Inception & Kaleidoscope Online VR Film Festival Winners Announced

First prize awarded to ‘Your Spiritual Temple Sucks,’ directed by John Hsu

Second prize awarded to ‘Aquaphobia,’ created by Jakob Kudsk Steensen


June 14, 2018 – New York, NY & San Francisco, CA – Inception and Kaleidoscope have announced the winners of the first ever Online VR Film Festival. The four winners and 24 shortlisted films, named in total below, were selected by a panel of judges for their creativity, their use of VR techniques, the quality of their films, and their storytelling capabilities.

“We’re always trying to push the boundaries and creativity of content in the VR space,” said Benny Arbel, Inception CEO. “We believe that working with the top creators from around the world is one of the best ways to do this, and the Festival has truly brought together some of the best talents in VR today. We’re proud to have instituted this Festival, and hope to continue it for years to come.”

“Our goal for the online festival was to shine a light on creators with new experiences, telling stories in interesting ways,” said Jill Basmajian, Head of Production at Kaleidoscope. “The creators who were awarded cash definitely deserve it and we hope they keep pushing VR forward!”


2018 Online Film Festival Winners:

First Prize: Your Spiritual Temple Sucks (Director: John Hsu, Producer: Serendipity Films, Co-producers: Funique VR Studio) – Mr. Chang arrives to his “Spiritual Temple,” a place that represents one’s destiny. To solve his marital crisis and financial problems, he summons his guardian – The Thunder God. They attempt to tidy his life, which turns out to be a big mistake… with hilarious consequences.

What the judges said: This VR piece does an excellent job of combining different mediums, with animation and live-action footage complementing each other. The use of VR as a storytelling method works really well here and uses new ideas and concepts to move the story forward and bring the viewer in. Overall, it’s a funny, thoughtful, and well created piece – well deserving the first place award.

What the winners said: We are extremely honored to be winning an award from Inception & Kaleidoscope Online VR Film Festival. Coming from a feature film background, working on VR is a great stimulation of creativity and it brings people from different backgrounds together without the restriction of borders, to speak a mutual language. We look forward to continue this exploration. I would like to thank my talented director John Hsu, our amazing tech team at Funique VR, and Kaohsiung Film Archive for kickstarting our project, and to the rest of the whole team and partners thank you all for supporting us along the road. – Estela Valdivieso Chen, CEO & Founder at Serendipity Films


Second Prize: Aquaphobia (Director & Producer: Jakob Kudsk Steensen) – Aquaphobia uses VR to connect inner psychological landscapes with exterior eco-systems. The work is inspired by psychological studies of the treatment of aqua phobia – fear of water- as an entry point to transform perceptions of our relationship to future water levels and climates.

What the judges said: Aquaphobia’s room scale version combines beautiful live-action footage with impressive CGI to create a realistic environment in which the piece unfolds. The different perspectives that the piece includes enhance the narrative, and this truly feels like a ‘born for VR’ piece. The audio is also well conceived and implemented, adding its own new level to the story.


Honorable Mention: Bananza! (Creators & animators: Teyosh Studio) – Bananza! is a VR ride that explores growing up in a digital age. The symbols of a digital culture are incorporated subliminally, through bananas, a favorite fruit for both kids and grownups.

What the judges said: Bananza! is truly an excellent example of animation in VR. This piece is amusing, and yet also succeeds in drawing the viewer in to the experience in a way that other pieces may have failed. The level of CGI is something that we rarely see in VR at the moment, and the movement and audio all combine together to create this wonderfully entertaining experience.


Honorable Mention: The Joy Of Frogs (Creators: The Guardian Media Group, Director: Shehani Fernando) – Every spring, ponds around the UK start stirring and frogs come out of their winter slumber to mate. Join them in the pond for a unique perspective on an event that’s been happening since the age of the dinosaurs.

What the judges said: The Joy of Frogs brings the VR documentary to a new level, utilizing the VR methodology to truly add to the story. The camera positioning brings the viewer into the pond, with close ups of the frogs working incredibly well in a way that we have rarely seen so far in VR. The use of humor and the lightness of the voiceover make this a joy to watch.

Shortlisted Films:

Chromatica (Director: Flavio Costa, Producer: Laura Catalano) – A rare disease made Sofia incapable of seeing the beauty of colors a new neighbor: Vincent, a pianist capable of making her see colors again through his music. The beauty of this cognitive journey becomes a fusion between two souls in an eternal dance.


Dreams of Blue (Director: Valentina Paggiarin) – In a near future, where technological advancement has surpassed the need for ethical behavior, two scientists decide to activate an AI bound to become a Singularity. What might happen inside the “mind” of an AI that becomes self-aware and conscious…


Ex\Static (Director: Quba Michalski) – Ex\Static combines elements of theatrical stage design, light art, installation, and Quba Michalski’s unique vision for VR spaces, taking the viewer on a surreal journey through thoughts on art, society, culture and technology.


G. (Director: Adrian Regnier Chávez) – G. illustrates a phantasmagoria of images and words, of never-ending cycles -the ebbing tides of change and consequence-: “Taking a thinker and turning into a fighter, taking a fighter into a ghost.


