Trailer Watch: A Journal of Insomnia

One of the Storyscapes projects I’m looking forward to at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival is A Journal of Insomnia, an “interactive fresco” combining confessions from insomniacs the world over and gathered since 2012. The “unique nocturnal premiere” happens April 18. From the press release:

The original idea for the project comes from Hugues Sweeney, Executive Producer of NFB French Program’s Digital Studio in Montreal. Hugues explains that, “This is not a traditional Web documentary. It is a genuine attempt to push the boundaries of the genre by merging art and design with technology and social media, to create a new vocabulary and grammar for visual storytelling. That is why we are delighted to premiere the project at the Tribeca Film Festival. They share our vision and mission. They also want to reinvent the cinema.”

Ingrid Kopp, Storyscapes programmer and Director of Digital Initiatives at Tribeca Film Institute, adds, “NFB Interactive have been trailblazers in the space of interactive storytelling, and I am thrilled to have A Journal of Insomnia in the inaugural Storyscapes section at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. The project perfectly encapsulates our mission to show and support immersive, interactive work that brings story, craft and technology together and facilitates a more active audience experience.”

Sweeney is interviewed here at Filmmaker as part of the “The New Interactive Storytelling” series collaboration with MIT’s Open Doc Lab. An excerpt:

MIT Open Documentary Lab: What are the most useful skills for an interactive storyteller? What are the tools of the trade?

Sweeney: Interactivity is the narration. You have to figure out how the experience of the user is the story – how all the small actions you want her/him to make write a larger tale. For instance, navigation is to web what editing is to cinema. One of the difficult things though is to find a perfect equilibrium between form and content – how do you make sure that the user experience is not drowned by design or technology … how do you make the surface of an interactive device a canvas? If we go back to the definition of documentary, it says: artistic interpretation of reality. This definition is very inspiring and opens so many doors. How do you artfully interpret reality using digital media? It’s graphics, photo, video, text, real-time connection, software, databases; also a capacity to connect devices such as a mouse, webcam, movement sensor, GPS; also a capacity for the public to make choices, engage, alterate content – and the possibility to connect with each other.