Innovative Filmmakers take the Film Festival Experience into the
World of Virtual Reality with “VR Movie House” Initiative; Connecting with Audiences Amid COVID-19 Imposed Global Shelter-In-Place
Independent filmmakers are known for innovatively thinking outside the box to promote their films. The team behind the gripping feature documentary “Ask No Questions” is offering audiences a chance to enjoy the theatrical experience of viewing a film — in a virtual reality cinema screening.
In what’s described as their “VR Movie House” initiative (vrmoviehouse.com), Lofty Sky Pictures announced a set ofVR screening and filmmaker Q&As for their documentary feature, “Ask No Questions”. The company will screen their 2D feature film in a 3D virtual theatrical environment and follow it with a filmmaker Q&A in the VR world — all in an effort to replicate the shared experience and filmmaker interaction that takes place at a festival.
The screenings are being supported by San Francisco’s DocFest, with proceeds going to support the nonprofit Roxie Theater during its COVID-19 shutdown. This intersection of innovation and support for the filmmaking community begins later this month on Tuesday, April 28.
A riveting investigative documentary “Ask No Questions” closely examines a startling case of misinformation and coverup in China targeting Falun Gong practitioners under the watchful eye of the Chinese government. It recently received an endorsement from Ai Weiwei, the renowned Chinese contemporary artist and activist.
With their festival run put on hold after world premiering to rave reviews at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City this January, the filmmakers looked to solutions from their other areas of business, which include video games and VR.
“VR is not a replacement for the cinema,” says “Ask No Questions” director/producer Jason Loftus. “But with the world on lockdown, it’s the closest we can get to that shared experience that makes a film festival so unique. We also wanted to support an independent theater because we believe it’s such an important platform for independent filmmakers.”
“Guided by the passionate belief that engaging with a movie doesn’t end with the credits, the Roxie is thrilled to have the opportunity to curate a conversation through Virtual Reality between filmmakers and our audiences,” said The Roxie Executive Director Lex Sloan.
In addition to film, Toronto-based Lofty Sky also produces a range of digital media including games and VR, and they’ve earned multiple Canadian Screen Award nominations for their digital products. The company will use BigscreenVR to deliver screenings beginning on the 28th and will include intimate filmmaker Q&A sessions after each screening using avatars in the virtual world.
Tickets are being sold on a choose-what-to-pay scale with all proceeds going to San Francisco’s Roxie Theater, currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We look forward to sharing “Ask No Questions” with a live audience in San Francisco once the situation improves,” said Loftus. “In the meantime, we look forward to engaging with audiences in a virtual space and providing some support to an independent cinema in its time of need.”
About “Ask No Questions”:
“Ask No Questions” tells the story of a former Chinese state TV insider who is held in a brainwashing camp and compelled to accept the official narrative on a fiery public suicide, which he believes was a government plot. The film’s themes of misinformation, propaganda, and the perils faced by whistleblowers in China are timely given the initial coverup of the coronavirus and the reprisals faced by the initial whistleblowing doctors. In March the film received an endorsement from outspoken Chinese artist-activist Ai Weiwei, who had connected with the filmmakers during their premiere in Park City in January.
“Ask No Questions dissects a dramatic event with clear arguments and reasonable analysis–it is very well done,” wrote Ai Weiwei. “Darkness must be exposed, and Ask No Questions can play a valuable role.”
“Ask No Questions” premiered in competition at the 2020 edition of Slamdance. It was selected for DocFest, the San Francisco Documentary Festival, scheduled for June, with San Francisco’s Asian film festival, CAAMFest, co-presenting. DocFest is now supporting the presentation in VR.
Tickets for the VR Screening of “Ask No Questions” can be purchased here: