The Five Best Films From the New York Sci-Fi Film Festival

Monday, 23 January 2017 - 4:22PM
Monday, 23 January 2017 - 4:22PM
The Five Best Films From the New York Sci-Fi Film Festival
< >
This past weekend was the inaugural New York Sci-Fi Film Festival, with weird, amazing, and humorous films from across the world coming together to blow our collective minds. There were a lot of great pieces at the Festival (honorable mention to Dryad and Might!) but here are Outer Places' Top 5 from the Festival:

5. 2BR02B

This is a short film adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's famous short story, "2 B R 0 2 B," which imagines a near-future society in which populations are controlled by carefully balancing the number of deaths and births through the Federal Bureau of Termination. Suicides, serviced by a helpful hotline (just dial 2BR02B!), are encouraged to make sure there is always enough room for newborns.

The film itself is well-executed and beautifully shot, following a young man as he waits to hear whether the birth of his child has gone well. In the meantime, a painter in the immaculate hospital lobby is busy at work creating a mural that celebrates Dr. Benjamin Hitz, one of the architects and leaders of the initiative to control populations. As the movie goes on, it's revealed that the young man, Edward K. Wehling, Jr, must take his grandfather to be executed in order to make way for his baby. Dr. Hitz himself arrives and tries to persuade Mr. Wehling to understand the necessity of terminating people, but a twist! Edward has triplets—meaning three people must die.

You can see the film's IMDB page here and the Facebook page here.

4. The Last Journey of Paul WR

Paul WR (or "Le dernier voyage de l'énigmatique Paul WR") is indeed "enigmatic": Paul WR is supposed to be the greatest astronaut of his generation, assigned to a mission to save Earth from a looming red moon, but the reasons for the moon's danger, the details of his mission, or why Paul WR is telepathic (he can read the thoughts of everyone around him) is never adequately explained. 

What we do know is that the film is haunting and vividly dreamlike. It seems to take place in a Fallout-style retro futurist setting, though the main setting is a wonderfully gritty desert. Paul looking at the countdown to doomsday on his watch while sitting on the hood of his hovercar is one of the most memorable scenes from the film, and the fact that he's gone AWOL on the eve of his mission really gets across the point that Paul may be the loneliest man in the world.

You can see the film's IMDB page here and check out the trailer here.

3. Teleios

This movie is much more than a Star Trek fan film par excellence—it's a feature film that explores the concept of genetic modification and what it means to be perfect—and what makes us human. It follows the crew of the spaceship Teleios, who are sent to an orbiting station near Titan to recover its cargo after some unspecified accident kills the scientists. Old hat for most sci-fi fans (even Rick and Morty makes fun of the trope), but the crew of the Teleios are not normal astronauts—they're genetically modified humans, meant to be stronger, smarter, more capable (and more attractive) than their non-modified counterparts.

From there, the film is a mystery centering on the location and nature of the cargo, where the one link between the crew of the Teleios and the truth is a single deranged survivor. Apart from the solid special effects, costumes, and plotting, Teleios goes the extra mile by actually being a thought-provoking piece of sci-fi.

You can see the film's IMDB page here and check out the trailer here.

2. Aden

Of all the short films I saw at NYSFFF, Aden hands-down takes the cake. Somewhere between Inception, Constantine, and Fooly Cooly, the movie follows a mysterious man whose job is to locate children with supernatural powers. In the case of the film, these "powers" take the form of a giant, invisible robot tearing up the downtown of a major city while the protagonist attempts to hunt down the kid who's unknowingly controlling it.

Apart from the tremendous CGI and the ingenious premise (not to mention the awesome robot), the film builds up to a strong climax as the protagonist breaks into a high-rise apartment, pushes past the kid's parents, and pins the boy, Aden, against a wall as the robot climbs up the building to stop him. Highly recommended.

You can check out the film's IMDB page here and the Facebook page here.

1. I, Phillip

I'd never watched a VR movie before NYSFFF, but "I, Philip" got me excited: once you put those goggles on, you are awash in a 2001: Space Odyssey-style infinite labyrinth of colors and patterns, then in the head of Philip K. Dick, one of the most controversial, bizarre, and revolutionary sci-fi writers of all time.

No, you are literally in his head.

To be more specific, you are in an animatronic bust, imbued with a robotic face and an AI programmed to mimic the mind and personality of Dick. You look out at a class of college students and private rooms of journalists clamoring for interviews, and you hear 'yourself' answering their questions in a modulated version of Dick's voice, until one journalist asks the most important question of all: "Do you dream?" From there, the whole movie takes you to another level that I won't spoil.

"I, Philip" does just what PKD himself did: it makes you question reality, fiction, and whether androids dream of electric sheep.

You can check out the project's website here.

Science Fiction
Sci-Fi Movies