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Watching the Future: Traversing the Other Worlds Austin Science Fiction Film Festival

 

The first weekend of December 2015 will see me travelling to other worlds without leaving the city limits of Austin.

The Other Worlds Austin film festival, inaugurated last year, was founded by Bears Fonte, who discovered a wealth of exceptional science fiction movies at the Austin Film Festival, for which he was director of programming from 2012 to 2014.  Upon leaving the Austin Film Festival, he decided to feature the work he found at a festival devoted exclusively to science fiction cinema.

The 2014 programming exhibited a wide array of strong movies, from the ruthlessly efficient postapocalyptic thriller The Well to the gritty time-travel noir exercise Time Lapse to the daft but amusing Space Milkshake.  Then there were genuine gems like The Perfect 46, which asked what would happen when you crossed Gattaca with Facebook.  While some of the movies didn’t quite work for me, others actually offered a degree of intelligence and daring not found in most major blockbusters.

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2015 may turn out to be another banner year for the festival, with even more intriguing entries, which I’m listing below.

I hope to see everyone there.


Thursday, December 3rd

7:42PM OPENING NIGHT: BOY 7 (US PREMIERE)

Özgür Yildirim | Germany | 110 min

Sam wakes up in the middle of the tracks of a subway tunnel. He can’t remember his name or how he got there. When he sees himself on a wanted picture, he realizes that his life is in extreme danger and his pursuers are hot on his heels. Unexpectedly, he finds a diary written in his own handwriting, and it seems to be the key to everything. When a young woman appears, who has the same burn as him on her left hand, a dangerous journey into thepast begins. BOY 7 is a SciFi RUN LOLA RUN, an adrenaline dash through a dystopian society where juvenile delinquents are recruited by the government for their particular ‘skills.’ An adaptation of a best-selling young adult novel that made its World Premiere at Fantasia in Montreal.

10:00PM SHORTS PROGRAM 1 – IN THE SHADOW OF OUR CREATIONS

Legacy

Josh Mawer | Australia | 14 min

To save his father’s brilliant mind, a young man is coerced into time-sharing his consciousness. With two minds in one body, boundaries and relationships start to blur.

Replika

Writers: Klaus Pas, Luc Walpoth

Forced to terminate her only daughter, a dysfunctional 13-year-old android, a loving mother tries to convince her husband to adopt a human child. But in a materialistic and functional world, safety takes precedence over emotions.

The Pig Child

Lucy Campbell | UK | 17 min

A female scientist working in embryology carries out an illegal surrogacy using her own body, part human and part pig. Discovering that she is carrying a “pig child,” she is torn between her scientific drive and maternalistic urges.

Artifitial

David Pérez Sañudo | Spain | 20 min

Xabier goes for a job interview. But the company CORPSA is ready to make him an offer of more than just a job. And they won’t take no for an answer.

Iris

Richard Karpala | USA | 11 min

A man uses his smart phone to assist in burying a dead body.

10:15 PM CURTAIN (TX PREMIERE)

Jaron Henrie-McCrea | USA | 73 min

Danni leaves nursing for a simpler life. But when her shower curtain keeps disappearing through a mysterious portal in her bathroom, she cannot let the investigation go. Enlisting the help of her Save-the-Whales co-worker, she dives into the unknown in an unsettling horror comedy that will flush the SciFi fan out with equal parts laughter and screams.


Friday, December 4th

5:30 PM RECONNOITER (TX PREMIERE)

Neil Rowe | USA | 80 min

Scientists have perfected a way to send a vessel across the galaxy quickly, teleporting a spaceship essentially to the nearest habitable planet. When the mission goes awry and the pilot crashes on the planet, he finds a world mysteriously devoid of life… but filled with dangerous robots ready to eliminate the alien interloper. Can he survive long enough to get a message back home?

