Past events

Industry Panel: The Future of Interactive Storytelling 26 Nov 2013 at 15:00

Where will it be in 5 years?

Live: The Age of the Interface 26 Nov 2013 at 20:00

A live cinema celebration of storytelling the age of the interface. With internet pioneers Vincent Morisset and Moniker, cardboard interfaces, connected smartphones, interactive music videos and an edible camera. Part of Interactive Reality organized with De Brakke Grond.

Live: Playing with Reality 25 Nov 2013 at 20:00

Interactive showcase of three game-changing, playable documentaries, including 17000 Islands, Type:Rider and the NFB’s Fort McMoney, one of the most ambitious documentary games ever made. Part of Interactive Reality organized with De Brakke Grond.

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Interactive Reality Lab Report

The Interactive Reality Lab is a new meeting place or “un-conference” for international experts and a talent program for twenty digital documentary storytellers from the Netherlands and Belgium. A summary of the Masterclash Hackathon and the Interactive Talent Summit.

Masterclash Hackaton

For the Masterclash Hackathon, three of the lab participants were invited to develop a new interactive project in 24 hours, under the professional guidance of three renowned digital pioneers and the Upian production team.

The three groups all started off with very diverse starting points; a technology without story or interface, a 300 year old database of bees and a finished webdocumentary project waiting for a next phase. During the very intense sessions of this hackathon, the groups created new narrative structures, designs for compelling interfaces, user experiences and immersive stories from scratch. The results of the three teams were pitched at the Interactive Reality Conference the next day.

Love Radio
Sara Kolster, Arthur Herrman, Alexandre Brachet and Eric Drier.

The first project team included interactive storyteller Sara Kolster, designer Arthur Herrman and Alexandre Brachet and Eric Drier from Upian. They soon switched the original subject of their project and choose to work on Love Radio, a transmedia project that Sara Kolster and Arthur Herrman were already working on. The project is about the Rwandan radio soap Musekeweya which is broadcasted at the same radio frequency as the hate campaigns during the Rwandan genocide twenty years ago. Now radio is used to reconcile and heal the wounds. Love Radio, Episodes of Love and Hate will be online during the same period as the killings twenty years ago, between April 2014 and June 2014. By adopting different perspectives, the experience will show that several realities coexist.

During the very intense brainstorm sessions, the team developed an interesting narrative structure for the interactive soap opera episodes that Love Radio will consist of. The recognizable format provides an entry point for users to dive into the complex reality of the story. Each episode starts with a listener of the soap, while a narrator guides you through the story. Then you will dive into the much more complex reality, in which the actor playing a Hutu is actually a Tutsi in real life. Every episode, a celebrity concludes the story and poses questions in order to help to understand it. The processes of reconsiliation and the role of mass media in conflicts reaches much further than the story of Rwanda. This engaging transmedia experience will be launched in April 2014 for desktop and mobile.

Thomas Deyries, Hugues Sweeney, Callum Cooper and Ana Tiquia

A whole other interactive experience is Apoidea which will allow the user to explore a 300 year old collection of more than 10.000 bee species. The collection physically exists in wooden cases in the Science Museum in London. Hugues Sweeney, Ana Tiquia, Thomas Deyries and Callum Cooper wanted to link this physical collection to the sheet with data about the bees that is only used by scientists until now. How to make this collection accessible in an interesting way?

By transforming the datasheet into a tool for storytelling, a narrative is crafted through the collection. The interactive experience will be a five minute journey. One starts with his or her own bee, based on its location. By touching the bee one stimulates a voice and unlocks different pieces of data. By cross-pollinating the dataset, one eventually gets access to the whole database.

The Lithium Triangle
Brett Gaylor, Sébastien Brothier and
Wim Forceville

The third team started without a story, or even a topic. Instead, they started off with a technology. Wim Forceville is creative director at FishEye and Coptermotion, which explores the technique of filming with drones. Together with Brett Gaylor (Mozilla) and Sébastien Brothier (Upian), he hunted for a story during the hackathon.

