Shari Frilot, Senior Programmer to Sundance Film Festival and curator of the New Frontier section, opens up about Transmedia and how the future of entertainment boils down to the convergence of storytelling and innovative technology.
Tell us about New Frontier
The New Frontier section at the Sundance Film Festival is not new. We’ve been highlighting work that pushes boundaries through feature films and installations for the last 6 years.
New Frontier celebrates the convergence of film, art, and new media technologies as a hotbed for cinematic innovation. New Frontier presents media installations, multimedia performances, transmedia experiences, panel discussions, feature films, and more.
What is your role as curator for the section?
While my job entails the conceptualization of the exhibit and the selection of all the works to be featured in the venue, the goal as curator is to present the year’s crop of new media, transmedia and experiential video art.
As a curator, what are you looking for in a project?
First and foremost I’m looking for storyworlds. But I’m also interested in showcasing diversity of artists, content and form.
In addition, I’m invested in work that uses digital culture to bring human beings together, and expands interactive engagement beyond the traditional boundaries of dialogue and discussion.
In terms of space, it’s usually about experimentation. However, I’m committed to build a venue that operates on a social and interactive platform that allows for audiences to explore the digital space as it interacts with cinema.
Any interest in bringing official tech partners to collaborate in the exhibit?
Until this point all technological partnerships have come to the table via the artists, which vary from case to case. What is exciting is that new technologies emerge every single day, and the democratization of hardware and software has truly hit a chord and changed the landscape for creators.
Tell us about the New Frontier Story Labs
The labs were inspired by the showcase at the festival, and were primarily conceived to provide creative storytelling support to artists working in the emerging fields of multi-layered and multi-formed narratives.
The program is designed to not only offer interdisciplinary support to artists working at the convergence of film, art, and new media technologies but also assist artists who are developing interactive, immersive, or participatory projects that aim to create rich and resonant experiences for audiences.
What kind of projects are you looking into for the Labs?
In essence we are looking for projects that speak to the times. We want new subject matter, new perspectives, new ways to use technology to enhance content. We are looking for innovation, freshness, engagement.
Where do you think the film centric community of the festival stands when it comes to Transmedia? Is the subject matter still intimidating, or is it more approachable now?
I think that, within the context of the festival, people are curious and excited when they see what is happening in the general landscape. They instinctively sense that this is the future of entertainment, and want to learn more. There is definitely less fear now, maybe because of a slow shift in perspectives that now looks at Transmedia as more of an opportunity than an obligation.
Before there was too much pressure to define where Transmedia fit in. Was it music, was it games, was it advertising? But now it’s becoming clearer to people that Transmedia is emerging as a new art form.
The one thing that I think the movement is missing, before it can turn the corner, is the ability to go mainstream. So far the conversation has focused on what Transmedia is and how it’s manifested. For Transmedia to reach proper acknowledgement as an art form, it needs to not only appeal to the thinkers echelon, but also infiltrate popular culture.
I like to think that it’s up to us, and the critics that write in a popular way, to develop and nurture a richer, more accessible and broader culture of promotions for non-linear but matrix-like multi-platform experiences.
Jeremy Mendes and Leanne Allison
The Cloud of Unknowing
Ho Tzu Nyen
Hunger in Los Angeles
Nonny de la Peña
Eva and Franco Mattes
Question Bridge: Black Males
Hank Willis Thomas and Chris Johnson in collaboration with Bayete Ross Smith and Kamal Sinclair
Radical Games Against the Tyranny of Entertainment
To Many Men Strange Fates Are Given
Paul Abacus/Early Morning Opera/Lars Jan
Gingger Shankar/Mridu Chandra/The Shanghai Restoration Project