Sister Sylvester and Deniz Tortum's "Shadowtime" Poses a Virtual Reality Check at SXSW

Shadowtime, an immersive VR journey, announces its North American debut at SXSW on March 10, 2024. After its world premiere at the 80th Venice International Film Festival, and showcases at venues like the Eye Museum, the Geneva Int’l Film Festival, and Thessaloniki Int’l Film Festival, Shadowtime now engages the heart of technological innovation at SXSW with critical reflections on digital escapism and the climate crisis.

Coined by the Bureau of Linguistical Reality, the term “Shadowtime” describes the feeling of occupying two irreconcilable times simultaneously. Written and directed by Sister Sylvester and Deniz Tortum, and produced by Institute of Time, Shadowtime guides viewers through this duality of existence, pushing participants to ponder their roles within the digital and ecological realms.

“Shadowtime represents our critical exploration of these important themes,” said Deniz Tortum, continuing, “And we're looking forward to presenting it to SXSW audiences and the wider tech community for the very first time.”

VR Documentary by Sister Slyvester & Deniz Tortum, produced by Institute of Time

At SXSW (a festival celebrated as a mecca for tech visionaries) Shadowtime critiques the medium itself. Contrasting digital escapism and tangible environmental challenges, Shadowtime urges a reevaluation of our priorities in an era where technological advancement often overshadows the urgent need for climate action.

Shadowtime is more than a poetic exploration of VR's potential; it is a reflective journey that encourages audiences to reconsider technology's role amidst the climate crisis. By presenting a world where digital and physical realities are inextricably linked, the project underscores the interconnectedness of our world and the need to prioritize actionable solutions for our planet.

Shadowtime (2023) // Trailer from Institute of Time on Vimeo.

"You are in two worlds at the same time. Your body is in the other world, but your heart is in this one."

To exist in the virtual world is to have two bodies, four hands, two hearts. Alma, a mysterious guide to this double world, leads you through questions around the climate crisis, irreconcilable realities, and the virtual as a place to take shelter.

Writer/Directors: Sister Sylvester, Deniz Tortum
Producers: Fırat Sezgin, Ecegül Bayram (Institute of Time)
Lead Developer: Sjoerd van Acker
Music: Alican Çamcı
3D Artist: Bats Bronsveld
Alma: Rawya El Chab
AI Artist: Arjan van Meerten
Installation Artist: Doruk Çiftçi
Communication Design: Luiz Risi
Depthkit Advisor: Akmyrat Tuyliyev
Trailer: Sercan Sezgin

Sister Sylvester
Deniz Tortum

Sister Sylvester
Sister Sylvester (Leeds, 1984) works in performance and new media. She is a resident at ONX Studio; a 2019 MacDowell Fellow; an alumnus of the Public Theater New Works program and CPH:DOX lab. Her most recent film, “Our Ark,” co-directed with Deniz Tortum, and her most recent performance, ‘The Eagle and The Tortoise’, both premiered at IDFA and toured internationally. She creates installations and art books that become communal reading experiences, and is currently developing a series of work on synthetic biology.

Deniz Tortum
Deniz Tortum (Istanbul, 1989) works in film and immersive media. His latest film, “Our Ark” (co-directed with Sister Sylvester, 2021), premiered at IDFA and screened internationally; and his feature documentary, “Phases of Matter” (2020), premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and received the Best Documentary awards at the Istanbul and Antalya Film Festivals. He is currently developing a series of work around geoengineering, spiritism, and the climate crisis.

Institute of Time
Based in Utrecht, Institute of Time is an interdisciplinary film and new media company specializing in documentary films and XR experiences. Focusing on creative projects around climate change, it aims to bring a different perspective to our current life and uncertain future with the help of storytelling. Their previous work has premiered at festivals such as Venice, SXSW, IDFA, IFFR, Hot Docs, and more.


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