Next year’s Tribeca Film Festival is going to be interesting.
Today the organization announced it will start accepting applications from virtual reality filmmakers to premiere at the main 2017 festival. In prior years, VR films were solely showcased at the festival’s “Virtual Arcade,” an event separate from the main Tribeca Film Festival screenings and not eligible for the awards ceremony.
This is a noteworthy change for the New York event (cofounded by actor Robert De Niro), but it’s not likely to result in a seismic shift for filmmakers. A spokesperson for the event tells VentureBeat that VR now “has equal footing” and will be considered alongside traditional films for the main event, but they emphasized that “film is the DNA of the festival and at the core.”
Basically: “Equal footing” does not equate to “equal billing.” Traditional film remains the star of the show.
Although plenty of filmmakers are investing in VR, the medium is not yet fully formed, and platforms like Oculus have yet to prove mass-market appeal. For now, we’re content observing VR’s evolution, and clearly so is the Tribeca Film Festival.