Encounter New Realities

Compelling virtual reality experiences powered by Limina Immersive as part of our Immersive Encounters competition.

For another year we’re hosting the Immersive Encounters competition, which showcases the best in virtual reality short film. All three programmes transport audiences into new realities, whether that be to new countries and environments or into the perspective of someone, or something else. Alongside our VR Theatre programmes – The 500, Sisterhood, We Sing in Fire and Blood and Scientific Wonders – our VR Cinema events are all powered by Limina Immersive, who are partnered with Watershed to make VR a leading cultural and meaningful artistic artform.

Our VR Cinema programmes will run from Wednesday through to Sunday at regular intervals every day, so just head to each event page to find a time that suits you. Before you book, you might want to learn a little more about each screening and the films that will feature… 

VR Cinema 1 : The Way I See It

The emergence of VR has given filmmakers a new opportunity to immerse viewers in their own depiction of the world. This programme transports the viewer into the world of the protagonists offering visual interpretation of the curiosity, joys and struggles within their realm.

The screening starts with Sanctuaries of Silence by Adam Loften and Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee. This short VR film provides an immersive experience into the isolated and quiet Hoh Rain Forest, situated in Western Washington State in the US. Acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton leads us through the forest and it’s sanctuaries of silence, which are increasingly being impacted by noise pollution.


Next up is Underwood or Unterholz, a hand crafted stop-motion animation VR experience where you, as tiny as a mouse, are guided through the forest following noises and rustlings on the forest floor.


Oscar-winning Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o narrates My Africa, a stunning immersive portrait of East Africa. Viewers are transported to the African savannah amongst Kenyan wildlife like thundering wildebeest and a lioness on the hunt. But, the film is ultimately about people and their bond with the natural landscape they live in. Director David Allen is a four-time Emmy winner and his film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York earlier this year.


Finally, John Lynch immerses viewers in the neurological phenomenon of sound to colour synesthesia in Crackle Pop, a kaleidoscope VR film. Colours and shapes vividly dance in front of your eyes to the music of Paul Russell’s post-punk orchestra Human Pyramids.

VR Cinema 2: Something Familiar

It is perhaps all too easy to use VR to transport the viewer to some far flung corner of the universe or somewhere equally new and exciting, this programme does the opposite. Through cultural reference or location, these films seek to provide comfort through familiarity creating a seamless transition from traditional platforms to new.

Start by diving into The Anatomy of the Orchestra and sense it’s inner workings with award-winning conductor Charles Hazlewood and the British Paraorchestra & Army of Generals. Experience the sounds, textures, melodies and harmonies in a virtual world.


Passing Through is an innovative 360-degree film featuring 86-year old trumpet player Eddie ‘Tan Tan’ Thornton. Listen to the sweet sounds of Judgement Daze by Eddie ‘TanTan’ above.


Next up is Back to the Moon, an animated VR short that celebrates pioneering illusionist and filmmaker Georges Méliès. This charming animation is co-directed by FX Goby and Hélène Leroux – you may recognise the illustrative style as Hélène does Google Doodles, which is what Back to the Moon was originally created for.


Voice of Hollywood legend Dean Tavoularis leads Kinoscope, which immerses the viewer on a lively and colourful journey into of the history of cinema. This short won Best VR Short at the Short Shorts Film Festival 2018 in Japan.


Finally, look into the future from the past in I Saw the Future as the voice of Arthur C. Clarke taken from a BBC archive, echoes through the cosmos. Clarke was a British science fiction writer and is still known as the king of science fiction since his death in 2008.

VR Cinema 3: My Story

In these four shorts a character’s journey takes centre stage. Viewers accompany them on their passage, either first hand or anecdotally, and are granted access to their thoughts and fears through dance, documentary and fiction.

Tidal Traces is a unique VR piece as dance is at the heart. Three female dancers move expressively in shallow water as they explore a new and uncertain world.


Join Amina, Changkouth and Mani as they navigate through extraordinarily difficult childhoods in three of the toughest environments on Earth in The Journey. We meet 3-year-old Amina in the poverty-stricken Afar region of Ethiopia, 10-year-old Changkouth as he attempts to avoid becoming a child soldier in South Sudan and 18-year-old Mani in Chad who is living with HIV.


A real highlight in this screening is The Sun Ladies, as it follows the compelling journey of a female-only fighting unit as they bring back their sisters and protect the honour and dignity of their people after ISIS destruction. The audience will be faced with the question “Who would you be and what would you do faced with the extreme inhumane violence against those you love?”


Also based on true events is the final short in this screening, Borderline. Abraham, a young Israeli soldier, is guarding the borderline with a fellow young soldier. He is left alone for a few minutes and is faced with an impossible dilemma, which the audience feels with Abraham because of the film’s immersive style.


If you can make it down to the Watershed next week, there’s plenty of opportunities to explore the world of VR, which means having the unique chance to delve into the lives and perspectives of others from all corners of the world. All screenings promise to be truly immersive and powerful experiences, so book your tickets today!

As with all of our film screenings, if you are already a festival pass holder you can book your free ticket from 9am on the day of the screening. If you’re yet to buy your festival pass, click here.

Don’t forget to have a look at our full programme to find out what else we’ve got in store for this year’s festival.