WSFF 2010: Sci-Fi: Out There

Andrew Mack, Contributing Writer
The Sci-Fi: Out There program plays tonight at Cumberland Cinema at 9:15pm. There is still an opportunity to purchase tickets here

Opting for a smaller line up of longer short films the Sci-Fi: Out There program offers good diversity of subjects and approaches to the genre. My thoughts on most of the titles follow the break.

Already featured on these pages before the animated short Fard from France is spectacular piece of work. But the chance to be able to watch it on a bigger screen should prove to be a worthy draw. Very streamlined in its artistic approach with clean lines and a minute color pallet it is slightly distopian with a warning about a possible future. Very well done and wholly deserving to be a part of this program. 

I liked Defoe from UK director Ross Neil and I almost wish it was longer than its 9 minute run time. Perhaps the itself is a nod and a wink to Pierre Boulle or Rod Serling's adaptation of the Frenchman's novel but I cannot say more without giving it away. But the premise of the short is that an astronaut crash lands on a mysterious planet and as lonliness and hopelessness settle in on the lone traveller a run in with one of the local populas turns him into a fugitive. Impeccably well done and shot it is light on dialogue but the visuals are amazing.

Just because it is Sci-Fi does not mean that everything has to take place in the future either as the Canadian short ?E?ANX [The Cave] proves. Taking a Tsilhqot'in tale from the Athabaskan First Nations people director Helen Haig-Brown transports us through time and dimension when a lone hunter enters a cave and comes through the other side into the after life. It's a reminder that sci-fi doesn't have to be about technology and science all the time and that the genre has greater depth. 

And it is always great to watch short films of such a specific genre from an unexpected country or countries. In the case of Pumzi it is South Africa and Kenya. Sure that changed when a certain director named Neill Blomkamp spun the sci-fi world on its head with his debut feature film and hopefully directors like Kenyan Wanhuri Kahiu can take advantage of that exposure and get the resources they need to keep turning out projects like Pumzi. Kahiu's warning and allegorical tale of a world devastated by global war set on by water shortages from climate change sings hopeful by the end. It features impressive art design that at times feels familiar; I would have liked to have seen some more distinctly 'African' in style. Still, with this step perhaps someone like Kahiu can some day deliver a film that is uniquely Kenyan in its voice and still have a global appeal.
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