Sci-Fi London Film Festival, which opens May 31st, is loaded with speculative cinema and otherworldly occurrences. Following is the official press announcement.
Today the SCI-FI-LONDON FILM FESTIVAL 2023 launches its cosmic 23rd annual programme, which will run from Wednesday 31st May until Tuesday 6th June with seven days of fantastic film. It will showcase a fabulous line-up with 2 World Premieres, 10 UK Premieres, 6 World Short Premieres and 13 UK Short Premieres. Alongside the festival is also doing a classic screening of Peter Watkins’ THE WAR GAME with a live score!
Opening this year’s festival on 31 May is the UK premiere of the exciting Swedish blockbuster, UFO SWEDEN by Victor Danell.
It’s 1996, and a group of misfits in Norrköping spend their time investigating UFO sightings in Sweden. They debunk 99 per cent of the claims, but the remaining one per cent fuels their passion.
Denise, a rebellious teenager whose father founded the group – and was supposedly abducted by aliens in the 80s – seeks their help to uncover the truth about her father’s disappearance. Discovering her father’s secret archives sheds new light on the mystery but there are forces that want to keep the information very hidden.
UFO SWEDEN has a great script, impressive effects, and a brilliantly realised ’90s blockbuster feel; the lovechild of THE X-FILES and STRANGER THINGS.
The festival’s Closing Night on Tuesday 6th June at Rich Mix in Shoreditch, is the UK Premiere of THE BYSTANDERS, directed by Gabriel Foster Prior.
Ever wondered why shit happens to you despite your best efforts? Well, it might just be The Bystanders, screwing with your life because they are bored. Bystanders are invisible immortals supposed to act like guardian angels. Each Bystander is tasked with watching a human, but they have been recruited from the human world and are mostly bitter people with no friends; a bunch of misfits and loners.
Into this comes new recruit Pete. He is being shown the ropes by his world-weary tutor Frank, who is mostly irritated by their subjects, and for fun suggests they swap their charges.
Starring comic Seann Walsh, and a brilliant cast of upcoming comedians and actors, including Scott Haran & Georgia Mabel Clarke. This is a superb sci-fi satire of modern life. Imagine THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU as an Ealing comedy.
Other major Premiere Galas this year include the World Premiere of OZMA.
(Dir: Keith John Adams. Country: UK. Year: 2023. Runtime: 81 mins. Language: English.)
One night after another restless sleep Jeff, an insomniac haunted by the loss of his wife, discovers an alien jellyfish-like creature in the alley by his house. The creature communicates telepathically and persuades the reluctant Jeff to help it hide from the hostile forces on its trail.
With themes of loss, memory and meaning, this monochromatic film mixes experimental elements with nods to silent film, film noir and schlocky 1950s B-movies. It’s a dreamy film, its atmosphere heightened by the frequent appearance of musicians who provide a live musical commentary to the action.
Stars: Ferdy Roberts, Eva Magyar, Victoria Moseley & Jun Noh
THE GREAT GLITCH/CHILDREN OF PARADISE (WORLD PREMIERE)
(Dir: Søren Peter Langkjær Bojsen. Country: Denmark. Year: 2023. Runtime: 96 mins. Language: Danish )
Summer in Copenhagen. Best friends Ronja and Serb are restless souls in their mid-twenties struggling to navigate life. As one joins a secret activist network, and the other falls in love with a mysterious girl, a series of increasingly unlikely events unfold, and the line between reality and fiction begins to erode. Timelines diverge and doppelgängers appear out of nowhere in an endless array of bright summer nights, where everyone is equally chasing euphoria and trying to find meaning.
“The Great Glitch / Children of Paradise” is an otherworldly film about the time in life when strangers turn into friends, friends into lovers, and lovers mysteriously disappear in the middle of the night.
Stars: Joos Støvelbæk, Lukas Gregory & Leonora Saabye
PHI 1.618 (UK PREMIERE)
(Dir: Theodore Ushev. Country: Bulgaria. Year: 2022. Runtime: 92 mins. Language: Bulgarian (English Subtitles)
Worldwide film festivals favourite, Theodore Ushev’s début feature film is quite remarkable.
In a dystopian, punk future, a woman disrupts the world of a new breed of loveless, immortal men. Krypton, engineered to embody the golden ratio, Phi 1.618, lives amidst these men but plans to escape Earth’s toxicity on a massive spaceship, and colonise the universe. Women are deemed obsolete since immortal men do not procreate, except for one Sleeping Beauty preserved as a relic of the past. As Krypton is destroying the world’s books, an outrageous creature is born, a woman called Gargara.
Gargara defies explanation and leads Krypton to question the plan. Gargara challenges him to awaken Sleeping Beauty and rescue the fairytale from turning into a nightmare.
Ushev, well-known for his outstanding animations, delivers a feature that is a mix of animation, live action and rich imagery. It’s a rewarding intellectual and aesthetic experience with countless visual and cultural references.
Stars: Martina Apostolova, Deyan Donkov & Vasil Duev
DEEP ASTRONOMY AND THE ROMANTIC SCIENCES
(Dir: Cory McAbee. Country: USA. Year: 2022. Runtime: 71 mins. Language: English )
Director Cory McAbee joins us for the UK Premiere of his latest project.
In a crowded nightclub, Grace sits alone at a table, her movements unusually mechanical. She is a robot in disguise. Rudy, a young man, decides to strike up a conversation with the unusual woman.
Grace proves to be more informative than inquisitive, drawing Rudy into a discussion about the history of the Romantic Sciences. As an expert and product of the field, she shares stories about lectures and performances given by various Romantic Scientists. Her topics range from time travel and multiple dimensions to the colonisation of other planets and human waste disposal.
