The Economy will serve as a kickoff to an ambitious cross-platform project launching this fall with a series of diverse short films by award-winning filmmakers to help demystify the U.S. economy. The panel includes participating directors Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) and Shola Lynch (Chisholm ’72); and Adam Davidson (NPR’s “Planet Money”), Braden King (Truckstop Media), and Carole Tomko (GM & Creative Director Vulcan Productions). We The Economy is a partnership between Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Productions and Morgan Spurlock’s Cinelan that will launch this fall with genre-crossing short films (scripted, animated, documentary) to drive awareness and a better understanding of our economic system. The films will be released on multiple platforms—online, mobile, and more. Audiences participating in this panel will get a special sneak peek at unique materials created for the project.
Media scholar and Convergence Culture author Henry Jenkins will make the Keynote Address for the 2014 NYFF Convergence.
Additional selections include:
- The North American Premiere of the interactive elements of Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting’s Last Hijack;
- a 30th Anniversary screening of Diego Echeverria’s 1984 Living Los Sures. Nearly lost, the restored, reframed, and remixed documentary is now part of a multi-platform participatory media project by Brooklyn-based UnionDocs;
- and a creator-guided tour of Futurestates, the compelling ITVS series that imagines the impact of technology on humanity in the not-so-distant future.
Convergence tickets are $10 for Film Society Members and $15 for Non-Members. A limited number of Convergence All Access Passes, which include one ticket to all programs in Convergence, will be available for just $99. Tickets for the 52nd New York Film Festival are on sale to the general public.
To learn more about the festival and purchasing options, including the VIP Pass, which offers unparalleled access to all programs throughout the festival, visit
To find out how to become a Film Society member, visit
NYFF CONVERGENCE EVENTS AND FILM DESCRIPTIONS
Artifacts of Fukushima: Selections from Unknown Spring
Jake Price & Visakh Menon, USA, 2014
March 11, 2011: An earthquake off the coast of Tohoku spawns a tsunami that would destroy swaths of the Japanese coast and initiate a nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant power plant. Nearly four years after the reactors at the Fukushima began melting down, nature has reclaimed every vestige of civilization and transformed the landscape, blurring the lines between once refined humanity and unrestrained nature. In the middle of this borderland are the survivors who cannot abandon their homes, ornate temples, and ancient Buddhist carvings from time immemorial. Artifacts of Fukushima will present fragments of what was left behind and still remains—where memory and abandonment, unrestrained nature and humanity intersect. Combining projected video, audio, and photography, Artifacts will immerse viewers in the cityscapes of the abandoned towns, guided by the voices of those who fled their homes but can never leave in their hearts.
Creators on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
The tools to write, shoot, edit, and distribute films and interactive content are widely available to anyone with a story and the will to see it realized. Crowdfunding and crowdsourcing add even more powerful resources to the budding creative’s personal arsenal. While wearing many hats has long been a hallmark of independent filmmaking, contemporary makers must balance art and business to become more than the writer-director-producers of yesterday. This is the age of the hyper-hyphenate, in which creative professionals juggle vast social networks, new technologies, and creative ambition in order to bring their stories to life. Our panel of storytellers will touch on their own successes and failures navigating our wired, content-rich world—and hopefully remind us all what really matters in the end: telling a killer story.
David Dufresne, Canada, 2013
Ft. McMurray a small town like many others in central Canada… at least it used to be before the discovery of the vast (and vastly profitable) oil sands. Thrust into the center of the world’s largest energy project, Ft. McMurray has experienced tremendous economic growth that brings with it a wealth of challenges for city leaders and an ever-growing population hoping to cash in on the boom. Ft. McMoney is an online documentary and game that entrenches its audience within this community, allowing a viewer/player to meet and interact with a cast of larger-than-life characters struggling with a host of social, cultural, and environmental concerns. Director David Dufresne (Prison Valley) will lead audiences through this immersive experience and offer insight into the process of creating this engaging online world.
Produced by ITVS, USA, 2014, 90m
What will America look like in 10, 15, even 20 years? Futurestates, the revolutionary series produced by ITVS, has been proposing answers to these questions since 2010. For its fifth and final season, Futurestates is presented as an immersive online video experience featuring short films that imagine robots with feelings, what education looks like in a wired world, and the future of prisons and our penal system. The central question at the heart of Futurestates is how technologies we may take for granted have a profound effect on our capacity to feel, create, live... and be human.
(Installation and Interactive Presentation)
Theo Rigby, USA, 2014
Whether having arrived in the U.S. recently or many generations ago, the millions of immigrants and their descendants who make up our nation have something important in common: unique experiences, aspirations, and stories that deserve—and need—to be told. Immigrant Nation is a new interactive storytelling project designed to collect a vast range of immigrant narratives and experiences and share them with the world. It is comprised of a series of short documentary films, live events that engage diverse communities in telling their individual and collective stories, and an online Interactive Story Hub that enables participants to upload and share their own personal tales. Throughout the opening weekend of NYFF Convergence, iNation installations and roving storytelling stations will be available to festival attendees so they can contribute their stories. The weekend culminates with a live presentation by creator Theo Rigby about the future of the Immigrant Nation project.
