With ‘Evolver,’ Cate Blanchett Brings XR Passion to Cannes

Continuing a sterling festival run, the XR experience “Evolver” was one of eight projects selected for the Cannes Film Festival’s inaugural Immersive Competition this year.

Narrated by Cate Blanchett, the project follows the flow of oxygen throughout the human body, tracing our inner ecosystems via a full sensory experience set to music from Jonny Greenwood and Jóhann Jóhannsson among many more. Blanchett’s Dirty Films produced the project alongside partners Atlas V, Pressman Film, Marshmallow Laser Feast, and Orange, in association with Artizen. “Evolver” also boasts Terrence Malick and the late Edward R. Pressman as executive producers.

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In between promotional duties for “Rumours” and her Proof of Concept accelerator program, the Oscar-winning star made time to visit the “Evolver” installation at Cannes’ Cineum, where the full Immersive Competition will be available until May 25.

Blanchett shared her enthusiasm for new media with Variety.

What do you think about Cannes launching an Immersive competition?

Cinema is always about immersing oneself in other worlds. Giving a platform to pioneering works that are exploring new opportunities for transportational experiences is an inevitable extension and I’m over the moon we’ve been able to take part in this launch. The core of Cannes will always be pure cinema – but to include those pushing at the technical edge of this purity is, to my mind, vital for creative health of any festival.

How might these new forms help attending filmmakers?

Sometimes the freshest directors are — sometimes unknowingly – also great choreographers, designers, crafts people, and musicians. Giving them new ways to explore multidimensional space and different paths to create engaging soundscapes puts more tools in their arsenal.

What tools drew you to this project?

Personally, I was driven to collaborate on “Evolver” by ignorance and curiosity to put a toe in this medium that seems to have infinite possibilities and applications, about which I know next to nothing. Marshmallow Laser Feast were so turbo charged and generous with their knowledge and with themselves, wanting to push beyond the usual audience boundaries. But yes – it’s always about the conversation for me. I find the intersection of science and art particularly moving, and being exposed to new ways to propel story and experience for an audience was a big motivator.

How was your experience of “Evolver” in Cannes?

As in any approach to filmmaking, “Evolver” has been all about intense collaboration – which may seem paradoxical, since with the VR goggles worn by the viewer they may feel like it’s a solitary experience initially. You do feel connected during the event and afterwards to others around you as well as the space you’ve moved through. Your breath slows. Guided by voice your own movements and the stunning all-encompassing sound of Jonny Greenwood, Meredith Monk and Jon Hopkins. I was deeply moved by the world they were laying down.

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