We visit the BFI’s Days Of Fear And Won­der.

Oc­to­ber- De­cem­ber 2014, na­tion­wide

SFX - - Contents -

With the BFI’s colos­sal sci- fi sea­son in full swing, Nina Cromeyer Dieke re­ports on the story so far

The BFI’s Days of Fear And Won­der pro­gramme has been screen­ing sci- fi clas­sics in over 200 lo­ca­tions across the UK to showcase the genre’s best and in­spire the next gen­er­a­tion of film­mak­ers. This year’s sea­son is also giv­ing genre lovers the op­por­tu­nity to at­tend talks and Q& As with film­mak­ers and crit­ics, take mas­ter­classes, and even dance to tunes by DJ Yoda. Pro­gramme cu­ra­tor Rhid­ian Davis says, “This is the genre that has the power to show us our hopes and fears for the fu­ture, al­ways at the fore­front of in­no­va­tion in spe­cial ef­fects and where things are go­ing.”

By the end of the year, the pro­gramme will have ex­plored three the­matic streams: To­mor­row’s World, Al­tered States and Con­tact. Spe­cial events have in­cluded an Afro­fu­tur­ism week­end, exhibitions from the BFI’s Na­tional Ar­chive, and a Star Wars Day on 13 De­cem­ber. Out­side of London, BFI part­ner­ships have re­sulted in screen­ings and events at Bletch­ley Park, the Eden Project and the Bris­tol Plan­e­tar­ium, among many more.

One event was the premiere of Am­bi­tion, a film com­mis­sioned by the Euro­pean Space Agency to mark the ESA Rosetta comet land­ing on 12 Novem­ber. The short film, star­ring Games of Thrones’ Ai­dan Gillen and The Fall’s Ais­ling Fran­ciosi, bridges the gap be­tween sci­ence fic­tion and fact by de­pict­ing – in stun­ning spe­cial ef­fects – a fan­tas­ti­cal event which is in fact re­al­ity. It’s an in­no­va­tive col­lab­o­ra­tion that has not only added film­mak­ing to the ESA’s man­tle, but raises the age- old ques­tion around the re­la­tion­ship be­tween sci- fi and sci­ence. “Sci- fi is the imag­ined realm of sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy, and is a lab­o­ra­tory for a lot of ideas,” says Davis.

One of those ideas was dis­cussed at the BFI South­bank Reuben Li­brary by sci- fi au­thor Adam Roberts, who asked whether cin­ema is the ul­ti­mate time travel ma­chine, as it moves us be­tween dis­tant mo­ments and speeds up and slows down time. The li­brary also hosted writer and critic Sophie Mayer, who spoke of the fe­male cy­borg as the male- made empty ves­sel and made the provoca­tive sug­ges­tion that non- or­ganic en­hance­ments, like glasses, make cy­borgs out of us all!

This, and other stir­ring con­cepts, are the fuel that power the sto­ries the pro­gramme is cel­e­brat­ing.

“In a world of visual fan­tasy and the plas­tic­ity of the dig­i­tal im­age, peo­ple want to see where it’s gonna go,” says Davis. “They want grand nar­ra­tives that will make sense of this fan­tasy world. And they want to un­der­stand what th­ese tech­no­log­i­cal changes will mean. I think sci- fi does that.”

Days Of Fear And Won­der runs un­til 31 De­cem­ber. A full pro­gramme is avail­able at www. bfi. org. uk/ sci- fi.

Am­bi­tion bridges fact and fic­tion in a real- life fan­tasy. Film lovers get­ting in the spirit of things. Lo­cal hos­pi­tal in­pa­tients join in the fun. There are cer­tainly worse places to watch a film.

Screen­ings in­clude new re­leases

and older clas­sics.

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