Best of VR Venice Biennale Cinema 2022

In the VR experience, The Miracle Basket, we get a glimpse into humankind’s recent past, told through an intimate childhood story. It’s a textured and layered story that delivers a serious message in seemingly innocent images and design. By describing the arrival of the west as the downfall of innocence, the VR experience relates to environmental issues of today and political uprisings through storytelling. The Dutch VR production has been selected for The Best of VR at the 79th Venice International Film Festival.

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The Miracle Basket, Photo credit: Institute of Time

The Story

While camping, a grandfather tells a story to his grandson, and takes the boy to a village in a forest from the past. There, indigenous people live in harmony with nature and each other. The user of the VR experience walks through a colorful, animated world, with children playing, various animals, and birds and insects flying through the air. The idyll is disrupted by the arrival of the West, represented as a spaceship filled with contemporary symbolism: iconic names of brands, like a garbage heap of logos and lights. The villagers are impressed and welcome the passengers on board the West into their world. They dance to modern music, proclaiming the message "more, more" and are fascinated by all that the West has to offer.

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The Miracle Basket, Photo credit: Institute of Time

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The Miracle Basket, Photo credit: Institute of Time

Not long after, their world becomes a desert of burned-out houses, withered plants, and no trace of animals. Moreover, there is no food. During their desperate scavenge for food, they stumble upon The Miracle Basket. It contains just enough seeds to start all over again. The arrival of rain finally washes away the last remnants of their mistakes, and we see a world emerge where man, nature, and technology go hand in hand. The villagers realize that without the mistakes of the past, they would not know the value of their paradisiacal forest. The Miracle Basket thus delivers a message that is as cautionary as it is hopeful, encouraging the viewer to think about our impact on the world.

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The Miracle Basket, Photo credit: Institute of Time

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Poster The Miracle Basket, Photo credit: Institute of Time

About Abner Preis

Visual artist and storyteller, Abner Preis, tells seemingly simple stories with a deeper social layer. He draws inspiration from the age-old structure of fairy tales and legends to address timely and heavy topics. His work is rooted in personal aspirations, providing hope in a situation that seems hopeless, transferring the ability to laugh at sadness, and to seduce viewers into seeing beauty in bleak objects by offering compositions that play to emotion before aesthetics. In his work, he uses simple drawings and cheerful, collage-like backgrounds that often contain references to the issues in the story. For example, the plants and flowers in The Miracle Basket are made from images of extinct species.

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Director Abner Preis, Photo credit: Institute of Time

About Institute of Time

The Miracle Basket is a co-production of Institute of Time and Valk Productions. Institute of Time is an interdisciplinary film and new media company based in Amsterdam, specializing in augmented reality and virtual reality productions. At Biennale Cinema 2022, the official name of the Venice Film Festival, two of the three Dutch Virtual Reality entries are productions by Institute of Time. In addition to The Miracle Basket, ELELE will be showcased at the festival. In ELELE, spectators undergo a captivating and intimate experience in which their own hands push the boundaries of physical contact. ELELE was produced with a grant from the Venice Biennale College Cinema program, and is the directorial debut of Dutch artist, Sjoerd van Acker. ELELE will have its world premiere at the festival.