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An Interactive Film Experience Premiering on the Festival Circuit


SXSW Spotlights Interactive Cinema with “Late Fragment” - a film review

Directors: Daryl Cloran, Anita Doran, Mateo Guez
Interactive Narrative
out of 5 stars

I caught the interactive narrative “Late Fragment” during SXSW’s Global Doc Days series — which Jaman sponsored this year — and I’m so glad I did. Producers Ana Serrano of the CFC Media Lab and Anita Lee of the National Film Board of Canada commissioned three writer/directors (Darly Cloran, Anita Doron, and Mateo Guez) to fashion interweaving narratives, all involving either the perpetrators or victims of crimes, coming to terms with their inner demons. You can read about the stories in depth at the “Late Fragment” website. They’re downer stories, I admit, but the cinematography, acting, and overall design of “Late Fragment” are so hypnotic and textured, clearly the work of passionate professionals, that I forgot how depressing they were, and flowed along to the rhythms of the stories.

And here’s where it differs from your run-of-the-mill movie experience. While watching it, audience members passed a remote from one to the other so that we each could get a chance to “interact” with the narrative. By hitting a button, we could turn the direction of the narrative so that it followed a particular character, deepening his/her story. My main critique is that it made for choppy, jarring transitions, as the story seemed to shift back and forth in time, and feel discontinuous, but, in a way, that added to the non-linear, non-traditional feel of the whole project. Let me add, this is not a kick-back experience; the movie demands a higher-than-normal level of attention so that you can actively engage with it by way of the remote.

But is there a future for interactive cinema? Viewers have gotten so sophisticated, Serrano explained, that interactive movies are the inevitable and adventurous next step. Maybe, but TV, movies, all art, is already interactive in the way it’s meant to engage the viewer, right? The problem — and it’s practically an epidemic — happens when we watch bad movies and TV, that require no interpretation, that are so predictable and non-challenging that they turn our brains to mush. That’s perhaps where interactive films can jump-start us, and turn us into active participants in the artistic process again. It’s a theory, anyway

Brilliantly atmospheric, beautifully and lyrically made, “Late Fragment” might’ve been a strong movie, even without the interactive element. As it stands, it could be the prototype for a new kind of narrative experience, that is, if the viewer is up for the challenge. My guess is we’ll be hearing a lot about this movie in the months ahead, as it premieres worldwide on DVD this June or July.


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About latefragment

Serrano Ana
(CFC Media Lab)


Three strangers, three lives — fractured by thoughts and acts of seething violence.

In the interactive feature film Late Fragment, you unravel their interlocked stories with a simple click.



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