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Virtual reality, already a staple at the more famous film festivals like Sundance and Tribeca, is making its first appearance at the Adirondack Film Festival, which kicks off Thursday.

Only VIP ticket holders will be able to experience this new technology and watch the short film “Age of Sail,” a production unlike anything else at the four-day festival. The virtual reality film will be shown Friday and Saturday in Charles R. Wood Theater’s Cabaret Space.

Show times are scheduled in 15-minute slots. The movie itself is about 12 minutes long.

“We’re among the first ever to do this,” said Chad Rabinovitz, the Adirondack Film Festival’s producing artistic director. The virtual reality experience is sponsored by The Clarion Inn & Suites Lake George.

From the first moment he tried the new form of movie-watching technology, Rabinovitz knew “I have to have this in my life,” he said.

Festival organizers originally wanted to bring the 2016 film “Pearl” to this year’s Adirondack Film Festival. “Pearl” became the first virtual reality film to be nominated for an Academy Award in 2017.

Instead, Rabinovitz opted to bring the Google Spotlight Stories film “Age of Sail,” directed by John Kahrs, a new movie that premiered only weeks ago.

Set on the ocean in 1900, “Age of Sail” is the story of William Avery (voiced by Ian McShane), an old sailor adrift and alone in the North Atlantic. When Avery reluctantly rescues Lara, who has mysteriously fallen overboard from another passenger vessel, he finds redemption and hope in his darkest hour.

With the headset on, moviegoers are launched into a completely different, infinite world with 360 degrees of sights.

Viewers feel like they are sitting in a boat, surrounded by an animated ocean in every direction. As a storm approaches, the waves start to break over the sides of the boat and participants will feel like they need to duck as a boom nearly hits them in the head.

When Avery and Lara are tossed overboard and the boat sinks, viewers are under the water with them.

“You’re watching a movie,” Rabinovitz said. “It’s just happening all around you.”

Rabinovitz pointed out that the seated experience will not cause people to feel sea sick or nauseated.

“That’s what old VR was,” he said, “because the image was moving too slow for your eyes and was lagging.”

Modern virtual reality is surprisingly realistic, he noted.

“You can be genuinely scared, you can be genuinely consumed by the story because you lose all connection of where you are,” he said. “The things that happen, even in an animated world, feel real to you.”

This is the third year of the film festival, which will show more than 100 films and feature a comedy panel, a French film event, three art galleries and more than 100 guest filmmakers in attendance. The festival opens Thursday with the premiere screening of “Radium Girls,” which was filmed in the Glens Falls and Lake George area.

With 100 films being shown, the “Age of Sail” virtual reality experience is just one of the many activities planned for the four-day festival taking place at six venues in downtown Glens Falls.

“Until you do it,” Rabinovitz said, “you don’t know what to expect.”

The VIP Pass is $75, which allows entry into every event and film. There is also a $55 Festival Pass and a $30 Day Pass. Tickets are on sale at www.adkfilmfestival.org/tickets/.

Trailers: Adirondack Film Festival — headliner and feature films

Watch the trailers for the headliner and feature films for this year's Adirondack Film Festival. 

The festival starts Oct. 18 at venues across downtown Glens Falls.

Headliners:

  • "Won't you be my Neighbor?"
  • "Three Identical Strangers"
  • "The Song of Sway Lake"
  • "Mrs. Hyde"
  • "Anna and the Apocalypse"
  • "Radium Girls"

Feature films:

  • "About a Donkey"
  • "After Hours Trading"
  • "Don't Be Nice"
  • "One Bedroom"
  • "Rodents of Unusual Size"
  • "Skippers"
  • "Rendezvous in Chicago"

For more information visit adkfilmfestival.org.

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