Interestingly enough, they immediately got rid of the technology, in order to find a good story. According to Brett Gaylor, a production process starts with a good story, than comes the vision, and only then one can decide on the technology. The team soon stumbled upon an interesting topic. Bolivia has the largest amount of lithium (50%) in the world, the element that is used for batteries in our cell phones and other mobile devices. Lithium is the hope for Bolivia, but so far, countries with a lot of natural resources had less economic growth than countries with less natural resources. Will Bolivia be able to benefit from their sources?

Three characters will guide the user through the story: a tourist, a worker and a local farmer. By using the perspective of the drone, one is able to experience the story from multiple levels. Every drone has a flypath that intersect with each other. This way one can change the path along the way. On the ground, the story will be more personal, while higher up one can experience the meta level of this subject and have insight to the connections between countries, flows etcetera. Another idea that occured during the brainstorm sessions, is to visualize the flow of lithium in the city. The swarming of lithium through the city (mobile devices) actually resembles the properties of the element itself.

Interactive Talent Summit

On monday November 25, a larger group of international experts and talents were invited to exchange ideas  and informally discuss the future of interactive documentary. The participants dived into a concrete case study and workshop of a new interactive documentary in development by a.o. Upian and ARTE France.

Underlying questions that were explored during the workshop included: How to make use of the freedom offered by the internet, without getting lost in its boundlessness? How to create projects that manage to touch our emotions? And how does one finance an interactive documentary, find the right partners, and reach an audience?

The Upian team and Brett Gaylor invited the participants to enter the stage for the first collective excersice. One could agree or disagree with specific statements, by choosing a position along the ‘spectagram’ on stage. This way, the participants were able to get to know each others opinions, interests and fields of expertise.

Next, the participants were divided into groups and collectively developed charachter profiles, stories, interfaces and business models for a new interactive documentary in development called Do Not Track. Let’s Track The Trackers. This way, the project was used as a test case of how to produce international co-productions. How to make a web documentary that is both one to many and a personal one to one experience at the same time? And how to address the differences in the definition of privacy per country? All groups came up with interesting stories, strategies, businessmodels and solutions.

After the workshop, Hugues Sweeney and Vincent Morriset presented the Digital Storytelling Manifesto that they had released together with other producers and directors from Quebec. Many participants recognized the ideas that were expressed in the manifesto. Together all participants of the Interactive Reality Lab read out loud:

“Interactive work is not a derivative of any other form of expression. It is an art form in itself. We must define the practice and support it through a unique process tailored to its needs and character.”

Hugues Sweeney and Vincent Morriset encouraged the participants to adept the manifesto in order to make it their own. It is an open source manifesto. Sustainable support for interactive documentaries is needed everywhere. In our ‘age of the interface’, we can only guess how interactive storytelling will develop. If it’s up to the particpants of the Interactive Reality Lab, there are many narratives, strategies, interactions and models to be explored.

The Interactive Reality Lab is an initiative by Flemmish Arts Centre De Brakke Grond, IDFA DocLab, MEDIA Desk Vlaanderen and iDrops, in collaboration with the Netherlands Film Fund. It is made possible by the Creative Industries Fund NL and the AFK (Amsterdam Fund for the Arts).

Interactive Reality Conference Report

Saturday November 24 experts from various fields joined the Interactive Reality Conference of IDFA DocLab in De Brakke Grond. This one-day conference explored the future of documentary storytelling with speakers such as Jonathan Harris, Paolo Cirio, Kira Pollack and Vincent Morisset.

firestarters by Vodafone & IDFA DocLab

New partner of IDFA DocLab explores how the mobile revolution changes creative industries.

We’re excited to announce a new partnership with firestarters by Vodafone. firestarters is an initiative by Vodafone, exploring how the mobile revolution changes creative industries.

