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The Choice at Vancouver International Film Festival

We are very excited to let you know that we were recently in Vancouver - as a part of a pitching event organized by Kaleidoscope Fund and VIFF festival, The VIFF Immersed Co-Production Market.

As you can read on the event’s website: “The VIFF Immersed Co-Production Market is a one-day summit that connects Canada’s foremost XR creators and industry leaders with their international counterparts in order to co-produce and co-finance the next wave of great XR projects.” It’s an official program of the Vancouver International Film Festival, and the goal was to bring together a mix of XR creators, studios, distributors, curators, and funding institutions from across Canada and around the world.

We came to Vancouver a bit earlier and decided to stay longer - as we were already in touch with some people, and we wanted to use this opportunity to schedule some meetings.

On our first day there we took part in some very important event - March for Climate. We were pretty worried that we would miss the one in Toronto, and we realized that it is happening everywhere, so we joined a couple of friends.

The pitching event took part on Sunday, September 29th and it gathered XR creators working on all sorts of experiences - either social impact documentaries, like ours, but with different creative approach and of course the whole variety of subjects (like Wa’Omoni Rising presented by Ngardy Conteh George), artful and poetic experiences like Wallada by Nathalie Mathe, or interesting take on comic books - such as Earth 1170A by Edward Madojemu, where you experience the same story through 3 different mediums, and from different point of views - using either tablet and simply reading it, taking part in VR video-style experience and jumping on board of a spaceship (if I remember correctly 😊 ) with 2 main characters, or playing a VR game as one of characters.

It was great to meet so many creators in one room, experience their creativity, and compare how widely and differently we all use VR in our art, making it sometimes very serious, sometimes very funny, using life action, animations, combination of both - truly, the possibilities are endless and it is a wonderful feeling to be a part of this great community.

Once again thank you Rene and the whole Kaleidoscope team for making it happen and for inviting us! 🙌

Speaking about huge thanks - we also want to send a very warm thank you towards our amazing hosts, Ollie Rankin and Tuba Yalcin, who made Vancouver a little bit like home for us. Thank you so much, and hopefully see you again very soon 😎

Our Vancouver home ;)

We also had some great meetings, and to mention just a few of them - finally, after many years, we were able to meet again with Maria Lantin and Alan Goldman from Emily Carr. We are in touch because of their support of The Choice, however, Tom has never had a chance to meet them - Vancouver is pretty far from Toronto. And Joanne met them years ago - actually, her first visit in Canada was to take part in 3D Society event (now called Advanced Imaging Society) - they were opening a chapter in Vancouver. It was great to meet in person and to have a long and great talk.

Our friend Peter Kao - also an Oculus Start developer, invited us to give a presentation about The Choice and our stereoscopic volumetric capture tech at his classes at Vancouver Film School. Thank you, Peter, it was great to talk to your students! It was one of those meetings where all the room was full of guys, and it is always a little stressful for me (Joanne) how interested they will be both in creative and tech, but also - in our subject. They came to be a truly great audience, asking many questions and showing that they find the project important. Thank you!

Also, check out his game Gadgeteer that’s just launched for the Oculus Quest.

Since the very beginning of our work, we had some good spirits helping us with approaching the reproductive rights community, spreading our message, finding people to interview. One of them is Abortion Rights Coalition Canada and its president, Joyce Arthur. We emailed, we skyped, but now we finally met in person! It was awesome! Joyce recently co-created a documentary sharing stories of women who were refused abortion and have died due to complications - “Abandoned”. We are hoping to help with bringing it for some screenings here in Toronto - let us know if you are interested and let’s make it happen!

We, of course, put the VR headset on Joyce’s head, so she could watch a demo with The Choice. It is always very rewarding to hear people’s reactions and how impactful even this short demo is, but it was truly wonderful to hear from Joyce - who works in reproductive rights advocacy every day - that she found it powerful.

Joyce Arthur, director of Abortion Rights Coalition Canada, is watching The Choice demo

Another organization that we are friends with - and so far only online, but also with some skypes and messaging ;) - is Options For Sexual Health. One of the not very well recognized challenges of abortion access in Canada - is the situation outside of big cities, and in Indigenous communities. We talked about how to include such stories in The Choice, with the clinic’s services director, Helena Palmqvist De Felice. It is very important for us as we often hear from people here in Canada that “abortion here is solved”. It is not - in general, but it is also very much not solved in rural provinces.

We also met with a fellow activist - Julia, who runs So I Had an Abortion website and project. Yet another great person, doing a fantastic job in the reproductive rights fields, and again - a wonderful meeting. Thank you, it was great!

Julie, who runs SoIHadAnAbortion, is watching our demo

This was a very fantastic trip, and we hope to be back on the west coast very soon!

- Joanne


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