From October 19–23, The Ritz Cinema, Randwick , will host The 2016 Sci-Fi Film Festival, serving up a feast of speculative delights for the discerning genre fan. Over five days, the festival will showcase the best and most innovative new SF features and shorts from around the world.
Opening night sees the Australian premiere of Equals, from acclaimed director, Drake Doremus. Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult star as two people who unexpectedly become able to feel emotions in a sterile dystopia where such things are not only forbidden, but unknown. Jacki Weaver and Guy Pearce co-star in this think-piece, while SF legend Ridley Scott serves as executive producer.
Making its only big-screen appearance in Australia, The Purge: Election Year is the third installment in the cult franchise whose brilliant central conceit sees a future society where one day a year citizens are allowed to break the law. In the latest film, our hero (Frank Grillo) must protect a Presidential candidate targeted for death on Purge night.
Rupture puts forth the tried and tested combination of sci-fi and horror, with singular director Steven Shainberg (Secretary, Fur: An Imaginary Portrait Of Diane Arbus) returning after a ten-year hiatus with this story of a mother (Noomi Rapace) kidnapped by a secret organisation intent on turning her into a monster. Michael Chiklis, Kerry Bishe, Peter Stormare and Lesley Manville co-star.
Mexico’s most exciting young filmmaker Isaac Ezban brings The Similars, the story of a rainy night in 1968 and a group of disparate people stuck at a bus depot that quickly takes a turn for the surreal and disturbing. The Similars will be presented at a late night session as befits this future cult film, and will be followed by a Skype interview with the filmmaker direct from Mexico.
This Giant Papier Mache Boulder Is Actually Really Heavy is not only a contender for the longest film title of all time but it is also a lovingly made New Zealand indie which won Best Comedy at the London and Boston Sci-Fi Film Festivals, Best Sci-Fi Film at Gencon and Best Independent Film at Starburst. Appropriate for its tongue-in-cheek story of three lads who are transported to a ‘50s sci-fi movie when they enter a booth at a fan convention, patrons will be encouraged to cosplay at this late night screening. Lead actor, co-writer and director Christian Nicolson will be flying in from New Zealand for the screening and will take part in a post-film Q&A.
The more intelligent, meditative answer to the bombastic feel-good blast of The Martian, Approaching The Unknown ingeniously puts the science back in science fiction. Written and directed by debutante, Mark Elijah Rosenberg, this exercise in controlled tension follows Mark Strong’s astronaut, Captain William Stanaforth, who hurtles alone through space on a one-way mission to Mars, where he will activate a reactor that can turn soil into drinking water, thus making the planet inhabitable for future human colonisation. As deeply human as it is tech-savvy, Approaching The Unknown is an extraordinary sci-fi journey.
Also just announced is a special 2K remastered screening of director Nicholas Meyer’s cut of the immortal Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan. Long acknowledged as the best of all the Star Trek films, Star Trek II: Wrath Of Khan reinvigorated the moribund franchise, and is arguably the key work responsible for the continued popularity of the Star Trek brand today. In a nice bit of synchronicity, Star Trek II screens immediately after For The Love Of Spock, Adam Nimoy’s touching documentary about the life and influence of his late father Leonard, better known as Star Trek’s Mr. Spock.
Luke Scott’s steely, speculative thriller, Morgan, will close out The 2016 Sci-Fi Film Festival. Starring Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rose Leslie, Paul Giamatti, Toby Jones, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Michelle Yeoh, Morgan is a chilly, provocative, cerebral combination of science fiction and horror that proves that fist time feature director, Scott, has the same genre chops as his famous father, Sir Ridley Scott.
The 2016 Festival is also hosting two very special free events at The AFTRS Theatre on Saturday, October 22. First, “The Upcoming Australian Film Showcase” lets fans engage with the creators of three upcoming Australian SF films: The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume One, Blue World Order, and Space/Time. Filmmakers will screen clips from their works and participate in an audience Q&A session. Following that is an early advanced look at Cerulean, a boundary-pushing comic book, TV series, and feature film, from concept illustrator, Tani Kunitake (The Matrix, Avengers, Star Wars) and performer, Dani Swan.
The festival has also announced the two short film festival programs which will run on Saturday and Sunday, bringing together the brightest and newest explorations of the possible from around the world.
