East African in the near future in
East African in Seattle's near future in Auto J. Steven Schardt and Nathan M. Miller

Auto, a short virtual reality film directed by J. Steven Schardt late last year in Seattle, is one of 29 VR films featured in this year's Tribeca Film Festival. Auto was produced by Megan Griffiths (a Stranger genius) and Jennessa West (who produced Lane 1974, a feature by SJ Chiro that premiered at 2017 SXSW), and shot by Nathan M. Miller (who just won an award with Wes Hurley for directing the short doc Little Potato at SXSW), and follows a middle-aged East African "safety driver" who is dealing with the profound social changes brought on by self-driving cars. (Safety drivers simply mind cars, in much the same way that certain employees of supermarkets mind self-checkout machines.)

The film takes place in the near future, and is committed to the cyberpunk rule that the future does not come at once, but piece by piece. The Seattle in this work is both recognizable in and de-familiarized by the 360-degree immersion. It's also the best VR narrative film I have ever seen, and has the potential to become a classic of this new form of filmmaking.

Auto will screen at the Tribeca Film Festival from April 21 to April 29. Here's a list of showtimes.