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Diff 2017: The future is Virtual Reality

A showcase of 26 VR films is giving movie lovers a very different perspective to cinema as we know it

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At the Dubai International Film Festival (Diff) this year, a whole new dimension is bubbling to the surface. DIFFerent Reality, presented by du Cinema, showcases Virtual Reality (VR) cinema.

Using innovative forms of technology, Diversion Cinema, a French media company that specialises in exhibiting and distributing VR cinema, handles all the technical aspects of the showcase. About 26 VR films are scheduled to be screened at two-hour intervals through each day of the film festival. Samsung Galaxy S8s are being used, along with Samsung Gear devices, to display the films, with each viewer using a VR headset.

“These films are shot with special 360-degree cameras, and when viewed, [visuals] can be seen all around you,” said Jun Partington, a French VR Operator from Diversion Cinema. “We just want to show people new kinds of media. Most people don’t know about VR cinema and its capabilities, so to be one of the first to show them is a great experience.”

The spectacle began on December 7 as festivalgoers began to assemble at the du Cinema section, in Madinat Jumeirah, for a movie fest.

“It’s amazing because you have to discover the story in 360 degrees, and you work like a detective as you keep looking for the story,” said Yvonne Kuehl, a German producer for the festival.

The show times and VR film listings for DIFFerent Reality can be found on

— The Young Journalist Award (YJA) at Diff is a training programme for high school and university students who are aspiring writers and reporters. Seven students are competing at the festival this year. One winner will secure a monthlong internship with Gulf News.