An irreverent fable that imagines a civilization’s rise, fracture and fall, Pedro Harres’ “From the Main Square” took top honors at the NewImages Festival on Friday, claiming the festival’s Grand Prize, which came with €6,000 ($6,597) in prize money.
Born in Brazil and based in Berlin, Harres channeled his frustrations and heartache about his native country into a tragicomic frenzy, orchestrating a 360-degree symphony of animated antics, human folly, and shocking bursts of violence that follows an allegorical country as it speed-runs toward oblivion.
The filmmaker described the project as “a collage of urban absurdities, sometimes funny, sometimes brutal, that arise in societies in the process of political polarization and environmental collapse.”
Produced at the Film University Babelsberg, the interactive animated project also won the Grand Jury Prize at last year’s Venice Immersive, and collected additional honors at additional festivals in Jeddah, Thessaloniki, Montreal and Kaohsiung, among others.
This year’s NewImages jury included XR journalist Kent Bye, European Creators’ Lab head Astrid Kahmke, French musician Rob Coudert, and Tumo CEO Marie Lou Papazian, while students at the Tumo Center for Creative Technologies school created the trophies themselves.
Other awards — which both came with $3,300 — included the Interactivity Prize for German Heller’s playful and inventive game “Eggscape,” and the Impact Prize for Miri Chekhanovich and Edith Jorisch post-humanist “Plastisapiens.” A darkly etched dive into Taiwanese political repression, Singing Chen’s “The Man Who Couldn’t Leave” received a special mention for its special cinematographic distinction.
On the industry front, the inclusive, all-ages project “Eddie and I” won the XR Development Market Prize. Produced by Yuval Kella, alongside lead artists Maya Shekel, Nitay Dagan, Jonathan Schwimmer, Dan Pollak, Avner Geller and Kiril Roksley, the winning title allows users to see through the eyes of a forest ogre who must use sign-language to help a hearing-impaired boy conquer his fears.
At the Friday ceremony, the festival also announced laureates of three residencies.
Organized in partnership with the Alliance Française de Quito and the Universidad de Las Americas, this year’s Quito – UDLA Immersive Residency will be held by “Othernesses/Bot Phone” creator Rocio Berenguer, while artist Jérémy Griffaud will develop his project “The Origin of Things – The Garden” at the Farnese – Medici XR Residency in Rome. Finally, the Garage Stories residency went to “Nelly the Narwhal” creators Michael Turkington, Ester Dek and Pauline Blanchet.
This year’s NewImages will run from April 5-9.
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