Festival of International Virtual & Augmented Reality Stories (FIVARS) is a media festival that showcases stories or narrative forms from around the world using immersive technology that includes virtual reality, augmented reality, projection mapping and spatialized audio.
Created and directed and curated by Keram Malicki-Sanchez and working with technical director Joseph Ellsworth, in Toronto, Canada in the summer of 2015, the FIVARS - an acronym for the Festival of International Virtual & Augmented Reality Stories - features a selection of virtual reality and augmented reality experiences that focus on narrative or a form of storytelling. The earliest recorded event was the Camp Wavelength music festival in Toronto, August 28-30th. It is considered to be Canada's first dedicated virtual or augmented reality stories festival, and was the world's first virtual reality festival dedicated completely and exclusively to narrative pieces. FIVARS is operated by Constant Change Arts & Technology Initiative (a not-for-profit) and VRTO (Virtual Reality, Toronto) - a conference and Meetup group. FIVARS then ran its first official festival September 20 and 21 at rock music venue "UG3 Live" in downtown Toronto from 11am to 7pm.
FIVARS returned with a preview pavilion at the VRTO Virtual & Augmented Reality World Conference & Expo in June 2016 and to Camp Wavelength in August of the same year.
The festival continued in 2016 for a second year, September 16–18, 11am to 7pm at MSMU Studios in downtown Toronto. The program was listed a "Public Event You Should Attend" in the syllabus for the Future Cinema program at York University. The festival featured 30 selections - each enhanced by a haptic backpack created by Subpac FIVARS Festival Explores Human Experience Through Virtual Reality, in addition to a custom 3D Audio Chamber created by David McKevy and an augmented reality art gallery by artist Daniel Leighton and presentation by Joergen Geerds of KonceptVR and Daniel Burwen of Jaunt. Jessy Blaze worked as co-producer of the event with Chrissy Aitchison working as production manager. Ellsworth moved into a tech consulting position.
In 2017, the FIVARS festival featured 35 pieces from 15 countries and was held at the House of VR in Toronto. World premieres included "Sanctuary" by Shivani Melukar, "City of Ghosts" from director Olivier Asselin and CieAR, and IN HIS PRESENCE from director Brenda Colonna and producer Philip Plough, among others.
The festival awards prizes for People's Choice in two categories: Immersive Video and Interactive Experience.
On Monday, September 22 the festival announced People's Choice awards for two categories at the Cadillac Lounge - a music venue and restaurant in Toronto.
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