This partnership has resulted in two new collaborations at IDFA 2013: the adoption of the IDFA DocLab Competition for Digital Storytelling, as well as commissioning the Emotional Arcade project together with IDFA DocLab and De Brakke Grond.

firestarters IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling

IDFA’s new media program DocLab presents the cutting edge of digital and interactive documentary storytelling. Every year, fifteen projects are presented in competition. A three-member Jury – consisting of interaction design expert Jason Brush (Possible), Kira Pollack (Head of Photography at Time Magazine) and John MacFarlane (crossmedia producer at SBS Australia) – will evaluate the projects, nominate three of them and select the winner of the firestarters IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Documentary Storytelling/ The prize consists of a sculpture and €2,500. All projects in competition are presented online and are exhibited at the festival as installations or during special live cinema events.

firestarters presents: Emotional Arcade

Besides the DocLab competition program, firestarters also presents the Emotional Arcade during IDFA, an amazing new interactive installation by filmmaker Brent Hoff and robot artist Alexander Reben. The Emotional Arcade uses a range of technologies, including modified EEG headsets and biometric sensors, as well as carnivalesque props to set up a series of “emotional competitions,” games such as “Rage Balloons,” in which contestants compete to fill balloons with their feelings, and a “Love Competition.” The games are playful variations on our never-ending quest to understand each other and ourselves, and a commentary on the fact that these days, even our most intimate emotions are mediated through data centers and touch screens.

The project will be presented during IDFA 2013 as an interactive installation at the Interactive Reality Exhibtion from November 21-24, as well as during DocLab Live: firestarters presents Emotional Arcade on November 22 at 20:00 in Rode Zaal at De Brakke grond.

Win free tickets or an HTC One smartphone

Want to attend the event live cinema event for free or win a HTC One smartphone? firestarters is giving away 10 seats, and anyone competing in the Emotional Arcade has the chance to win a HTC One smartphone. Sign up at

The IDFA DocLab Competition 2013

We proudly present the 15 projects eligible for the firestarters IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling.

IDFA has published the list of titles selected for all festival programs, including the IDFA DocLab Competition and the Interactive Reality Program (organised in collaboration with De Brakke Grond).

The IDFA DocLab Competition includes:

  • 17000 Islands Thomas A. Østbye/Edwin (Norway/Indonesia, 2013)
  • Burn Out Samuel Bollendorff/Olivia Colo (France, 2013)
  • Dream Homes Property Consultants Alexandra Handal (England, 2013)
  • Faces of Facebook Natalia Rojas (Argentina, 2013)
  • Fort McMoney Dufresne David (Canada, 2013)
  • Hidden Wounds Interactive Tomas Kaan (The Netherlands, 2013)
  • Hollow Elaine McMillion (USA, 2013)
  • I Love Your Work Jonathan Harris (USA, 2013)
  • Just a Reflektor Vincent Morisset (USA/Canada/England, 2013)
  • The Last Hunt Jeremy Mendes/NFB Digital Studio (Canada, 2013)
  • Out of Sight out of Mind Pitch Interactive (USA, 2013)
  • A Short History of the Highrise Katerina Cizek (Canada, 2013)
  • The Sochi Project Arnold van Bruggen/Rob Hornstra (The Netherlands, 2013)
  • Type:Rider Théo Le Du Fuentes (France, 2013)
  • Unspeak (Netherlands, 2013)

All fifteen projects in competition are eligible for the firestarters IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling, consisting of a sculpture and a cash prize of € 2.500.

Interactive Reality Lab

A new meeting place and talent program for digital storytellers

During IDFA 2013, the interdisciplinary arts centre De Brakke Grond, IDFA DocLab and iDrops present the Interactive Reality Lab, a new meeting place for international experts and a talent program for 20 digital documentary storytellers from the Netherlands and Belgium.

  • How does one tell an interactive documentary story?
  • How do successful digital pioneers make use of the freedom offered by the internet, without getting lost in its boundlessness?
  • How do they create projects that go beyond technological innovation and manage to touch our emotions?
  • How does one finance an interactive documentary, find the right partners, and reach an audience?

The Interactive Reality Lab aims to contribute to both the international development of the interactive documentary genre and discover, stimulate and nurture new talents from the low countries by allowing world-renowned artists and experts – among whom will be Jonathan Harris, Loc Dao (NFB), Vincent Morisset and many many more – to share their knowledge with each other and up-and-coming digital documentary storytellers. Participants have access to all events from the Interactive Reality program, as well as to a number private sessions. Highlights include:

Interactive Talent Summit
International experts and talents are invited to exchange ideas, network and discuss the future of interactive documentary. The event includes breakfast and a case study and workshop of an ambitious new interactive documentary in development by a.o. Upian and ARTE France.

