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MIAMI BEACH’S O CINEMA BRINGS THE VIRTUAL REALITY EXPERIENCE TO SOUTH FLORIDA

Written By Vanessa Reyes
March 2, 2023 at 2:35 PM

Step into another world and experience virtual reality cinema like never before with ‘This is Not a Ceremony’ at O Cinema. Image courtesy O Cinema.

Miami Beach’s O Cinema is pushing the boundaries of what movie-watching means by taking the experience a step further. The cinema has implemented the virtual reality experience making VR headsets available, allowing guests to completely immerse themselves in the film.

Running through April, the Cinema is playing “This is Not a Ceremony” in VR format every Saturday and Sunday inside their Historic City Hall location at the corner of Washington Avenue and 12th Street.

The short film, which premiered to critical acclaim at Sundance’s New Frontier Fest in 2022, explores the darker side of living in Canada as part of the indigenous community.

“When I saw it in the Tribeca (Film Festival) last June (2022), I cried into the headset like a baby, it was so powerful,” says Vivian Marthell, Co-Founder and Co-director of the Cinema.”I felt it was so powerful that I had to bring it to our community.”

Take a seat at the medicine wheel and immerse yourself in the powerful story of two indigenous men who faced systemic racism in Canada with O Cinema’s new cinematic virtual reality experience. Image courtesy O Cinema

Guests will be able to watch the narrative unfold through the eyes of two indigenous trickster poets in the remarkable film experience directed by Niitsitapi writer Ahnahktsipiitaa (Colin Van Loon).

Niitsitapi means someone from the Blackfoot Nation, a North American Indian tribe.

“(We) don’t necessarily do Superman and Batman, (we) do these amazing independent first run films, whether they are made locally or not, that are super independent from a diverse community of film-makers,” says Marthell.

The mission-driven cinema makes the experience accessible to almost everyone with its art program called O Cinema on the Go, taking the film and VR headsets to libraries like North Dade and Westchester Regional.

“(We take it to areas where) there may be technological inequities so it becomes a resource and an opportunity to tell a story in a different way to our community,” says Marthell.

The film is also available on-demand so it can be watched at home with use of a personal VR headset and computer.

O Cinema is now the only movie theater on Miami Beach. Image courtesy O Cinema

They are currently working with the social platform, AltspaceVR, which is used for live mixed reality experiences, but with the imminent closing of that app, they are looking to change to platforms like Engage or Horizons in the near future.

With the exception of the Rooftop Cinema Club, the O will be the only other movie theater left in Miami Beach after the impending closing of the Regal South Beach. It’s also one the last nonprofit art houses left in Miami.

“The industry is really changing (and) people consume stories and media in a plethora of different ways,” says Marthell, “It’s about engaging my community and sharing with them things that they ordinarily may not see and a little bit about introducing new technology and innovation that can spark a future creative or add some special sauce to someone’s creativity.”

Cost: $5 including the VR headset
What: The VR Experience, currently playing This is Not a Ceremony
Where: O Cinema, 1130 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
When: Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m.to 8 p.m.
Information: Movie is for mature audiences, 17+. Check website for more information: o-cinema.org

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