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Unleashing creativity at the GIFF Geneva Digital Market

Mix, Match and start from scratch, Jessica Maria Nassif. Source: GIFF/GDM.

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the cultural world hard. No festivals, no theatre, no concerts. The end-of-the-year trilogy transforms Geneva into an alienated figure. One must look carefully to find remains of cultural initiatives.

Among them the Geneva International Film Festival’s (GIFF) Geneva Digital Market (GDM). Always intended as an online event, it was launched this week, despite the cancellation of the festival following the federal measures at the end of October.

The GDM is not a digital expression of the festival but rather part of its essence. The GIFF was one of the first film festivals in the world to focus on immersive technologies and digital creations. And associating the XR (extended reality, including virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality) programmes with a professional market seemed like a necessary step forward. Paola Gazzani, head of digital and industry, tells us why.

Why the GDM is important. The GDM is the GIFF’s professional programme and involves round-tables, pitching sessions, matchmaking sessions, and XR coproduction meetings. It is open to professionals but also to the public.

“The aim is to promote the circulation of XR works, but also to encourage exchanges around this digital content. The market remains very emerging. It is therefore necessary to create a community around decision-makers, project creators and artists, not only for the knowledge itself, but also for the economic connections that can be made.”

Professionals from Europe, Asia and North America join the event every year.

The GDM is also a way to connect the traditional audio-visual sector with these new possibilities to strengthen the community and raise awareness. This year, impacts of digital transformation on the Swiss industry or gender and artificial intelligence are some of the topics that will be touched upon.

Digital and creation. In 2014, the GIFF focused on VR for the first time. But with the years, the digital expressions evolved with the number of selected projects. AR, MR, but also digital installations and AI-related projects now contribute to what is called the virtual territories.

“Everything has evolved since the beginning of the festival, starting with the technical aspects. We can barely keep up with technological advances. Then, artists have learned to evolve with these new technologies. In 2014, the technology wasn’t mastered. Today, it is totally different and there is an opening towards very different types of artists. As far as immersive technologies are concerned, it remains a field for experimentation. Nothing is really fixed, it's always moving.”

The GIFF might have been cancelled, but the GDM is still sending a strong message. There is an abundance of immersive creative potential around the world, and Geneva is contributing to bringing it to life.