This year Doclab brought us into a liminal reality, and as the description had forewarned, it was indeed a celebration of ambiguity. The competition, as ever, was hugely varied in form, technology, and subject matter, making our journey curious and contrasting.
Being together, in both physical and virtual spaces, was a joy. We explored the past, current realities, and speculative futures. We found ourselves questioning what non-fiction is right now and asking—when we explore the thresholds of reality—where is the line between fiction and non-fiction?
Immersing an audience is an artform which manifests in many ways, and this year's projects were no exception. We were taken on immersive journeys both emotionally and physically, we absorbed new and important perspectives, and we learned about ourselves through engaging in other worlds created.
Two projects stood out for their bold and evocative presentations, each managing to captivate us in completely different ways.
This award celebrates the courage, skill, and craft of makers who push the boundaries across disciplines and technologies. There is no better way to describe the evident creative process and resulting experience we give this prize to. The creators take us to all corners of their world, asking us to explore the role of all your senses in a story. This combination of design, engineering, audiovisuality, and multi-sensoriality surely plays an integral role in the future of immersive experience. The Special Jury Award for Creative Technology in the Immersive Non-Fiction Competition goes to Symbiosis by Polymorf.
To truly communicate to an international audience the systematic failures of a state toward its most vulnerable people is no easy thing to do. To do it in such a powerful, emotive, and impactful way meant these creators excellently navigated the sensitivity and complexity they faced. They have shown extraordinary skill and restraint in the use of technology, allowing us to feel the full heartbreaking force of their story. The IDFA DocLab Award for Immersive Non-Fiction goes to Museum of Austerity by Sasha Wares and John Pring.