6:00PM SHORTS PROGRAM 2 – THE GRIND

Happy Fun Room

Greg Pak | USA | 14 min

The host of a once-popular children’s television show clashes with her child co-stars, recalcitrant crew, and unsupportive studio execs, unwilling to acknowledge the changing world.

Fragment

Noah Griffith | USA | 10 min

An Air Force jet breaks up over the desert. A mysterious radio signal draws the pilot away from the crash site. A discovery is waiting. And it is not of this Earth.

The Taker

Maximillian Stenstrom | USA | 15 min

A government worker questions his responsibilities – endangering both himself and the world at large.

Viv 1.0 or They Must Have Forgotten

Scarlet Moreno | USA | 9 min

One day in the life of ‘the perfect woman.’

Yo Soy Pedro

Jordan Inconstant | France | 11 min

Two cops encounter a mysterious visitor, so they assume he must be a film actor.

Pact

Zach Endres | USA | 8 min

Two loners contemplate ending their lives for the sake of an overpopulated Earth.

Aden

Gary H. Lee | USA | 11 min

A man stays one step ahead of nefarious forces in the race to find a child who may hold the key to mankind’s future.

7:45/8:15PM CENTERPIECE FILM: NO MEN BEYOND THIS POINT (TX PREMIERE)

Mark Sawers | Canada | 80 min

An alternate history deadpan mockumentary following 37-year-old Andrew Myers, the youngest man still alive. With women able to reproduce without men since 1953, they’ve stopped giving birth to male babies entirely. Working as a housekeeper for a family of women, Andrew finds himself at the center of a battle to prevent men from going extinct. Men have gathered onto reservations, and the idea of a romantic relationship with one would be laughable. is brilliant, politically-charged lm that just made its North American premiere at TIFF asks: what would the world be like if women were in charge?

Roadside Assistance

Bears Fonté | USA | 7 min

Writer: Bears Fonté

A mysterious woman stranded by the side of the road hitches a ride with a passing stranger – neither of them is who they seem.

10:15PM PROJET-M (AUSTIN PREMIERE)

Eric Piccoli | Canada | 98 min

Orbiting the Earth aboard a space station for 1,000 days to prepare for a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa, four astronauts face unforeseen crises when a war breaks out on Earth below. Arguing whether to break off their mission, or what to do about the loss of communication from headquarters, or what to do about the other satellites orbiting the Earth, the team nds themselves more alone than they could have prepared for.

10:30PM OTHER HALVES (TEXAS PREMIERE)

Matthew T. Price | USA | 87 min

On the night before its launch, a revolutionary dating app may have a few glitches – namely causing the user to lose all self-control and become an amoral, lascivious, violent follower of their most immediate urges. The logical end-product to society’s will to leave more and more decisions to technology, and to predictive logarithms that know us better than we know ourselves, OTHER HALVES would like to introduce you to the future of finding yourself. Hope you like what you see!


Saturday, December 5th

12:30PM T.I.M. THE INCREDIBLE MACHINE (TEXAS PREMIERE)

Rolf van Eijk | Netherlands | 82 min

Eleven-year-old Tibor has only one friend: his ancient house robot T.I.M. When his dad decides to replace the robot, Tibor saves his buddy from demolition. A hiccup in the robot’s memory log reveals he may have once been owned by the mythical robot inventor Hector Sammler, and this could be the key to having T.I.M. repaired. Robot and boy set off on a quest – a road trip into the past.

12:30PM VINTAGE TOMORROWS (TEXAS PREMIERE)

Byrd McDonald | USA | 67 min

Can an imagined version of the past teach us anything about the future? Examining the explosive growth of Steampunk, its origins, its cultural significance, and some of the makers and thinkers behind it, VINTAGE TOMORROWS shines a directional lantern on the playful visions of yesteryear, through the goggles of a future unrealized. Bowler hats and monocles optional.

