Taking place from 31 May – 6 June 2023, the Sci-Fi-London film festival is taking place at four cinemas: the Prince Charles Cinema, the Picturehouse Central, the Garden Cinema and Rich Mix (buy your tickets here).
Day Four of Sci-Fi-London offers an eclectic mix of sci-fi movies for cinemagoers, here are our reviews of each of them…
The Great Glitch/Children of Paradise (Det Store Glitch/Paradisets Børn, 2023) World Première, 3 June 9pm, Picturehouse Cinema
“A film is always born from a wish,” says a voiceover at the beginning of writer/director Søren Peter Langkjær Bojsen’s feature, announcing that we are watching a fiction whose characters are products and playthings of a writer’s imagination. Here those characters – youth lost over one summer in Copenhagen – are similarly driven by desire. Rune (Joos Støvelbæk) longs to be a part of a meaningful revolutionary movement, but has no idea what that would involve. His weed-addicted friend Søren (Lukas Gregory) falls hard in love with Franka (Leonora Saabye), but she reciprocates only half-heartedly. And just as Rune and Søren go by their respective nicknames (Ronja and Serb), and the film comes with a double-title, Franka too has a doppelgänger in the altogether cheerier Esther (also played by Saabye), who starts hanging around with Søren.
As these three (or is it four?) post-millennial slackers succumb to freak infestations, wild conspiracies, unexplained disappearances, unrestrained binges and uncanny glitches in the system that express themselves in the very texture of the film’s artefacting, jump-cutting footage and warping soundtrack, this “cross-eyed and sometimes kind of ridiculous fairy-tale” (as the narrator puts it) follows their dazed rites of passage though a world that never fully makes sense, in search of love. It is a triumph of vibe over reason, capturing a generation dazed and confused in a fantasy of someone else’s making. Do not miss the mid-credits coda.
The Elderly (Viejos, 2022) UK Première, 3 June, 6.15pm, Prince Charles Cinema
After his elderly wife Rosa commits suicide, retiree Manuel (Zorion Eguileor) reluctantly moves in with his adult son Mario (Gustavi Salmerón), Mario’s teen daughter Naia (Paula Gallego) and Mario’s new, newly pregnant wife Lena (Irene Anula). Yet as the temperature rises to record levels, and the city turns into a sweltering hell on earth, family tensions bubble to the surface, while Manuel and the other elderly start behaving very strangely and portending inescapable doom.
Co-directed by Raúl Cerezo and Fernando González Gómez (The Passenger, 2021), this gerontophobic apartment horror hints only obliquely at what is coming. There are impressionistic nods towards the ghostly, the apocalyptic, the psychological or the extra-terrestrial, with even casual words in the background contributing to our impression of what may be unfolding – but at the same time the film clearly allegorises society’s shifting attitudes towards the elderly as all at once valuable repositories of history, conduits of familial tradition, wizened objects of abjection, and reminders of humanity’s universal destiny.
Wintertide (2023) UK Première, 3 June, 3.30pm, Prince Charles Cinema
In John Barnard’s sci-fi horror, co-written with Carrie-May Siggins, Beth (Niamh Carolan) struggles to disentangle her dreams from reality, and viewers may well share the feeling. For in a future world of permanent winter, where a disease, staved off only by medication, has left towns depopulated and the uninfected lonely (and horny), it is hard not to recognise our recent, all-too-real experiences under Covid being reflected through a dream-like fiction.
In a zombie-like lethargy, diseased ‘strays’ have until recently been largely non-aggressive, even as their numbers keep growing – but as Beth goes off her meds, searches for her missing father (John B. Lowe), and sees anyone with whom she forms a connection succumbing to the illness, she starts to wonder if she herself, or at least the vampiric double that she keeps seeing in her nightmares, might be a Typhoid Mary. Or maybe she is herself one of the infected, experiencing their dissociation and depression from the inside while dreaming normal life through a glass darkly. Either way, this is a disorienting, dispiriting tale of humanity left behind.
Sci-Fi-London will be taking place between 31 May and 6 June. Keep it with SciFiNow as we review the movies on each day of the festival.