Contact: Melanie Bates, Film Independent
Tel: 323.556.9338 or

Ryan Collins, Ginsberg/Libby
Tel: 323 645 6800 or



LOS ANGELES (August 29, 2018) — Today the LA Film Festival, produced by Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that also produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards, announced the lineup of The Portal, the Festival’s inaugural VR and Immersive Story Telling showcase to be held at LMU’s new Playa Vista Campus. The Portal is a two-year partnership with Loyola Marymount University’s School Film and Television.

“It’s exciting, and a testament to the storytelling, that virtual reality is now attracting talent like Rosario Dawson, Brie Larson, Diego Luna, Ian McShane, Alicia Vikander and Oprah Winfrey,” said Jacqueline Lyanga, Guest Director, VR & Immersive Storytelling. “Immersive storytelling is venturing into exciting new territory with adventurous mixed reality, social interactivity, guided motion and haptics, all of which LA audiences will be able to experience for free at The Portal this fall as part of the LA Film Festival.”

“It’s fitting that, as we open the doors to our new Playa Vista campus, we also welcome Film Independent’s first-ever VR and Immersive storytelling showcase,” said Peggy Rajski, new Dean of LMU’s School of Film and Television. “Jacqueline’s thoughtful program provides audiences with ample opportunities to immerse themselves into the experiences and stories of others, including many whose voices are typically unheard. At LMU SFTV we deeply value storytelling that shines a light into the places we rarely traverse, but which enrich us when given the opportunity to do so.”

The Portal features some of the most exciting new animated, documentary and fictional narratives from virtual reality exhibitions at film festivals around the world, including Cannes, Rotterdam, Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca and Venice.

The Portal will be located at the new LMU Playa Vista Campus 12105 W. Waterfront Drive, in the heart of Silicon Beach and is free to the public.


The Portal (14)

LA Film Festival’s inaugural showcase of immersive storytelling from visionary creators working in Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR) and Virtual Reality (VR) featuring, 360, room-scale VR and interactive works and installations utilizing haptic technology that bring touch and motion to the immersive experience.

1000 Cut Journey, dirs. Courtney Cogburn and Elise Ogle, USA, LA Premiere

In this immersive virtual reality experience, in order to foster a greater understanding of the social realities of racism, you become Michael Sterling, a Black male, and encounter racism as a young child, an adolescent, and a young adult.


Age of Sail, dir. John Kahrs, USA, North American Premiere

Set on the open ocean in 1900, this animated film tells the story of William Avery (voiced by Ian McShane), an old sailor adrift and alone in the North Atlantic who finds redemption and hope in his darkest hours.


Arden’s Wake: Expanded, dir. Eugene Chung, USA, US Premiere

The animated story of young woman who lives in a post-apocalyptic world with her father in a lighthouse perched atop an endless sea. Academy Award-winner Alicia Vikander stars as the voice of Meena.


Awavena, dir.Lynette Wallworth, USA/Brazil/Australia, LA Premiere

This mixed-reality work is a tale of metamorphosis, and a collaboration between the Amazonian Yawanawa community and an artist that tells the story of a people ascending from the edge of extinction and the ascendance of their first female shaman.


BattleScar, dir. Martín Allais and Nico Casavecchia, USA/France, LA Premiere

An animated coming of age story that follows a year in the life of Lupe, played by Rosario Dawson, living in late 1970’s New York City as she discovers the Punk scene of the Bowery and the secret underworld of the Lower East Side.


Biidaaban: First Light, dir.Lisa Jackson, Canada, LA Premiere

Set in a highly realistic future Toronto reclaimed by nature, where people commute by canoe, users engage with the written text of the Wendat, Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) and Anishinaabe (Ojibway) and gain insight into the complex thought systems of this land’s first peoples.


Crow: The Legend, dir. Eric Darnell, USA, North American Premiere

This animated story of a bird with a beautiful voice is inspired by Native American legend is executive produced by John Legend, and features the voices of Sarah Eagle Heart, Diego Luna Tye Sheridan, Oprah Winfrey and Constance Wu.


Dinner Party, dir. Angel Manuel Soto, USA, LA Premiere

Dinner Party is a short virtual reality thriller that dramatizes the incredible story of Betty and Barney Hill, who in the 1960s reported the first nationally known UFO abduction case in the United States.


Geomancer, dir. Lawrence Lek, UK, North American Premiere

A computer-generated animation about the creative awakening of artificial intelligence set in Singapore 2065, that tells the story of an environmental satellite that wishes to become an artist.


Queerskins, dirs. Illya Szilak and Cyril Tsiboulski, USA, LA Premiere

A diary and a box of belongings offers a devoutly Catholic mother living in rural Missouri, USA in 1990 a second chance to know Sebastian, the estranged son she has lost to AIDS as they take a magic realist journey down a country road.


