DAILY NEWS Nov 5, 2013 1:48 PM - 0 comments

Interactive NFB Doc Tackles Oil Sands Development

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The fate of the world’s largest energy project is in your hands.

Or it will be virtually, with the planned November 25 launch of Fort McMoney, a new interactive documentary-cum-multiplayer game from the National Film Board of Canada. The gaming doc has been in a preview mode since the producers made their first announcement, and an online trailer helped promote the launch.

Created by filmmaker and documentarian David Dufresne following over two years of research, 60 days of filming and 55 interviews, Fort McMoney is a trilingual (English, French and German) immersive online experience set in Fort McMurraysometimes called “Fort McMoney”an Albertan boom town that is going to play a critical role in determining the energy future of the planet.

Viewers, users and players will have the power to decide the virtual future of the city while learning more about its social, economic, political and cultural history in order to better understand what’s at stake.

Canada’s oil sands are the third largest oil reserves on the planet. But it’s oil that comes with an environmental cost, accounting for seven percent of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

“It was obvious to us from the first shoot that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper got it right when he said these oils sands were truly ‘an enterprise of epic proportions.’ That magnitude inspired us to create a wild narrative, blending the video game experience with the documentary approach. The landscape guided the choices we made in crafting this exploration of Fort McMurray that is on par with its development: boundless,” said Dufresne.

Fort McMoney will launch at the prestigious International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam on November 25. Prelaunch events will be taking place on November 18 in Paris at the Forum des Images, followed by public events in Montreal at the Montreal International Documentary Festival (Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal) on November 20, and in Toronto at the Planet in Focus (PIF) Environmental Film Festival on November 22.

Film creator Dufresne will be on hand to lead audience participants in a hands-on experience with the McMoney interactive documentary game as part of PIF Industry Day taking place on Friday, November 22, 2013.

Fort McMoney gives users the opportunity to make up their own minds about the topics it raises, through access to a painstakingly researched documentary, testimony from residents and other interested parties, facts, interviews, and video clips, as well as a map of oil extraction sites in Fort McMurray.

With all this information at their fingertips, people will be able to make decisions related to economics, politics, and environmental and social issues, and the choices they make will influence the story. Fort McMoney has been designed to accommodate all levels of interactive involvement; from web skimmers to documentary fanatics, from novices to hard-core gamers—and each player experience is unique.

Every week for four weeks, users will have the opportunity to explore the city through the lens of a different theme. They’ll be able to virtually walk through Fort McMurray, meet its residents, ask them questions, make decisions, and see how their choices play out.

Each week will end with a referendum whose results will affect the course of the game. Users will be able to put forward their views and do their best to convince other players to see things their way.

Fort McMoney is being presented in partnership with The Globe and Mail and Radio-Canada. The game will be available on the globeandmail.com and radio-canada.ca as well as at fortmcmoney.com. International media partners include Le Monde and Süddeutsche.de.

The Globe and Mail has covered Fort McMurray for quite some time so we are delighted to be a presenting partner of Fort McMoney,” said John Stackhouse, editor-in-chief of The Globe and Mail. “The region presents a very complex challenge for Canada. We look forward to interacting with players and to the viewpoints that will arise from this unique form of storytelling.”

“We are proud to be participating in this interactive documentary game, a new way of telling stories while simultaneously addressing a very timely topic. The project is truly innovative since it combines gaming and social issues and lets Internet users influence the prosperity of an industrial city as well as the consequences of its development. This interactive experience is entertaining from the start and deals with economic, social and environmental issues that are of concern to us all,” explained Jérôme Hellio, Director of Internet Content at Radio-Canada.

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