"Samsara Ep. 1," a virtual reality film by Taiwanese New Media artist Huang Hsin-chien (黃心健) has been named the winner of the Best VR Story award of the Cannes XR program, beating out 16 other titles selected worldwide.
After winning the biggest prize of the virtual cinema competition at the 2021 South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival in March, this time, the film has once again garnered international recognition.
Supported by the Taiwan Creative Content Agency (TAICCA), this award-winning work utilizes the 4DViews technology of the virtual studio IP Lab to present Taiwan's rich local elements featuring Paiwan culture, a Taiwanese indigenous ethnic group, and the endemic species such as the Formosan black bear and the Taiwan blue magpie.
The work also adds a virtual arm that allows the audience to control by themselves, presenting a different interactive experience.
The film tells the story of reincarnation, centering on lives after a catastrophic nuclear war. People flee the earth after destroying the natural environment and spent centuries voyaging in space, in search of a home. The plot features diverse issues such as ecology, technology, resource allocation, and war, to name a few.
To adapt to a new environment, the people rewrite their DNA and evolve into new beings. Eventually, they realize that they will never find another planet to settle and can only return to the earth they damaged in a different era, as a different life form, in an endless circle of "reincarnation" (輪迴, the film's Chinese title).
Through the film, it places viewers into an "embodied cognition" experience, transforming them into various beings and environments. Huang hopes that this film would trigger viewers to reflect on the philosophy of life and humanity.
Huang has announced that the film will start its series of global film festival tour in September and will premiere in Kaohsiung in October.
The Cannes Film Festival is one of the most prestigious European film festival in the world. The unit Cannes XR Virtual is a 3-day online and virtual event dedicated to immersive entertainment. In response to the pandemic, this year’s Cannes XR unit and VR online content platform Veer have joined hands to conduct exhibitions at the virtual venue MOR (Museum of Other Realities) to provide a virtual reality experience through works to the public.