Sundance’s NEXT FEST Brings Renegade Talent and Virtual Reality to L.A.


There are few things more characteristic of summer in L.A. than outdoor cinema. This Sunday, August 2, Hollywood Forever Cemetery together with Cinespia will kick off Sundance’s third annual NEXT FEST with an al fresco screening of Cop Car, starring Kevin Bacon. While the rest of the fest will be indoors, it won’t be any less awesome: Five more films (Mistress America, Finders Keepers, Entertainment, Cronies, and Turbo Kid) will have their Los Angeles premiere at the Theater at the Ace Hotel downtown August 7-9. Each of the films showing at the Ace will be paired with a musical guest and will feature extended Q&As with filmmakers and talent. “Los Angeles is home to a huge audience of people on the cutting edge of what’s new and next in film and music,” says Sundance Film Festival Director John Cooper. “Our NEXT FEST was born as an experiment to showcase this and offer L.A. audiences a slice of Sundance in the summer.”

The event’s name is derived from Sundance’s NEXT program, which spotlights stylistically adventurous films made with bold talent (and on micro-budgets). The section, which debuted at the Park City festival five years ago, was partially responsible for the critical success of movies like Obvious Child, Compliance, Appropriate Behavior, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, and Escape from Tomorrow. The films chosen for NEXT FEST represent the “renegade spirit of independent artists.”

This year’s festivities will also include the chance to experience Birdly, a virtual reality flight simulator that debuted in January as part of Sundance’s New Frontier section. Outfitted with special eyewear, the VR fools viewers into thinking they’re soaring over the rooftops of San Francisco. Now is your chance to check out a technology that is stirring up buzz—scripted VR entertainment is already in the works over at L.A.-based company Oculus Rift’s Story Studio with their animated short Henry. Add to that Nokia’s OZO camera and new media advertising companies like Tongal, and you can be sure that home and theater entertainment is about to get a major upgrade.

If you're a birdly, I'm a birdly.
If you’re a Birdly, I’m a Birdly.

Photograph courtesy

“There’s so much excitement with virtual reality,” Cooper adds. “I think people are starting to understand how it could completely revolutionize how we interact with storytelling. Birdly is fun and crazy and scary and amazing. You really step into another world and get a taste of what it’s like to fly—you feel it through your whole body.” Birdly will be open to all ticket holders and will be hosted on the mezzanine level of the theater with creator Max Rheiner on site.

Want to get in on the action? We’re giving away two pairs of tickets: One pair for the Sunday, August 2 showing of Cop Car at Hollywood Forever, and one pair to the Saturday, August 8 showing of Entertainment at the Theater at the Ace Hotel. Enter below for your chance to win.

Sundance NEXT FEST Giveaway