March 29, 2011 at 6:03 PM ET
Movie critic Roger Ebert may believe that video games will never be able to deliver the high falutin' high art displayed by our finest films, but for the first time ever a video game is being allowed to join the prestigious cinematic ranks at the Tribeca Film Festival.
The Tribeca Film Festival — founded by actor Robert De Niro — announced Tuesday that the forthcoming Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game "L.A. Noire" will be given a special "interactive screening," followed by a question-and-answer session that focuses on the very busy crossroads where games and film meet.
Team Bondi and Rockstar Games (the makers of the famed "Grand Theft Auto" franchise) are developing "L.A. Noire" — an open-world crime thriller done in gritty, film noir style.
"L.A. Noire" launches on May 17 and is being touted as a first-of-its-kind video game, thanks not only to the unique facial capture technology the developers are using to make the digital actors look more realistic than ever, but also for the way it merges cinematic storytelling from the 1940s and 50s with some very modern crime-solving gameplay.
"What Rockstar and Team Bondi have accomplished with 'L.A. Noire' is nothing less than groundbreaking," Geoff Gilmore, Tribeca's Chief Creative Officer, said in a statement. "It's an invention of a new realm of storytelling that is part cinema, part gaming, and a whole new realm of narrative expression, interactivity, and immersion. We are poised on the edge of a new frontier."
As Rockstar has explained it, the game will give players "an unprecedented interactive experience" in which you play out the story of a young detective's rise to prominence in the LAPD. To do so, you'll have to solve historically inspired crimes in a fully-interactive recreation of 1947 Los Angeles.
The screening — which will show off one of the crime cases players must solve — will take place April 25 and will include a discussion about "the video game, the technology behind it, and narrative and action in this medium." (For more information and tickets, check out the site here.)
"We're thrilled that 'L.A. Noire' is being recognized by the Tribeca Film Festival in this way," said Sam Houser, founder of Rockstar Games, in a statement. "It's a real honor, and another step forward for interactive entertainment."
Indeed, those of us who've played games over the years have watched as video games and film have learned from each other and moved closer toward one another in both narrative and visual style. Rockstar's last game — the excellent "Red Dead Redemption" — gave us a fresh new take on a Wild West most of us know best from watching old Clint Eastwood and John Wayne films. And personally, I can't wait to see what they do with the film noir genre.
Certainly the Tribeca screening should help put a much-deserved spotlight on just how creative, stunning and, yes, even artistic modern video games can be.
One can only hope Ebert will be in attendance.
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