Keynote: A Brief History of Transmedia Worlds
Henry Jenkins, University of Southern California
Today’s films, television series, games, comics, novels, and even documentaries and journalism rely heavily on the concepts of world-building and world-mapping. The idea of the “fictional world” took roots in and around fantasy and science fiction in the first half of the 20th century, pushed forward by writers like L. Frank Baum and J.R.R. Tolkien, but it has gained greater and greater traction as transmedia production practices seek to disperse meaningful parts of an entertainment experience across multiple delivery platforms, as production designers exert much greater influence over the creative vision behind popular fictions, and as networks of fans seek to pool knowledge via social media.
The concept of a fictional world enables certain kinds of immersive experiences, providing both authors and readers with the cognitive structures they need to deal with enormous complexity—stories with vast time scales and ensemble casts. They encourage a kind of encyclopedic relationship with what's presented on the screen, a relationship that may exist with the information being conveyed by a documentary, the nuances of historical fictions, or the sprawl of a genre franchise.
In this talk, I will provide a conceptual map for understanding what we mean by “worlds,” what roles they are playing in the production and consumption of popular media, how thinking in terms of worlds involves a shift from more traditional focuses on character and narrative, and why this concept has gained such traction in an era of networked communication and transmedia entertainment.—Henry Jenkins
Henry Jenkins is the Provost's Professor of Communication Journalism and Cinematic Arts at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. He joined USC from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was Peter de Florez Professor in the Humanities. He is Principal Investigator on the Media Activism Participatory Politics project. His most recent books include Reading in a Participatory Culture: Remixing Moby-Dick in the Literature Classroom (with Wyn Kelley, Katie Clinton, Jenna McWilliams, Ricardo Pitts-Wiley, and Erin Reilly) and Spreadable Media: Creating Meaning and Value in a Networked Society (with Sam Ford and Joshua Green).
Tommy Pallotta & Femke Wolting, Netherlands, 2014, DCP, 83m
Mohamed is your average middle-aged man trying to make ends meet in his homeland: the failed state of Somalia. One of the country’s most experienced pirates, he is faced with constant pressure—from his fiancée, family, and friends—to get out of his dangerous profession. Sensing the end of an era, Mohamed must decide if he should risk everything and do one last hijack. As he wrestles with these very real problems, a dramatic tale of survival unfolds. Last Hijack is both a feature-length film, combining documentary footage and animation, and an online transmedia experience, allowing viewers a unique and original way to explore the story of Somali piracy from different perspectives.
Tommy Pallotta & Femke Wolting, Netherlands, 2014
With their feature documentary Last Hijack, Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting introduced audiences to Mohamed, an accomplished pirate considering a career change. Where that film ends, Last Hijack’s transmedia experience begins. Join Pallotta and Wolting as they explore the immersive components of their interactive project, offering a bird’s-eye view of the online elements of their doc that investigates modern-day piracy. Using data visualization, animation, live footage, and audio, the online experience paints a picture not of perpetrators of crimes and victims but of real people whose actions have an effect on the world around them. North American Premiere
Diego Echeverria, USA, 1984, 16mm, 66m
Diego Echeverria’s Los Sures skillfully represents the challenges of its time: drugs, gang violence, crime, abandoned real estate, racial tension, single-parent homes, and inadequate local resources in Brooklyn’s Los Sures neighborhood. Yet Echeverria’s portrait also celebrates the vitality of this largely Puerto Rican and Dominican community, showing the strength of their culture, their creativity, and their determination to overcome a desperate situation. Nearly lost, this 16mm film has been restored, reframed, and remixed by Southside-based UnionDocs just in time for the 30th anniversary of its premiere at the New York Film Festival.
Living Los Sures
Produced by UnionDocs, USA, 2014
Using Escheverria’s 1984 documentary Los Sures as a starting point, UnionDocs has created Living Los Sures, a massive mixed-media project that defies easy categorization. Composed over the course of four years and pulling on the talents of over 30 different artists, Living Los Sures paints a picture of a neighborhood from street level, an ever-evolving mosaic of people and places captured through film, audio, and now an online participatory experience. With the premiere of two new elements—Eighty-Nine Steps, a continuation of the story of one of the original characters from Los Sures, and Shot by Shot—that invite people to share their personal stories inspired by the shots and locations of the original film, the UnionDocs team will take audiences through the process of building this unique documentary storyworld.
