On Tuesday, June 2, the Worldwide Short Film Festival screened the Sci-Fi: Out There program, an 80 minute program of six shorts, all falling within the theme of science fiction. The program is diverse and spectacular, with something to offer all fans of the genre, but certainly all worth a watch. Defoe – UK – 9 Minutes
This is a beautifully made short about a shipwrecked astronaut. Finding himself stranded, our protagonist goes through a series of coping mechanisms and stages of grief. When he finds that he may not be alone on the planet, he reacts in a less than optimal, but completely understandable way. The short is incredibly well produced and has some brilliant messages. The main character is, in fact, an evolved ape, giving the viewer the opportunity to observe the actions of this character with more objectivity and possibly a better understanding of our more ‘animal’ instincts.
Schizofredric – UK – 15 Minutes
Fredric is a slob who under-appreciates his girlfriend and can’t stand up for himself with his boss. One day, after a particularly unpleasant morning, he caves in a buys a self-improvement program. Two guys show up and install a wormhole in his bathroom. Crawling into it he finds himself trapped, forced to watch as an Alternate Fredric cleans his house, courts his girlfriend and stands up for himself. But when Alternate Fredric’s shift is over, will Real Fredric be able to stack up? Or will he have a new appreciation for what he really does have? Funny and poignant, this film has the effect of making you examine yourself just a little bit, while still laughing at how pathetic that guy is. A must see for anyone who has ever been human.
Fard – France – 13 Minutes
Fard is an incredible animated film about a ‘1984’ style society in which workers are constantly told that everyone is important to the whole and sharing one vision is best. The film focuses on one man who, upon arriving at work one day, is solicited by his colleague to take home a package for him, which he will retrieve later. When he arrives home, he receives a message from his friend, concerned, and admonishing him to get rid of it. Curious, the man opens the package only to find a real-life (ie. not animated) flashlight. The light does some very scary things, that lead the man to an end he had never expected. This film is amazing both for its storytelling and its technical skill. It is tense, interesting and engaging, while packing an entire world’s worth of story into a mere 13 minutes. A significant highlight of this program.
Vostok Station – New Zealand – 8 Minutes
A beautiful and abstract look at the end of life. The film is about a man who is the sole survivor of some kind of cataclysmic event. The film raises more questions than it answers, but it is beautifully made and meant to be food for thought.
?E?ANX (The Cave) – Canada – 11 Minutes
The Cave is the telling of a Tsilhqot’in (Northern Athabaskan First Nations) story about a man who discovers a cave that transports him in time – or so it seems. The story is beautifully and naturally told, blending traditional storytelling and science fiction tropes together. As with a number of other films in this program, it has the effect of creating more questions than providing answers, but it does so in a holistic and mythological way that makes it unique. Since this is Canadian, I strongly recommend that you try to catch it at its next festival showing.
Pumzi – South Africa/ Kenya – 23 Minutes (pictured above)
An epic short about life after World War 3: The Water War, this short does not rush itself. Focusing on a woman working in the only remaining natural history museum, the short tells the story of a bureaucracy that, despite losing everything, is still primarily concerned with controlling its population. Using broad strokes to tell its story, the narrative uses no actual dialogue – only voice overs – to alienate its viewers, mirroring the alienation of the society on the screen. Focusing in on the idea that alienation from nature leads to an irreversible alienation from our humanity, this beautiful short film makes more of a statement about our current environmental awareness than many films that have attempted similar messages. A must see.