2:45PM JACKRABBIT (AUSTIN PREMIERE)

Carleton Ranney | USA | 100 min

In the not-too-distant future, two hackers negotiate the dystopian City Six, one of the last vestiges of humanity after ‘The Reset.’ When a friend’s suicide leaves behind a mysterious computer drive, they must work together to decipher his final message. JACKRABBIT, a love letter to vintage gaming and computing, debuted at Tribeca and was a 2014 Austin Film Society Grant Recipient. Director Ranney was actually born and raised in Austin (does such a thing exist?)

5:00PM HOUSE OF TIME (US PREMIERE)

Jonathan Helpert | France | 86 min

Robert d’Eglantine has uncovered secret Nazi scientific research on time travel. He tells his guests he has taken them seventy years back in time, to 1944, during the French Occupation and only few weeks before the landing in Normandy. Although the house and everything inside seem the same, the appearance of a woman in the French Resistance, on the run from her Nazi captors, make them question if Robert may just be telling the truth. Or is the woman just an actress? Or was she an actress before the occupation and now a revolutionary?

Traveler

Simon Brown | USA | 5 min

When Blake’s invention successfully transports his girlfriend across the universe, there’s only one problem – what happens when she returns?

5:15PM SHORTS PROGRAM 3 – BACK TO THE FUTURE (OR THE POWER OF LOVE)

ON/OFF

Thierry Lorenzi | France | 13 min

Obsessed with a mysterious voice message, astronaut Meredith must face its paradoxical condition in order to stay connected to her humanity.

The Blood of Love

Jeff Meyers | USA | 19 min

A young woman goes out on the town each night to deal with the recent death of her husband.

Remote Viewing

Kristen Anderson-Sauve | Canada | 10 min

A group of UFO enthusiasts attempt to lure a UFO to their campsite. Unfortunately, not everyone is there for the same reason.

Starlight

Andrew Salerno | USA | 10 min

On board a mission to a distant planet, Officer Emma Fremont discovers that her crew has been asked to leave more than just the Earth behind.

Transference

Matthew Ninaber | Canada | 9 min

A father’s last words tell a cryptic tale of what the future may hold for his uniquely gifted children.

The Trap

Dick Grunert | USA | 6 min

A man invites his friend over one night to show off his latest invention.

The Surface

Willem Kampenhout | USA | 20 min

Liz must go to the one place she dare not go in order to save her son’s life: the blighted surface of the old world.

8:15 CLOSING NIGHT FILM: EMBERS (TEXAS PREMIERE)

Claire Carré | USA | 86 min

The world has moved on. In the wake of a global neurological epidemic, those who remain search for meaning and connection in a world without memory. Five interwoven stories explore life without recollection in a future that has no past. A boy longs for a role model, a young man embraces his rage, a teacher hunts for a cure, a couple clings to each other desperate to preserve their feelings, and a young woman wants nothing more than to forget. Filled with intense performances and breathtaking cinematography, this is the rare science fiction film that excels in its lack of exposition. An atmospheric tone poem in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, EMBERS captures the human condition, stripped away of everything but personality and instinct.

10:00PM POLDER (TEXAS PREMIERE)

Julian M. Grünthal, Samuel Schwarz | Switzerland | 95 min

Gaming company NEUROO-X is set to release a new gadget, the Red Book, which promises to scan the most secret longings of gamers and transform them into fantastic adventures. When Marcus, its Chief Development Manager, mysteriously dies before its completion, his lover Ryuko searches inside the game for clues. The deeper she enters the digital world, the more she rewrites NEUROO-X’s programmed narrative, disappearing into a parallel world of demons, witches, knights, and terrorists.

10:15PM NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEB (TX PREMIERE)

Kyle Rankin | USA | 86 min

Thirty-something single gal Deb holds a terrible track record with men until she wakes up on the Fourth of July in the apartment of the most attractive man she’s ever seen. Unfortunately neither she nor Ryan can explain exactly why they spent the night together. Also there is a zombie apocalypse happening outside. Walk of shame turns to run for your life in this rom-com/zom-com.


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