Loves of a Cyclops
(Screening and Interactive Presentation)
Nathan Punwar, USA, 2013, DCP, 25m
Loves of a Cyclops is the sprawling life story of Francis, a modern-day one-eyed man, as he struggles to see the world the same way as everyone else. Taken under the wing of Bill Vernon, a scientist who hopes the cyclops will prove his theories of seeing beyond multiple dimensions, Francis also finds a kindred lost soul in Lina Rae Pearson, a young woman who was once the most prolific narrator of books on tape. Together, the trio try to make sense of Francis’s strange vision, as he careens from one group of people to another, in search of someone who will understand his perspective. Francis’s story extends far beyond the short film, unfolding through a series of archival documents—artifacts, oddities, and abandoned films—and the audience will experience these elements firsthand with a guided tour from director/creator Nathan Punwar following the screening.
Movies You Play: The Future of Interactive Cinema
Participants: Adam Cassels (Audience Entertainment), Christian Nielsen (Vidzor). Moderator: Jennifer Begeal (JLB Hart Media).
An audience settles into a theater to take in the latest blockbuster. A family gathers in their living room to watch a movie. A traveler loses herself in her favorite show in an airport lounge. Despite the different places we can watch films, the experience remains relatively unchanged: we tune in, we sit back, and stories are told to us. This all may be about to change. Interactive music videos, in-theater immersive experiences, and virtual-reality systems present audiences with experiences that ask them to play an active part in telling the stories they consume. Are we approaching a time when filmmaking and game design will collide to create something new? Our panel of creators, filmmakers, and technologists will take a look at the state of this nascent art and explore what it could mean for filmmakers and audiences.
The ‘New’ New Wave: Indie Games and Indie Film
One need only look at the record-breaking sales of Grand Theft Auto V or the devoted fandom swirling around Bethesda’s “Fallout” and “Elder Scrolls” franchises to see proof that video games have gone mainstream like never before. Yet for all the attention these major releases receive, we are witnessing an equally impressive new wave of independent game titles. These games combine incredible design and compelling storytelling to bring new life to the form. Could we be living in an era that will see the roll out of games that will do what Easy Rider or Reservoir Dogs did to the film industry? Our panel of designers, developers, and critics will discuss the state of the art and explore some of the parallels between the two worlds of film and games.
The Vidzor Experience
Within the last five years, a host of Internet-based technologies have enabled an explosion of interactive video experiences. From choose-your-own adventure feature films to immersive music videos, artists and brands are creating engaging content that empowers audiences to step into the story. Convergence invites NYFF attendees to explore the possibilities by building their own interactive videos using the Vidzor platform, participating in a series of short workshops, and hearing about the future of interactive cinema from some of the top minds in film, technology, and art. A primer workshop will help participants explore the core concepts of what interactive video actually is, and will screen examples of interactive shorts created by Vidzor. They will then get to take a “Production 101” class, in which members of the Vidzor Team will give them hands-on help to create their own short interactive videos.
We The Economy
Participants: Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), Adam Davidson (NPR’s “Planet Money”), Shola Lynch (Chisholm ’72), Braden King (Truckstop Media), and Carole Tomko (GM & Creative Director, Vulcan Productions). Moderator: Neil Irwin (Senior Economic Correspondent, The New York Times).
Our lives—arguably the lives of every person on the planet—are governed by the ebbs and flows of the U.S. economic system. For many, the concept of the economy is just as abstract as time; it is something that we know affects us daily yet we can’t begin to describe why or how. Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Productions and Morgan Spurlock’s Cinelan have partnered to produce the short-film series We The Economy to further promote awareness of the vital role that we the people play in driving these complex systems. Featuring genre-crossing shorts (scripted, animated, and documentary, five to eight minutes in length) by award-winning filmmakers; an online, mobile, and offline experience; and support from top economic experts, We The Economy aims to shine a light on how our individual decisions play a critical role in the state of our local and global financial stability. Be among the first to experience this ambitious cross-platform project at a presentation featuring filmmakers, economists, and the creators of the mobile and online elements.
Women’s Impact: Producing in a Convergent World (Panel)
Presented in partnership with The Producers Guild of America New Media Council & The Producers Guild of America Women’s Impact Network (PGA WIN)
As the entertainment industry shifts from linear models of broadcast to interactive, multiplatform paradigms, there is one metric that seems to move at a snails pace: employment and empowerment of women. The case for diversity in production has been made, and while studios, networks, and publishing houses struggle to increase the number of women in decision-making positions many female producers are creating opportunities for themselves. This year, the Producers Guild of America launched the Women’s Impact Network as a portal for organizations and programs for women in media to collaborate and work toward a more equitable industry. PGA members from film, games, and interactive will share their work initiatives and ask: What are the barriers to establishing a better environment for female creators? What are the new opportunities on the horizon for women entering the media workplace? And, most vitally, these speakers will share stories about their work and experiences as producers, regardless of gender.
For more information, visit www.filmlinc.com and follow @filmlinc on Twitter.
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