The SCI-FI-LONDON FILM FESTIVAL 2017 will launch its astronomical 17th annual programme running from 27 April until 6 May 2017 across London with ten days of astounding film, amazing live music, immersive experiences and more. There are six world and 13 UK feature film premieres, along with 11 world and 13 UK short premieres. In total the festival will host 25 features, 51 shorts and 4 VR shorts alongside its regular classic cult events such as the 48 HOUR FILM CHALLENGE and for me the main event SCI-FIDO, the world’s only cosplay for dogs!
Opening this year’s festival on 27 April at the Rich Mix is the UK Premiere of Caught– a film that takes us back to the British Science fiction’s glory days, directed by Jamie Patterson (Fractured), written and produced by Alex Francis (Moon) and starring April Pearson, Mickey Sumner and Cian Berry. It’s the story of a ‘work-from-home’ journalist couple who invite a man and woman, called Mr & Mrs Blair, into their idyllic village home. But what begins with an informal interview descends into a nightmarish fight for survival.
The festival’s Closing Night on 6 May at Stratford Picturehouse and features the World Premiere of The Rizen directed by Matt Mitchell and Taliesyn Mitchell and starring Lee Latchford-Evans, Laura Swift, Tom Goodman-Hill, Adrian Edmondson and Sally Phillips. The year is 1955. NATO and the Allied Forces have been conducting secret, occult experiments in a bid to win the Arms Race. Now, they have finally succeeded but what the Army has unleashed threatens to tear our world apart. One woman must lead the only survivors past horrors that the military has no way to control – and fight to close what should never have been opened.
Other major Film Premiere Galas include:
The UK Premiere of Blue World Order directed by Ché Baker and Dallas Bland, starring Billy Zane, Stephen Hunter, Bruce Spence, Jack Thompson. Set in a post-apocalyptic world in which civilisation has crumbled, a massive electromagnetic pulse has killed all children on the planet, with the exception of Molly (Billie Rutherford), the daughter of Jake Slater (Jake Ryan). Mad Max msahed with Star Wars? Who knows but there is a desert car chase with seven DeLoreans.
Flora is the début for director Sasha Louis Vukovic, whose excellent cast deliver a refreshing take on the ‘monster-in-the-woods’ theme. Set in the spring of 1929 near the end of a golden age of exploration, an expedition of Ivy League University Botanists enter an uncharted forest on the North American frontier. Tasked to study the native flora, the students unearth a deadly organism and are soon in a fight with nature itself. I suspect that won’t end to well for some of them.
Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time Directed by Rob Taylor and starring David Ogden Stiers, Rob Taylor and Walter Koenig, looks like a cult film in the making. Set in the future, Stryker is a hardened Elite Forces agent famous for hunting and capturing his former mentor and villainous time-traveller, ‘The Mad Scientist’. Following a magnificent escape, the Mad Scientist rains down chaos on the city in a quest for revenge. Stryker must now race through time and do battle with goblins, robots, and ten-foot killer penguins in order to save the world and rescue his son from the clutches of his infamous former mentor. This sci-fi/comedy feature is a 1980s throwback where every set, every effect, every puppet was crafted by dedicated artists, some of whom might get time off for good behaviour!
Yesterday Last ‘Year is directed by Jeff Hanley and written by Adam Bradley, another time travelling feature with lots of loopholes and paradoxes. Sublimate, directed by Roger Armstrong and John Hickman, is based on a short film made for the SFL 48hr Challenge and is a raw, unflinching, nihilistic satire on twenty-first century life – a tale of idiocy, delusion and obsession. Love and Saucers, directed by Brad Abrahams, is a documentary exploring issues of time, space and fractured identity.
Unspeakable Horrors: the Plan 9 Conspiracy, directed by Jose Prendes, is a docu-film focussed on Ed Wood who in 1959 unleashed Plan 9 from Outer Space to an audience not yet ready to look beyond the limitations of budget to what was really being said in the film. The film received a remarkable amount of backlash that, not only ruined many a career (including Eddie’s), but gained the film the unwanted prize of ‘Worst Movie Ever Made’. This film attempts to set the record straight by highlighting the unspeakable horrors that Ed Wood was trying to shed a light on with the help of some of the genre’s best and brightest inducing: Joe Dante, Mick Garris, Fred Olen Ray, Brian Yuzna, and Larry Kraszewski and Scott Alexander (who wrote Tim Burton’s Ed Wood), among many others. “Remember, my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future” Criswell.
Other UK Premieres include: Space Detective directed by Antonio Llapur featuring galactic gangsters, interstellar visuals and an out of this world soundtrack; Domain about a deadly virus and directed by Nathaniel Atcheson and the darkly funny The Fitzroy, directed by Andrew Harmer, where in a post apocalyptic 1950s the Fitzroy Hotel is a derelict submarine beached just off Margate, and the last place for a traditional summer holiday.
