From steampunk dress-ups to cyborg lovers, films capture our growing unease
, 2021-10-15 07:00:00,
The Sci-Fi Film Festival program includes work from around the world and judging from the shorts and features available for preview, extravagant spectacle is mostly absent – with the exception of the digital animation of Ryan Grobins’ Cyan Eyed, a seven-minute extravaganza featuring sky pirates battling gleaming robots in front of gorgeously coloured clouds.
Literally plausible speculation about the future is not a priority either: mostly, these are films that rely on ideas, performances, and the kind of makeshift ingenuity that the cosplayers of Steampunk Connection put into their outfits and scrap-metal props.
Futuristic worlds tend to be portrayed in broad strokes, often via time-honoured methods such as distorted electronic sounds or sets bathed in weirdly coloured light. Repressive dystopias are a popular theme, with roughly equal amounts of inspiration drawn from Black Mirror, The Handmaid’s Tale and real life.
Typical is Alden Peters’ short Friend of Sophia, in which a human (Janine Hartmann) and a cyborg (Fennell Chakendra) contemplate hooking up despite a crackdown on “techno-sexual deviants”. Another short, Kasia Kaczmarek’s Maeve in the Dark, takes a similar premise a couple of steps further, pairing its ailing heroine (Sekela Nancy Ngamilo) with both a male robot nurse (Bailey Pilbeam) and a ghostlike female hologram (Lianne Harvey) in the context of a pandemic that solely affects young women.
These are films about human connection, or the yearning for it, along with a fear that this yearning may be hopeless for reasons beyond an individual’s control.
Another no less “human” theme that crops up across the festival is the imagination…
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