Monday 25 November | 9 am – 2 pm | Invitation Only

Masterclash Hackaton
Three lab participants will be invited to each develop a new interactive project in 24 hours, under the professional guidance of three renowned digital pioneers and the Upian production team. Results will be presented the very next day at the Interactive Reality Conference on 24 November.

Tutors include

Participants Interactive Reality Lab 2013

Lotte Meijer
“I am an interaction designer passionate about sharing stories and bringing out the stories hidden in datasets with interactive installations, websites, location-based mobile applications, and embedded media that are enlightening, entertaining, and easy to use.”

Annelies Termeer
I am a digital strategist. I develop interactive projects in the cultural field. These projects can take many forms, but always aim to be content-driven and user-centered”

Albertine Piels
“I am a multimedia filmmaker, journalist and senior editor at TEDxAmsterdam. I’m passionate about the internet and I believe in digital and interactive storytelling as the future of filmmaking.”

Maartje Duin
“I am a journalist and a radio documentary maker. Fascinated by social taboos like idleness, loneliness, the disadvantages of being rich. My stories are personal and often feature myself as a wondering narrator.”

Nienke Huitenga
“I am a transmedia producer and a journalist with a soft spot for everything film. I also lecture in media and story design.”

Sara Kolster
“I am an independent designer specialised in digital storytelling. I initiate interactive productions for museums and (non-fiction) interactives for radio & tv broadcasters and independent filmmakers.”

Hay Kranen
“Imagine a straight line. On the left there is web development, on the right you’ve got internet art. I’m somewhere in the middle.”

Jan Rothuizen
“I am a visual artist who maps reality by hand-drawn drawings. My work can bee seen monthly in the newspaper ŒDe Volkskrant¹ and in ŒSoft Atlas¹ books.”

Menno Otten
“I am an experimental filmmaker working on documentaries, multi-screen installations and video-art projects. My latest short “Via Dolorosa” premieres at this years IDFA.”

Gustaaf Haan
“Making a flying start into the world of documentaries.”

Koert van Menschvoort
“The discovery of has been the most profound experience in my life so far. I employ all sorts of media to materialize my philosophy.”

Floris Kaayk
“I’m focusing on futuristic visions, fantasies and concepts. My work visualizes technological progress, sometimes by showing its benefits, or by presenting its negative consequences.”

Wim Forceville
“I am the co-founder of the creative-technological collective Fisheye from Ghent, Belgium. As well as the founder of Coptermotion, which flies drones for the film world. From cinema to 3D photogrammetry & friendly robotics.”

Katherina Smets
“As a radio journalist and feature maker I work for the national broadcast in Belgium (VRT) and the Netherlands (VPRO). I teach audio storytelling at the Royal Conservatory in Antwerp.”

Sandy Claes
“Filmmaker, Designer, Experimenter, Thinker, Writer and cat lover.”

Lieven Corthouts
“I was born in Belgium, raised in a suburb of Brussels. I made My Future in Ethiopia and moved to Addis were I made Little Heaven. These two films have been screened at IDFA. Now, I am making a film in a refugee camp somewhere at the border of Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia.”

Gregg Young
“I am an film maker with interests in gaming, interactivity and plain good storytelling.”

Erwin Verbruggen
“I work in research preserving disclosing audiovisual archives for the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. I program films for the open air film festival in Amsterdam.”

Herve Verloes
“Educated as a journalist, I started using the camera as soon as I began working. Since 4 years, I am working on several transmedia projects, and web-based multilingual storytelling in Europe.”

Tom Cornille
“I’m a senior researcher working in Research & Development of VRT, a Flemish Public Broadcast company. The main focus of my research is the development of prototypes for interactive, personalised and immersive experiences using new or emerging

Ingrid Leonard
“With a style that combines theater and documentary I explore the relationship between the individual and his or her environment. My points of interest are identity and space as a trigger for social behavior.”

The Interactive Reality Lab is an initiative by Flemmish Arts Centre De Brakke Grond, IDFA DocLab, MEDIA Desk Vlaanderen and iDrops, in collaboration with the Netherlands Film Fund. It is made possible by the Creative Industries Fund NL and the AFK (Amsterdam Fund for the Arts).