Fans of fantastic film who happen to live in or around Italy know where to head from October 31st to November 5th as Science + Fiction descends once more on Trieste. The festival’s 2017 edition opens with the Italian premiere of Michael Almereyda’s Marjorie Prime, a sci-fi drama that ponders technology’s role in our day-to-day lives as it probes questions of love, memory and loss.
Opening on Halloween, the organizers see fit to include an affectionate nod to John Carpenter’s autumnal classic before kicking off a jam-packed five days in which shorts, feature films, international guests and science are celebrated and discussed.
Feature film highlights undoubtedly include festival favorites like Joe Lynch’s work floor ‘battle royale’ Mayhem, Miike Takashi’s samurai epic, Blade of the Immortal, and Paco Plaza’s brush with ouija board hauntings, Verónica. Pulpy delights arrive by way of mutated giant ants in Marko Mäkilaakso’s It Came from the Desert while aliens will test the mettle of Iko Uwais’ martial arts skills in special effects extravaganza Beyond Skyline. Aliens of a different sort explore the essence of humanity during their scouting mission in Kurosawa Kiyoshi’s singular Before We Vanish.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. Xavier Gens’ Cold Skin surfaces with Lovecraftian monsters populating an age-old tale of man’s desire to subjugate the unknown while Mathieu Turi’s Hostile fuses monster movie and romantic drama into a fairly one-of-a-kind hybrid.
Trieste Science + Fiction also shows love to Italian cinema. Medical experimentation is front and center in the world premiere of Il guardiano del ghiaccio; a cult classic set in a post-holocaust wasteland roars back to life with 2019 - Dopo la caduta di New York; Spazio Corto volumes 1 & 2 put the spotlight on a total of 19 Italian shorts (this in addition to three other short film programs that collectively feature another 32 shorts from Europe and beyond).
As part of its Teen Visions special focus, younger cineastes can discover the family-friendly thrills of the animated Zombillenium, learn about love in the offbeat sci-fi-comedy Lovemilla, and figure out how to cope with an empty world in David Moreau’s Alone. Closing night belongs to Benson and Moorhead’s The Endless, a cult-survivor story set in a Lovecraftian microcosm, while Close Encounters of the Third Kind is exactly the type of retro that’s sure to send audiences home smiling; all the more so since the 40th anniversary of Spielberg’s classic is celebrated with a new 4k copy and preceded by a short making-of that includes a new interview with the director himself.
But the Trieste science + fiction festival amounts to more than movies. The seaport with a passion for science and environmental concerns dedicates a substantial section of its program to Futurologia Docs & Talks. Partnering with the city’s research institutes, four documentaries, including Il senso della bellezza (about the intersection between science and beauty at CERN, Geneva) and Let There Be Light (about whether or not nuclear fusion can ever be environmentally-friendly) will screen in the presence of moderators to spark lively discussions.
Also returning to Trieste is the Fantastic Film Forum, which will once again offer professionals of fantastic cinema the opportunity of attending round tables, panels and more in order to exchange ideas on a variety of subjects. During its 2017 festival, Trieste Science + Fiction also plays host to the 21st Golden Méliès Ceremony during which the European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation awards the Méliès d’Or to the best European fantastic feature and short film. This year’s ceremony will be enlivened by jazz artist Stefano Bollani’s extemporaneous scoring of a program of silent sci-fi shorts.
For more info on the sizable program (which also includes a sci-fi education program for kids, a Digital Fabrication workshop for adults as well as ‘images from the future’ exhibitions all across the city) head over to the official website of Trieste Science + Fiction.
Take it from us, though. If you love science, science fiction or fantastic film: what more do you need?