‘The Key,’ a VR story about dreams and refugees, wins Storyscapes prize at Tribeca

“The Key,” a surreal story with a real-world political message, has won the Storyscapes award at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival

That’s the festival’s juried award for immersive art. It comes with a $10,000 cash prize, which the creators say will be donated to the Friends of Refugees organizations.

I had a chance to experience “The Key” for myself last week, and it’s a unique story, starting with an exploration of the nameless narrator’s dreams, before connecting to an explicit message about the plight of refugees. The core experience takes place in virtual reality, through an Oculus headset, but participants begin by entering a room-size installation and interacting with a live actor.

I’m being a bit vague about the story to preserve some of the surprise for New Yorkers who might still get a chance to try out “The Key” at the Tribeca Virtual Arcade (which is open until tomorrow, May 4).

And for those of you who won’t get that chance, director Celine Tricart said in a statement that “this award will help us find venues to showcase The Key around the United States and abroad, delivering this important message to the public.”

“The Key” is narrated by Alia Shawkat, and was produced by Gloria Bradbury and Lucid Dreams Productions, in partnership with the Oculus VR for Good Creators Lab and Friends of Refugees. It made its world premiere at Tribeca.