This fall ZenFri collaborated with fellow Winnipeg-based interactive developer, Bit Space Development, to create a historical city-sized Augmented Reality scavenger hunt app called “Cinémental 25” for the Cinémental film festival’s 25th anniversary.Cinémental 25 Logo

The app was something of an experiment for us to see if we could create a big augmented reality experience on a tight budget, while also exploring if a concept like this could drive users to new locations and help them gain better understanding and appreciation of their surroundings.

ZenFri provided the design, writing, some of the art, and managed the project, while Bit Space provided development services and collaborated on the art.


View of Winnipeg’s Downtown from Saint Boniface

Dan and Corey

The resulting App garnered a ton of local attention, and has led to further collaborations between Bit Space and ZenFri. In this update we’ll provide some details about the Cinémental 25 App, how it works and the coverage it garnered.

But first, we’ve embedded a “developer walkthrough” that provides a rundown of how the app worked during the festival.

About the App

The concept for this app was simple, blend all the elements you’d expect from a festival app (such as event schedule, where to buy tickets and an event map) with an innovative location-based augmented reality game.

Users would navigate around the city using the in-app map to hunt down 25+ specially designed augmented reality “game posters.” Each game poster would be tied to a location that fit within the festival’s history, with the core 25 posters each representing a specific festival year. In addition to a poster for each festival year, an array of bonus posters provided deep dives into behind-the-scene stories and other interesting historical facts.

Primary Experience Flow

Locations that agreed to participate in the festival ranged widely from the Saint Boniface Cathedral, Le Liberté and CBC Manitoba to Portage Place shopping center. The app even included many of Saint Boniface’s most important landmarks such as Esplanade Riel, the Saint Boniface Museum, Gabrielle Roy HouseCentre Culturel Franco-Manitobain and the University of Saint Boniface, while also including something of a mini-tour of the local film industry with locations of local offices of the National Film BoardLes Productions Rivard, Buffalo Gal Pictures, daCapo, and On Screen Manitoba all represented.

The diversity and breadth of businesses and organizations that were involved in the app really speaks to how much support there is in Winnipeg for the long running Cinémental film festival.

Esplanade Riel Poster

Poster at Mon Ami Louis Restaurant on the Esplanade Riel


CBC Manitoba

Poster at CBC Manitoba HQ


Inside Saint Boniface Cathedral

Poster inside Saint Boniface Cathedral


Gabrielle Roy House

Poster at Gabrielle Roy House


Once a poster is found, users could scan to reveal a historic poster or image from the festival in Augmented Reality which unlocked an in-depth history related to a given festival year and the location representing that year.

This history was written in-house by ZenFri after doing in-depth research about the festival and Franco-Manitoban history. We found this history to be extremely fascinating, which is why by the time we finished development of the App we had produced over 50 (English) written pages of history.

Our hope is that this history, once unlocked, will be cherished forever as a digital history book chronically the Cinémental film festival.

Ultimately, we saw the Cinémental 25 app as a storytelling experience, where the context of place merges with a sense of history. Seeing images in a book or in a video is one thing, but physically being at the places where history unfolded while learning about that history offers another level of immersive understanding.

While the game posters were only deployed during the festival for 3 weeks in October 2016, we’ve put together a digital booklet with all the posters from the event alongside images from each location in an attempt to recreate how the app was intended to be used for anyone interested.

So for those who missed the event, live outside of Winnipeg or simply couldn’t unlock all the history in time, you can grab the .PDF containing all the posters here or from within the app.

1999 Booklet Page

Sample Page from PDF Booklet


What as perhaps most surprising for us about the app was the amount of coverage it received from local news organizations. While we’d always intended to try and bring attention to the app and worked with Cinémental’s PR to have as much impact as possible, coverage for the app exceeded our expectations and helped bring additional attention to the festival, while also highlighting what we could do on the scale of a local festival or event.

Corey on CTV discussing Cinémental 25 App

Image from CTV Morning Live Winnipeg


ICI Manitoba

Image from ICI Manitoba


Metro Image

Image from Metro Winnipeg


Metro Cover

Here’s a full list of the coverage the App received:

Thanks to the Festival Organizers

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the Cinémental Board of Directors who took a risk on an unconventional app idea and trusted us to execute it. Their team of volunteers was extremely generous, making sure we got the history right and translated our text to French. They even invited us to join them at the festival, which as a company built by film students, we accepted enthusiastically.

So for all the above and more, we’d like to take this moment to thank them.

We put a ton of work into this app, and though it was created in a short amount of time and on a tight budget, it still managed to generate a lot of buzz by presenting a large city-sized experience.

It’s an experience that showcased the festival’s community footprint in real terms and is something we’re very proud to have been a part of.