Fest Forward receives grant from Visit Mississippi

The Oxford Film Festival announced today that its new Fest Forward section, set to debut in 2017, has received a $10,000 grant from the Mississippi Development Authority. The Fest Forward section, which includes a virtual reality exhibition and educational programming for youth, will allow the Oxford Film Festival to shine a spotlight on emerging technologies, where some of the most interesting evolutions in cinematic storytelling are taking place.

In addition to an exhibition of virtual reality (VR) and 360 video experiences and slate of films programmed with a younger audience in mind, this year’s Fest Forward program will offer hands-on workshops that will offer younger festival participants opportunities to learn about, experience, and explore film and VR/360 content.

“Fest Forward isn’t just about wow-ing the Oxford audience with the magic of virtual reality, it’s about bringing Oxford a curated selection of the best in current VR and 360, the same content that audiences at bigger fests like Sundance and Tribeca and SXSW have access to,” said Kim Voynar, Head Programmer of New Media. “When you put someone in a really good virtual reality experience for the first time, it’s like the world suddenly goes from black and white to Technicolor, and there is no substitute for putting on a headset and experiencing it for yourself. So a big part of the Fest Forward program is about putting gear in kids’ hands and showing them they have the power to tell stories too.”

Melanie Addington, the executive director of Oxford Film Festival, added, “This is the evolving space where the future of entertainment, the merging of cinema and gaming, is heading, and it’s imperative that kids who are growing up in Mississippi have access to and awareness of these technologies, as their peers in tech-centric cities like LA and Seattle do. We are so grateful for this grant from Mississippi Development Authority as it will allow us to further expand our new Fest Forward program in a dynamic and substantial way”.

Programming for the Fest Forward section will be announced with the rest of the 2017 Oxford Film Festival slate in December. The Oxford Film Festival programming team is currently reviewing submissions and will be accepting entries for Fest Forward through November 15, 2017.