Space Explorers: A New Dawn (Ep.1) and Taking Flight (Ep. 2), dirs. Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël, Canada, USA

A cinematic VR series narrated by Brie Larson about the new age of space exploration. Witness the lives of NASA astronauts as they navigate the trials and sacrifices of their training and missions.


Terminal 3, dir. Asad J. Malik, USA, LA Premiere

An interactive, augmented-reality documentary that explores contemporary Muslim identities in the U.S. through the lens of an airport interrogation using Microsoft’s Hololens technology to interrogate the holograms of passengers.


Vestige, dir. Aaron Bradbury, USA/UK/France, LA Premiere

Journey into the mind of Lisa as she remembers her lost love, Erik, through a series of fragmented memories that become entangled with a haunting vision triggering new memories and pathways as we navigate through the story.


Zikr: A Sufi Revival, dir. Gabo Arora, USA, LA Premiere

Zikr: A Sufi Revival takes four participants on an interactive, virtual reality journey into a world of ritual, music and dance by opening up an experience to the Sufi practice of inclusion, acceptance, art, joy and understanding



Free Solo, dirs. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, USA, World Premiere

Experience Alex Honnold’s free solo climb up Yosemite’s 3,000-foot high El Capitan wall with no ropes or safety gear in 360 VR. The full-length documentary film version of Free Solo is playing in LA Film Festival’s Gala section.


Into the Now, dir. Michael Muller, USA, LA Premiere

An exploration of marine life and ocean conservation that follows director Michael Muller as he tackles his lifelong fear of sharks by learning to dive without protection and cage-free with great white sharks.


Sun Ladies, dirs. Christian Stephen and Celine Tricart, USA, LA Premiere

The story of a group of Yazidi women in Sinjar, Iraq who started a female-only fighting unit called the Sun Ladies to protect the honor and dignity of their people. This documentary features animation created by artist Wesley Allsbrook (Dear Angelica) and was produced and narrated by Maria Bello.


This Is Climate Change: Fire, dirs. Danfung Dennis and Eric Strauss, USA

In just the last three decades, changes in climate have doubled the amount of land burned by wildfires in the western United States. Follow the dedicated fighters – by air and on the ground – whose jobs have turned into year-round battles against these catastrophic blazes.


Panels at The Portal (3)

The showcase will also feature panels about Women’s Voices in VR, Animation and immersive Documentary on Saturday September 22 and Sunday September 23. The full panel schedule and free tickets are available online.

Saturday, September 22 – 2:00 pm, Women’s Voices in VR
Saturday, September 22 – 4:30 pm, Animation in VR
Sunday, September 23 – 2:00 pm, Social Immersive Documentary VR

Free tickets are available online at for 90 minute time slots on both Saturday, September 22 and Sunday, September 23. LA Film Festival pass holders do not need a ticket to attend, and no RSVP is required for pass holders. There will be a pass holder check-in desk at the venue.

Passes are on sale now; only Film Independent Members get early access and save up to 25%. General admission tickets are also on sale now to the general public. Contact the Festival Box Office for passes, tickets and event information by calling 866.FILM.FEST (866.345.6337) or visit

Venues for the 2018 Festival include the ArcLight Cinemas in Culver City, Hollywood and Santa Monica, as well as the new LMU Playa Vista Campus (opening this fall), the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, the Writers Guild Theater and the Ford Theatres.



Press materials can be found at


Online & Social Media

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The LA Film Festival is a key part of the exhibition arm of the nonprofit arts organization Film Independent. Showcasing new American and international cinema that embraces diversity, innovation and unique perspectives, the Festival produces one-of-a-kind events featuring critically acclaimed filmmakers, industry professionals and award-winning talent from Los Angeles and around the world. Presenting Media Sponsor is Los Angeles Times. Official Host Venue is ArcLight Cinemas. Platinum Sponsors are American Airlines, EFILM | Deluxe and HBO. The University Sponsor is Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television. Venue Partner is Wallis Annenberg Theater for Performing Arts. Festival Supporters are Directors Guild of America, eTech Rentals, Kona Productions, TREETI and Visit Seattle. Festival Affiliates are 21st Century Fox Global Inclusion, ATK Audiotek, Konsonant Music, SAGindie and Writers Guild of America West. Additional support provided by National Endowment for the Arts. Stella Artois is the Official Beer. IMDbPro is the Official Industry Resource. CITI is the Official Credit Card. The LINE, NoMad Los Angeles and Freehand LA are the Official Hotel Partner. Essentia Water is the Official Water. Hillersden Estate Wines is the Official Wine. Getty Images is the Official Photographer.

For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Albina Oks, Director of Corporate Sponsorship, at or 323.556.9352.