Meet the makers: 5 interactive documentaries at i-Docs 2016

The i-Docs symposium has always been built around a conversation between academics and industry, with delegates from both fields present.

i-Docs 2016 is no different, except this year the symposium is spread over three days, meaning more talks to choose from. Check out a selection of the great projects that will be presented below.


Good Luck Soup

I first heard about this project through Kickstarter where filmmaker Matthew Hashiguchi was looking for $15,000 to get the interactive element going. It was successful (obviously) and Good Luck Soup Interactive was created as an open and collaborative storytelling process where any Japanese North American could shape the project narrative by submitting a personal story or experience as it relates to their Japanese heritage.

Individual stories from different generations, people and places unfold in a series of seven chapters that when viewed together reflect the universal themes of immigration, integration and identity.

Matthew will be at i-Docs 2016 to present the project and talk about areas he’s focused on; Reframe, remix, remediate – interactive approaches to non-fiction archives and Open Space documentary – open processes, open societies, open minds: the potential of hyperlocal collaborative storytelling.

Read the abstract
See the project

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Digital Me

I couldn’t help but already know about this project as one of the makers is i-Docs co-convener Sandra Gaudenzi. Alongside Mike Robbins from Helios Design Labs, the Digital Me visualises our online personas by giving them their own agency. They are the ones that want to meet us, they are the ones that initiate the dialogue and, by doing so, they make us realise how hybrid and  fragmented our personality is.

The project was picked up by development by Chris Sizemore for the BBC’s experimental platform Taster and the finished piece was co-developed with them.

By using Digital Me as a case study, Sandra will exemplify how using data mining can create experiences that involve the user into an immersive narrative about the self. This is followed by a conversation with commissioner Chris Sizemore.

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See the project



Bisbee is a portrait of a remote, eclectic Borderlands town, inspired by the personal experiences and memories of Alexander Paris, a young artist raised by the town’s community. The project draws on the storytelling tradition of magical realism as Alexander’s memories provide intimate insight into the heart of the town and its people.

Again it began as a successful Kickstarter campaign (Director Allison Otto wrote this guest post for us back in 2014), gained further mentorship through the POV Hackathon and is due to be released soon.

Allison will be presenting the project alongside her collaborator, award-winning media artist Jeff Soyk, who worked on the widely praised interactive documentary Hollow.

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He Said/She Said

This is a self-reflective piece about the excessive need to be seen and be heard, a critical thinking exercise touting maximum audience participation. Your reaction to prompts – i.e. “Who do you believe?” – triggers a shift in perspective or time travel to another segment, making it possible to experience the same story from multiple angles in a seven-minute session, an ode to reality – how we can be in the same relationship but have radically different experiences, and therefore different ways of talking about it.

The first interactive documentary from J. Faye Yuan, a New York based Chinese-American writer and director, He Said/She Said is another POV Hackathon alumni, launching a prototype in August last year. Now a finalist at Sundance New Frontier 2016, Yuan attributes rapid prototyping as the key to their success.

Through showing the project at i-Docs, she will be posing the question; how can we re-examine the power of social media by subverting those tools into methods of storytelling to create immersive experiences that most accurately depict modern intimacy?

Read the abstract
See the prototype

Being (T)here: Experiencing Place and Presence in Augmented and Virtual Reality Documentary Projects

Not actually a project, but a panel title because there are three speakers and projects being presented here!

Annie Berman’s Oculus Rift documentary Utopia 1.0: Post-Neo-Futurist-Capitalism in 3D! explores the remnants of Second Life, a formerly thriving virtual 3D world, and investigates its susceptibility to the same economic pitfalls that plague our ‘real’ world. The expedition travels through a largely abandoned virtual 3D world in search of utopia, a place (literally defined as “no place”) that represented a perfect society.

Samara Smith’s On Hamburger Square is an augmented reality audio documentary exploring the history and character of Hamburger Square, Greensboro, NC’s first town square. Participants explore the square with an map guiding them to objects such as monuments, public art and signs.

Sarah Nelson Wright’s Over the River is a virtual reality experience of a unique landscape that recently vanished from New York City’s waterfront. Hunter’s Point South is a large, formerly industrial site built on layers of landfill that was left fallow for 40 years and grew into a verdant forest with robust ecology.


Read the abstract

All this and more at i-Docs 2016 – check out the full programme