MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Virtual reality is expanding the creative horizons of filmmaking, and that’s being reflected in this year’s Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival.

The dates for the largest film event in the Midwest were announced Tuesday. Officials with the Film Society of Minneapolis-St. Paul, which puts on the festival, say it will run from April 13-29, bringing 250 films from more than 70 countries to Minnesota audiences.

Part of the program will be a showcase of 11 virtual reality projects, which festival officials describe as “best, most engaging and mind-expanding” work in the medium in the last few years.

The “Virtual Reality and the Future of Storytelling Exhibition” will run from April 21-25 at the St. Anthony Main Theatre, where most of the festival screenings take place. Admission will be free and open to the public.

A sampling of the experiences in the VR showcase include: the terror of walking a plank atop a skyscraper (“Richie’s Plank Experience”): being accosted by relatives after coming out (“Out of Exile: Daniel’s Story”); and exploring the changing landscape of the Amazon jungle (“Under the Canopy”). You can read the full list of VR projects here.

Also part of the VR showcase is a panel discussion on the future of the medium.

The panel will feature virtual reality filmmakers discussing how the technology is proving to be an immensely disruptive force in cinema, forcing filmmakers to rethink the possibilities of visual storytelling. The panel discussion is slated for April 22 at the Mill Artists Lofts Performance Hall in Minneapolis.

As for the hundreds of old-fashioned films playing at the festival, the full lineup will be revealed on March 23.

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