SCI-FI SHORT FILM SESSION 1
Lockbox 1:26mins (UK)
A loving mechanical puppet looks for a way to save his makers business through the ultimate sacrifice. Director: Peter Cotter
Voyager 9:30mins (France)
Sent in 1977, the Voyager Golden Record was intended to introduce humanity to possible beings in outer space. But centuries later, Voyager is back on Earth. A little girl who lives alone in a destroyed town finds the space probe, uncovering music, pictures of nature, and past humanity. Director: Loic Magar, Roman Veiga
Worlds Apart 17:00mins (Australia)
A World War Two English soldier wakes from a coma to find a mysterious old man sharing his hospital room. Director: Timothy Wade
Signature Tune 5:57mins (Australia)
There is nowhere to hide from despair when the heartbreak of reality breaks the barrier to the dream-world, in this exploration of a tortured subconscious. Director: Josef Arbiv
Lazyboy 11:30mins (Australia)
Ray discovers his La-Z-Boy recliner is a one-minute time machine. Will he learn from his mistakes, or is he destined to repeat them forever? Director: Dave Redman
Can You Decide 4:55mins (Italy)
This is the official music video of the track “Can You Decide” written by the Manchester (UK) singer/songwriter, Jon Kenzie. The video tells a story of a lonely robot musician who is struggling between the desire to travel and play music throughout the galaxy or go back home to be with the one he loves. Director: Lu Pulici
Dimensions 4:40mins (UK)
A large scale adventure through alternate dimensions featuring a grumpy scientist, his hyperactive daughter, and a gormless chicken. Director: Andy James
IM Perfect 6:36mins (Hungary)
In 2046, a young woman dates a handsome guy who has some weird plans with their hands. Director: Zsuzsanna Koszti
Chronos 11:00mins (Slovakia)
A troubled old businessman finds himself looking at the world upside down through a hotel room where time runs backwards. Director: Martin Kasimir
True Copy 11:11mins (Russian Federation)
Igor’s uncontrolled transformations into other people force him to turn to the only person able to stop this… Director: Olga Belva
Sanctioned 17:51mins (Cyprus)
In a dystopian future, it is legal to murder someone providing that you have legally applied to The Ministry Of Sanctioned Homicide to be given legal authorisation to do so. Elias visits the Ministry to apply to kill one of his parents. Director: Harry Ayiotis
SCI-FI SHORT FILM SESSION 2
The Light Eater 12:00mins (Luxembourg)
Today is Light Eater’s very first day of school. Light Eater has to sort things out on his own. Since his father passed away, his mother hasn’t been able to overcome her sorrow and has turned away from her son. Since this day, Light Eater has been burdened by a curse: when he opens his mouth to speak, he swallows the light around him.
The Last Journey Of The Enigmatic Paul W.R. 18:00mins (France)
The red moon threatens our existence on earth. Our only hope is the enigmatic Paul WR, the most talented astronaut of its generation. But a few hours before the start of the Great mission, Paul disappeared. The one that the whole world considers as a hero hides in fact a terrible secret: since his youngest age, Paul W.R hears our thoughts.
ZONA-84 15:25mins (Spain)
ZONA-84 is a futurist short movie set in a post-apocalyptic Barcelona. The mood of social criticism is related to the abuse of power which controls the earth essential resources. Director: Lonan Garcia
Waste Of Time 7:00mins (Australia)
John hasn’t left his bedroom in 10 years. Today he could, in a Time Machine. Director: Ben Nicholas
F Meat 17:20mins (Australia)
When The CEO of a synthetic meat empire reveals his product is secretly grown from human flesh, he must use extreme measures to persuade his morally opposed successor to save his legacy and the starving masses. Director: Sean Bell
Midnight Snack 2:00mins (Australia)
A book of spells and a late night craving. What could possibly go wrong? Director: Jeremy Kelly-Bakker
The Garden 13:36mins (USA)
In the Garden, humans get converted into A.I. constructs to survive. But Luc – a rebellious ballerina – would rather die than conform. When in 2089 humans become an out-of-date concept, the only way to survive is to integrate into A.I. constructs. Yet Luc—a rebellious ballerina—would rather die than conform. But when she meets an odd robot Azul, the idea of integrating into a better version of herself suddenly sounds tempting. Director: Natalia Lyudin
Johnny Clegg – Take My Heart Away 5:20mins (South Africa)
The story follows a young South African boy, Lindo, who lives in an informal settlement that borders an international spaceflight launch site. Lindo is infatuated with space travel, his hideout in-between is filled with articles and old books on space travel, as well as drawings and pictures of rockets and spaceships. His dream is to fly amongst the stars, far away from his destitute township life. One day, Lindo sees an opportunity to sneak on board a space shuttle as a stowaway. Director: Jaron Clegg
Reversal 15:30mins (USA)
An aging inventor with questionable sanity is determined to prevent his wife’s murder. His method: a 16mm film projector. Director: Michael Lippert
The 2016 Sci-Fi Film Festival runs at The Ritz Cinema, Randwick from October 19–23. For tickets and session times, head through to the official site. To purchase a special VIP AAA Pass for the entire festival, click here.