Laika, a virtual reality animation project from Oscar-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia, is among the 18 projects participating in the BFI London Film Festival’s new immersive art and XR lineup.
The programme, which launched last year and is called LFF Expanded, will run for the length of the festival from October 6-17. It is presented in partnership with the National Theatre and its Immersive Storytelling Studio.
Adapted from Nick Abadzis’ 2007 graphic novel of the same name, Laika tells the story of the unwanted stray dog from Moscow who became the first living creature sent by humans into space, and the most famous dog in the world. It is produced by independent UK studio Passion Pictures.
Londoner Kapadia will present his work in-person at the festival next month.
It is one of six of the 18 projects to have its world premiere at LFF Expanded, alongside UK XR work Adult Children from lead artists Ella Hickson and Sacha Wares. Set during the Covid-19 lockdown and staged in a scanned replica of the auditorium of London’s Donmar Warehouse, Adult Children considers the way in which our actions are connected even when we are apart.
Three of the projects were co-commissioned by the BFI London Film Festival: Laika, Sacha Wares and John Ping’s Museum of Austerity, and Alexander Whitley’s Future Rites.
The 18 projects hail from 13 different countries, with eight of them having at least one woman as a lead artist, and six of them having a lead artist who is ethnically diverse.
It will be available at four physical spaces in London – LFF Expanded @ 26 Leake Street, BFI Southbank, Ballet Rambert and LFF Expanded at the National Theatre. It will also be accesible online to audiences in the UK and internationally via virtual exhibition space The Expanse, which will feature seven 360-degree videos and immersive works, plus a virtual theatre.
“This new strand is not about technology; it’s about the stories these creators want to share with us,” said Ulrich Schrauth, LFF Immersive Art and XR curator.
The festival will host an opening event in-person at LFF Expanded @ 26 Leake Street.
A dedicated Immersive Art and XR award will be included in the virtual festival awards ceremony on Sunday October 17. Felix Barrett, founder and artistic director of UK theatre company Punchdrunk will act as jury president for the award, with a jury to be announced in the coming weeks.
LFF Expanded 2021 programme
A Life In Pieces: The Diary and Letters of Stanley Hayami (US) lead artists: Nonny de la Pena, Sharon Yamato – interactive VR
Adult Children (UK) lead artists: Ella Hickson, Sacha Wares (world premiere)
Atomic / Ghost in the Atom (Fin-Lat) lead artists: Felicia Honkasalo, Akuliina Niemi, Masi Tiitta (world premiere)
Captured (Fin) lead artist: Hanna Haaslahti
Container (S Afr) lead artists: Meghna Singh, Simon Wood
Eternal Return (UK-Swe) key collaborators: The Memor, ScanLAB Projects, Lundahl & Seitl
Eulogy (UK) lead artists: Darkfield (world premiere)
Fauna (Fr) lead artists: Adrien M, Claire B x Brest Brest Brest
Future Rites (UK) lead artists: Alexander Whitley Dance Company (world premiere work-in-progress)
Inhibition (UK) lead artists Zoe Diakaki, Marina Eleni Mersiadou – interactive VR (world premiere)
Laika (UK) lead artists: Asif Kapadia, Nick Abadzis (world premiere)
Liminal Lands (Fr-US) lead artist: Jakob Kudsk Steensen – interactive VR
Missing Pictures Episode 2: Tsai Ming-liang (Fr) lead artists: Clement Deneux, Kuan-Yuan Lai – interactive VR
Museum Of Austerity (UK) lead artists Sacha Wares, John Pring
Noah’s Raft (Nig) lead artists: Joel Kachi Benson, Tal Michael Haring
Only Expansion (UK) lead artist: Duncan Speakman
Samsara (Tai) lead artist: Hsin-Chien Huang – interactive VR
Virtually There (UK) lead artist: Leon Oldstrong