(Venice) A giant octopus jumped in my face when I opened a page of this ingenious and very special book. A young woman was trying to avoid the tentacles of the monstrous mollusk. She was paddling like a damned, facing the swell in her canoe which rocked dangerously.

I sympathized with her. An hour’s vaporetto ride from the airport to the Venice lagoon reminded me on Tuesday afternoon that I don’t have sea legs despite my Gaspesian-Sicilian origins. I pitch in my head, despite the solid ground. Yeah, I know, you’re not pity me…

Paul Raphaël gave me a hand. Literally. He tilted the book I was holding flat in front of me, and the seawater of the story seemed to pour down all sides of the page. To say I was surprised would be an understatement.

Paul Raphaël is on site for the first time at the Venice International Film Festival, one of the first events of this scale to focus on virtual reality. Felix Studios

The augmented reality book project Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: The Seven Ravens – the one with the giant octopus and the “overflowing” page – had its world premiere on Tuesday. It was selected in competition in the Venice Immersive section, while the virtual reality film Space Explorers: Blue Marble-Orbit 1, also produced by Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël, was chosen among the 10 best “immersive experiences”, in this same part of the Mostra.

The Storyteller: The Seven Ravens, narrated by best-selling author Neil Gaiman, is an opportunity to unveil an all-new, innovative, state-of-the-art platform.

We discover a classic fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, revisited by the company Jim Henson (The Muppets). The story of Emma, ​​a brave young woman who goes on an adventure to free her seven brothers from an evil spell by which they have been transformed into crows. The tale may not be groundbreaking, but the way it is told certainly is.

We turn the pages after each sequence and it is as if the relief books of our childhood suddenly took on a whole new dimension. Thanks to augmented reality glasses, it is no longer cardboard houses that are erected, but a meticulously detailed universe that appears, with animated characters in full action.

We are sometimes plunged to the bottom of a well, sometimes discovering a secret through a keyhole, sometimes witnessing an epic scene around elements that are unleashed, balls of fire, waves of sea water or rays of ice, which can be observed from all possible angles. Never has a book been more spectacular.

Les studios Felix

“It’s a project that was ahead of its time, but it’s coming!” notes Paul Raphael. The idea in Venice is to show the promise of what it could be. We are in discussions with several studios, for a possible commercialization in the next two or three years, when there will be a fairly large market. »

In addition to The Storyteller: The Seven Ravens, the Blue Marble-Orbit 1 virtual reality experience is offered during the Mostra to visitors to the Creative Quebec stand on the immersive island of Venice, completely dedicated to virtual reality projects until the September 9.

Blue Marble-Orbit 1 allows, using a virtual reality headset, to observe the Earth in orbit from the International Space Station, thanks to a camera offering a 360-degree perspective, specially designed and manufactured for the occasion. I felt like I was floating in space, with the Earth rotating below my feet and infinity above my head, in a moving and calming meditation.

Les studios Felix

Paul Raphaël will participate in the Meet the Québec Creators event on September 2 at the Mostra. The studio he runs with Félix Lajeunesse has produced around thirty projects – and won a number of Emmy awards – notably with Cirque du Soleil and the couple Barack and Michelle Obama.

The 80th Venice Film Festival will highlight the work of not only Studios Felix

On the same day, director and actress Monia Chokri will offer a master class. And on September 3, a Quebec-Germany conversation is planned between directors Philippe Falardeau and Edward Berger (In the West, Nothing New).

Yannick Nézet-Séguin should also be on site at the Lido for Maestro, a biographical film on the famous conductor Leonard Bernstein, directed and interpreted by Bradley Cooper, in whom the Quebec maestro collaborated as a consultant in the direction of the orchestra and head of the soundtrack. La Bête by Bertrand Bonello, selected in official competition, was co-produced by Quebecers Xavier Dolan and Nancy Grant. Franco-Quebec actor Niels Schneider is in the cast of Woody Allen’s new film, Coup de chance, and Xavier Giannoli’s TV series, D’argent et de sang.

Humanist Vampire seeks suicidal consenting, the first feature film by Quebecer Ariane Louis-Seize, will be presented in the Venice Days section, as will Quitter la nuit, a co-production starring Anne Dorval, directed by Delphine Girard, a Belgian filmmaker born in Quebec.