Grace’s unique ability to scan social media and wireless communications allows her to address complex ideas such as truth vs. fact, the real vs. the imagined, and what it means to be human.
This film has been developed in part through the Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier Story Lab.
Stars: Cory McAbee, Rudy Dejesus, Meredith Adelaide & Craig Anton
ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE FUTURE: 2121
(Dir: Serpil Altin. Country: Turkey. Year: 2022. Runtime: 92 mins. Language: Turkish (English Subtitles))
The Earth’s surface has become uninhabitable due to climate crises and famine. Family units exist in underground homes run by a strict authoritarian regime. Population numbers are closely controlled and the ‘Scarcity Laws’ state that older generations must be destroyed in exchange for new lives.
The life of a family of four composed of a wife, husband, child, and grandmother, is threatened by the impending arrival of a baby.
A witty take on Orwell’s “1984” or “Logan’s Run”, 2121 is Altin’s début feature, and announces her as the first woman in Turkey to have made a science-fiction film.
Stars: Sukeyna Kiliç, Aysenil Samlioglu & Selen Öztürk
THE WARM SEASON
(Dir: Janet Grillo. Country: USA. Year: 2022. Runtime: 103 mins. Language: English)
In 1967, 12-year-old Clive is playing in the New Mexican desert behind her family’s remote motel, when Mann suddenly appears claiming to be from a dying planet and searching for a new home for his kind. With the authorities closing in on him, Mann leaves a glowing orb with Clive, imploring her to conceal it and assuring her that he’ll return.
Fast-forward 25 years and Clive’s married, struggling to keep the now flailing motel afloat. Her husband, Mitch, urges Clive to sell the motel, restart their life and revive their love. As Clive ponders what she should do, Mann returns wanting his orb back. Problem is, Clive is not quite sure where it is.
Stars: Carie Kawa, Michael Esparza & Daniel Dorr
(Dir: Raúl Cerezo Fernando and González Gómez. Country: Spain. Year: 2022. Runtime: 95 mins. Language: Spanish (English Subtitles))
Manuel, an octogenarian with dementia, moves in with his son Mario and family following the sudden suicide of his wife. One evening at dinner Manuel declares that he will kill them all in their sleep.
It’s the hottest summer in history, the apartment is sweltering and claustrophobic and Lena, Mario’s wife, believes that something dreadful is bound to happen because of Manuel’s strange behaviour. But it is not just Manuel who is acting strangely, all the old people in their building are exhibiting violent tendencies as the temperature continues to rise.
Stars: Zorion Eguileor, Gustavo Salmerón & Paula Gallego
(Dir: John Barnard. Country: Canada. Year: 2023. Runtime: 87 mins. Language: English)
In a remote post-apocalyptic northern city where many of the population are depressive zombie-like automatons, Beth, a volunteer watchman is tasked with reporting sightings of “strays,” who are captured and taken to a secure facility. She hopes to find her father among the Strays.
In this bleak, endless winter Beth has myriad of one-night stands yet whilst everyone around her slowly seems to be getting infected, Beth discovers that by entering an alternative dimension through her post-coital dreams, she’s able to stave off the illness, but for how long?
Wintertide sits somewhere between an allegory for the pandemic, a contemplation on depression, and a comment on an over-medicated society.
Stars: Naimh Carolan, Solange Sookram & Jeremy Walmsley
THE EYE AND THE WALL
Dir: Javier del Cid. Country: Guatemala. Year: 2021. Runtime: 85 mins. Language: Spanish (English Subtitles))
A totalitarian regime, The Eye, runs the city of Gabhán. Shut off from the world by a soaring wall it has a brutal and militaristic police force.
Trapped inside, the population exists in poverty – condemned to live with starvation, ill health and constant danger. Alba is a member of an underground network that distributes food, medicine, and water to the most deprived. Desperate to get Alba to safety, Lucre lies to Alba about her safety and need to escape. Unsuspecting, Alba embarks on a journey that changes her life forever.
Set in a fictional Latin American city, this dystopian nightmare feels like an all-too-real humanitarian crisis. Although it’s a sci-fi thriller, it doesn’t always feel very fictional given the state of the world.
Stars: Juan Pablo Olyslager, Álvaro Sagone & Alexander Alzat
SCI-FI-LONDON are also screening the visually stunning REMOTE.
(Dir: Mika Rottenberg and Mahyad Tousi. Country: USA/UK. Year: 2022. Runtime: 92 mins. Language: Croatian, English, Hindi, Korean, Persian, Spanish (English Subtitles))
In a strangely credible solar-punk world of the near future, Unoaku, an ex-pat architect lives and works in a small apartment in Kuala Lumpur – a paradise of vibrant colours, thriving plant life, and virtual screens. Every day she joins a Watch Party and meets friends also obsessed with the daily performances of the South Korean dog-groomer.
Together the women discover they are connected through mysterious portals hidden in their homes. Embarking on a quest for answers, they use the portals to bridge the distance between them, uncovering a phenomenon with universe-altering consequences.
REMOTE explores what it means to live in a ‘hyperconnected’ future populated by isolated individuals who find new ways to maintain human relationships.
Stars: Okwui Okopkwasili, Joony Kim & Nikita Tewani
The festival will also deliver an outstanding collection of international short films at Rich Mix in Shoreditch. The festival’s short programmes are supported by Adobe and new genre label, Action Xtreme, both of whom are helping the festival develop new talent through the 48hour film challenge.
This year also sees the return of the festival’s celebration of technology and art, HACKSTOCK. Curated in association with Playla.BZ and Mondo 2000, this three-day event will feature Kevin Mack’s latest VR project, the recycled Alien Choir, a Lego tower of Babel and comic fair and workshops.
Full programme details can be found on the festival website http://sci-fi-london.com