The End of the Lonely Island directed by Ren Chao Wang from China is set against the backdrop of a deadly plague spreading across the Earth, the ‘Bi’an’ (“another shore”) project is humanity’s first interstellar exploration. The ‘Shenzhou 20’ starship has set off toward the Centaurus planetary system but now this scientific journey has become the last hope for human civilization. China is becoming known for producing effects-heavy action movies for the international market, but a few independent filmmakers are making superb high-concept science fiction, which is why the festival is excited to bring Ren Chao Wang’s début feature to the UK.
Worldwide film festival hit Occupants, directed by Russ Emanuel and starring Robert Picardo and Briana White is a thriller that puts a new twist on ‘found-footage’.
The Immigration Game, directed by Krystof Zlatnik is set in a Europe that has closed its borders to millions of refugees. Only Germany continues to offer citizenship so long as you survive a new TV show called “Immigration Game”. The show is a manhunt through Berlin where every citizen can become a Hunter to track down refugees and stop them from winning their priceless German citizenship. In 2017 the premise of this film could never happen right… Right?
Snowden, Assange, and even the Russians have ‘allegedly’ been putting leaked information online for a while now. When KAOS, a group of anonymous activists find some footage in a Snowden file that reveals the events surrounding the disappearance of four teenagers, they put it out there to try to get some answers. The Kaos Brief, directed by JP Mandarino also celebrates its UK Premiere.
The Last Scout, directed by Simon Phillips, will appeal to old-school Sci-fi enthusiasts. It is set in 2065 when Earth is rendered uninhabitable by war and humanity’s remaining survivors send a fleet of ships to different points in the galaxy in the hope of finding a new world.
Diverge, by US director James Morrison, follows the aftermath of a global pandemic when a survivor searches for ways to cure his wife of a deadly virus. Winner of the Siren Award for Best International Feature at the 2016 Lund Fantastic Film Festival.
Magellan, directed by Rob York, follows seasoned astronaut Roger Nelson who is picked to pilot a mission that will challenge his skills and test the life he leaves behind. After NASA picks up a trio of mysterious signals from within our solar system, Nelson is dispatched on a multi-year trip aboard the Magellan spacecraft to investigate the sources. What he discovers will change our understanding of science and our place in the universe.
On to the special events and there is a team up with the Science Museum’s Robots exhibition, to present a movie double-bill focusing on the world of artificial intelligence with A.I. and Ex Machina.
Screenwriter Darren Rapier and SCI-FI-LONDON’s Louis Savy will be hosting a Sci-fi SCREENWRITING WORKSHOP: ROBOTS & ROCKETS at the BFI at 10:30am on Sunday 30 April. It will take you through the process of creating a low-budget sci-fi screenplay, and provide a practical guide on how to choose the best ideas, then work them into a pitch, synopsis and script.
The festival will host electronic live music event from the future with KRAUTWERK at London’s Moth Club and Ramsgate Music Hall on the 5 and 6 May. For the first time, Eberhard Kranemann (Piss Off, Kraftwerk, Neu) and Harald Grosskopf (Synthesist, Ash Ra Tempel, Klaus Shulze) will transmit live their cosmic sonic visions of TODAY, TOMORROW & BEYOND.
SCI-FIDO – THE WORLD’S ONLY COSPLAY FOR DOGS EVENT returns again this year on Sat 29 April at Juju’s Bar, The Old Truman Brewery in association with ALL DOGS MATTER for the Crufts of Science fiction! Do you have a four-legged friend who likes to dress up as a sci-fi character? Or a pooch that looks like Princess Leia? Bring them along to our ‘dressed-up dog’ photo session!
R.I.S.E – A DYSTOPIAN VR EXPERIENCE will play out on Mon 1 May catering for our trumpocalyptic and brexited, post post-modern lives. Maybe the robots should rule?! But what if the malaise gets to them too? Who wants to work to survive when we have such wonderful technology at our fingertips? SCI-FI-LONDON and PsychFI have produced an immersive experience in VR to give you a taste of how our robot friends cope with their utopia. Developed by leading VR house, beLoudest, the experience will be available on IoS and Android for all good smartphones and will work in your lovely Google Cardboard or headset of choice.
Augmented, virtual, enhanced, trans or multimedia – it’s ‘mixed up’. A few brands have led the way – adding a VR thing here, an AR thing there – but does it really make any difference and does this usual corporate approach get to the audience in a way that makes them care? #HACKSTOCK: BEYOND 2017 on the 5 and 6 May at The Trampery in Old St brings creators, makers, disrupters, artists, musicians, hackers, developers and you together in one place to talk it, think it, do it and play with it. And it’s Free! There is every flavour of headset – from cardboard to HoloLens and a myriad of other toys to play with and discussions around the Talkaoke table. It’s informal, organic and not as arsey as this sounds! Like looking at the ocean, you think you know all about it… but underneath the surface there is a whole ecosystem we have hardly explored.
For the full line up visit the website: sci-fi-london.com #SFL17