“God Is One” (Director: Michael Wall) – A travel story from Calcutta. Big cultural differences meet the Swedes Michael Wall and Tina Nordlöf during the three days they were in Calcutta.


Gray (Director: Justus Becker) – In a vast forest an unthinkable creature emerges – leaving us with fascination and horror as we try to wrap our head around what we see. Just when it comes close enough we realise it is neither friend nor enemy, we encounter…


Haunt (Director: Lillian Mehrel) – A short virtual reality film about presence, experienced through the eyes of a ghost. When she was alive, she never felt present. Now she floats invisibly where she used to be, dwelling in her memories and wishing she was there.


The Hourglass (Director: Matthieu Lienart, Producer: Tim David) – Vincent and Cathy stole a briefcase from a businessman. What’s inside is beyond everything they can imagine: a time-travel hourglass. Chasing the thieves, the mysterious businessman will try to get his briefcase back, through night and time.


Intersection (Creators: Observatory, Producer: Tom Bowers) – A visual discovery if transpirational means using distinctive lines and imagery to immerse the user into a space age, industrial environment.


Invisible (Director: Lillian Mehrel) – A short virtual reality film about the different ways three characters – a museum guard, an artist and new mom, and a trans-girl – feel invisible, or seen.


In Your Eyes (Director: Pierre Friquet, Producer: Thibault Bourgeais) – A VR music video for Maud Geffray’s “In Your Eyes” (feat. Flavien Berger)


Keyed Alike (Director: Chloe Thomas, Producers: Cats Are Not Peas) – Two very different women meet by chance and argue about love; one is desperate to move on (Natacha Karam, NBC The Brave) and the other is stuck in the past unwilling to let go (Gemma Whelan, HBO Game of Thrones). Keyed Alike is the first LGBTQ 360 drama starring & produced by a stellar group of women in the UK.


L. (Director: Adrian Regnier Chávez) – L. is the story of L.U.C.I.A., a 1 Teraton nuclear star-bomb traveling through space in hopes of finding life. This eon-lasting journey will meet her with uncanny visitors and a distant planet: she will now know what it means to call a place ‘home’.


Lifeline (Director: Victor Michelot) – Lifeline tells the story of the frozen moment when you fall in love.
There’s no past, no present, nor future but one unique sphere out of space and time within which feelings, memories and desires are mingled.


NAGA 360 (Director: Mike Strauss) – NAGA is a stunning digitally animated journey into 3D fractal geometry. This VR music video was created by Michael Strauss and features the music of internationally acclaimed recording artist and electronic music producer David Starfire.


Night Fall (Directors: Jip Samhoud, Marijn Korver, Producers: Maartje Brünken) – In Night Fall, world’s first ballet especially created for virtual reality, the viewer feels like part of the corps de ballet, entering a world where the boundary between dream and reality seems to vanish. The choreography is inspired by the world-famous ‘white acts’ from Romantic ballets like Swan Lake, La Bayadère and Les Sylphides.


Oh Deer! (Director: Peter Pontikis, Producers: Borderline Films and Redstone Studios) – It’s getting dark, a deer is bleeding, the hunters are closing in all around: OH DEER! A stereoscopic Virtual Reality-film and art installation in one piece, where the spectator takes the point of view of a wounded deer during a deer hunt.


Out of Body (Director: Maxim Nikonov) – A feature movie, filmed in virtual reality format by the Peterburg film studio LenVR in 2017. The first Russian VR horror lasting 13 minutes about life after death. Experimental format. The film-participant of the special program Russian VR seasons in Cannes 2018.


Portal (Creators: Futura VR Studio, Producer: Adrian Rw) – In this atmospheric take on a seance with a powerful psychic – the viewer is unexpectedly taken on a fearful encounter with the dead when a portal opens and spirits emerge. Given an extra touch of haptic interactivity through the use of real world props.


Racing For Pinks (Director: Brigantine Films) – A cocky motorcyclist challenges a nebbish hipster to a race through the streets of Los Angeles in this VR comedy. Lanes will be split. Engines will be revved too hard. Dogs will be played fetch with? And only one man can claim victory.


Rishikesh – Yoga Capital of the World (Director: Elysian Studio) – It is a VR experience which takes you to Rishikesh in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. It makes you understand that Yoga is the science and technology to know the essential nature of how this life is taken to its ultimate possibility.


Straight Jacket VR (Studio: Pioneer VR, Producer: Christopher Fonte) – A short film demonstrating an idea of putting people into a straight jacket and a VR headset. We feel that the immobility creates a certain fear. An inescapable fear. A journey through various scenes of terror. Can you survive?


This Is Progress VR (Director: Peter Collis, Jessica Driscoll) – UK indie promoters are staging sell-out shows. ‘This is Progress VR’ takes us inside & ringside at London’s Electric Ballroom to see the rough, raw, brutal and beautiful world of ‘Indie Punk Wrestling’. Warning: the action is not confined to the ring.


Unraveled – The Future of Music with Virtual Reality and 360 Media (Director: Yao Wang) – Unraveled is an immersive 360 audio and visual experience where the listener finds themselves at the center of all elements, being surrounded by choir, strings, synths and imagery.