The Tribeca Film Festival is postponed, but you can watch its VR movies for free this week

Technology

The 2020 Tribeca Film Festival was postponed because of the novel coronavirus, but you can watch its virtual reality films on the Oculus TV app from now until April 26th. The Cinema360 program includes 15 VR films organized into four programs, each of them 30 to 40 minutes long. Oculus TV is available on the Oculus Quest and Go headsets, although, unfortunately, not the Rift.

You can find the full Cinema360 program here, loosely grouped by theme. The “Dreams to Remember” program showcases dreamily atmospheric projects, including 1st Step, a 15-minute “fairy tale” rendition of the Apollo missions, and Dear Lizzy, a short piece co-produced by longtime VR filmmaker Chris Milk. “Kinfolk” includes narratives about home and family, like The Inhabited House, which uses old home movies and modern 360-degree footage to resurrect the filmmaker’s grandparents. “Pure Imagination” includes projects like Lutaw, an animated short about a young girl in the Philippines. And “Seventeen Plus” is full of weird pieces meant for an older audience — there’s A Safe Guide to Dying, about a man who experiments with suicide in VR, as well as Saturnism, an adaptation of the famous Goya painting “Saturn Devouring His Son.”

VR movies are less accessible than traditional film since they’re generally limited to people with headsets. (In this case, the audience is even smaller since it’s Oculus-only.) But once you’re inside a headset, you’re actually getting something very close to the festival experience — unlike a film, where you’re missing out on a communal big-screen experience. While a lot of festival films later show up on VR platforms, getting them all in a curated experience is pretty rare and well worth checking out.

The more interactive Virtual Arcade unfortunately isn’t coming to home headsets yet — which makes sense since this section tends toward elaborate installation-based work that’s sometimes built for groups. However, Oculus is releasing one of Tribeca 2019’s best projects: you can check out The Key, a surreal and evocative animated story, as an Oculus Rift and Quest app today.

Tribeca is one of many events that’s either postponed or canceled due to the pandemic, and that’s led filmmakers and organizers to look for new ways to showcase their films. The Tribeca Film Institute is also sharing a traditional short film every day on its site.