Utopia: The Tel-Aviv International Festival of Science Fiction and Fantastic Film Announces First Titles

Peter Martin, Managing Editor

Presenting a marvelous banquet of fantastic titles with their first announcement, Utopia: The Tel-Aviv International Festival of Science Fiction and Fantastic Film has, in the proverbial sense, something for everyone -- as long as you have good taste in genre films!

Kicking things off on September 13 will be Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem, which, as always with Gilliam, means a must-see title, no matter the reaction to it. What We Do in the Shadows, which tickled the fancy of our own Ryland Aldrich when he saw it earlier this year, will serve as the closing night presentation on September 20.

In between are plenty of tasty titles, including some that are well-known to the Twitch readership -- Frank Pavich's documentary Jodorowsky's Dune -- and others that are gaining public exposure for the first time, such as the Israeli horror-thriller JeruZalem, by the Paz Brothers; the first look at the trailer and segments from the film will be offered, accompanied by a panel discussion with the cast and crew.

This first announcement includes the out-of-competition titles; the complete juries, titles and "some more surprises" will be unveiled next week. Can't wait!

Here's the official verbiage from the festival:


The Tel-Aviv International Science Fiction Festival will take place this year 13-20 September at the Tel-Aviv Cinematheque, for the first time in conjunction with the Tel Aviv DLD Innovation Week. It will include a wide-ranging panorama of films, both Israeli and international, premieres and special screenings, alongside a variety of science, imagination and future vision events - conferences, micro-talk sessions, exhibits and performances, all utilizing the platform of science fiction to discuss issues of technology and society, science and ethics, and perspectives on tomorrow.

The festival will open September 13 with The Zero Theorem, the new insane vision of the future by renowned director Terry Gilliam ("12 Monkeys"), telling the story of Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz), a lone and eccentric computer genius hired to work obsessively on a mysterious project the purpose of which is to discover the meaning, or rather, the lack of meaning, of life.

What We Do in the Shadows will be the Utopia closing film September 20. The creators of the cult series "Flight of the Concords" present a hilarious mockumentary that has sunk its teeth into the hearts of many at the Sundance

Another special event is Jodorowsky's Dune by Frank Pavich, The fascinating tale of the ambitious yet ultimately doomed attempt by acclaimed Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky to adapt the sci-fi epic "Dune" to the big screen during the psychedelic seventies. It nearly changed the face of cinema forever, this is the bittersweet, moving tale of a bigger-than-life production that crumbled under its' own weight.

Utopia will host an exclusive first look at a trailer and segments from the new Israeli film JeruZalem, the horror-thriller from the Paz Brothers (Phobidilia); this will include a panel discussion with the actors and production team, joined by Shaked Berenson from Epic Pictures Group. Berenson will also serve on the festival jury.

The festival hosts the following programs; the main program is Utopia, presenting mostly science fiction and fantasy, sidebar program Dystopia, the dark side of Utopia for thriller, horror, action and revenge themed titles. Back to the Future is our classics program and the festival also hosts a doc section for genre, science fiction and science and technology themed docs.

Back to the Future, our classics section, will present Brazil, Ghost in the Shell, Alien and Spaceballs.


Opening / Closing Titles

THE ZERO THEOREM (UK / ROMANIA 2013)
Dir.: Terry Gilliam
Christoph Waltz, Melanie Thierry, David Thewlis. Matt Damon, Tilda Swinton
An eccentric genius works on a mysterious project to discover the meaning of life.

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (NEW ZEALAND 2014)
Dir.: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement
Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Rhys Darby
A hilarious horror comedy about three vampires living in modern-day New Zealand.


Doc Program

PARTICLE FEVER (USA 2013)
Dir.: Mark Levinson
Savas Dimopoulos, Nira Arkani-Hamed, Fabiola Gianotti, Monica Dunford, Martin Aleksa, Mike Lamont
The secrets of the Large Hadron Collider told through the eyes of six scientists.

JODOROWSKY'S DUNE (USA 2013)
Dir.: Frank Pavich
Alejandro Jodorowsky, Michel Seydoux, H.R. Giger, Chris Foss, Nicholas Winding Refn, Amanda Lear, Richard Stanley
The fascinating tale of one director who tried to adapt "Dune" to the big screen during the psychedelic seventies.


Israeli feature-length out of competition

ANOTHER WORLD (ISRAEL 2014)
Dir.: Eitan Reuven
Carl McCrystal, Susanne Gschwendtner, Zach Cohen, Davina Kevelson, David Lavenski
Five survivors of a biological holocaust try to uncover the truth while battling against a rabid zombie army.

THE LAST BUNCH (ISRAEL 2014)
Dir.: Evyatar Halimi
Idan Barkai, Jonathan Porat, Zlil-Chen Zaks, Tomer Jacovchak, Omer Meshel
Three friends go on a journey to find their sworn childhood enemy.


Utopia non-competitive program

DIE GSTETTENSAGA: THE RISE OF ECHSENFRIEDL (AUSTRIA 2014)
Dir.: Johannes Grenzfurthner
Sophia Grabner, Lukas Tagwerker, Jeff Ricketts
After a radioactive world war, two individuals set out to find the legendary Echsenfriedl.

LIFE AFTER BETH (USA 2014)
Dir.: Jeff Baena
Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, Molly Shannon, John C. Reilly
Zach is broken when his girlfriend passes unexpectedly. He's also not very happy when she returns from the dead.

PERFECT 46, THE (USA 2013)
Dir.: Brett Ryan Bonowicz
Whit Hertford, James Kyson, Don McManus, Robyn Cohen
A website couples individuals in order to create the perfect genetic match.

RETURNED, THE (SPAIN / CANADA 2013)
Dir.: Manuel Carballo
Emily Hampshire, Kris Holden-Ried, Shawn Doyle, Claudia Bassols
The world has recovered from a zombie epidemic, but the fear is only about to erupt...

SCRIBBLE, THE (USA 2014)
Dir.: John Suits
Katie Cassidy, Garret Dillahunt, Eliza Dushku, Michelle Trachtenberg, Kunal Nayyar, Sasha Grey
A woman tries to control her Multiple Personality Disorder with a unique and dangerous treatment.

SPACE STATION 76 (USA 2014)
Dir.: Jack Plotnick
Liv Tyler, Patrick Wilson, Matt Bomer
The quiet lives of a space station's inhabitants get messy when a new member joins the crew.

WITCHING AND BITCHING (Spain 2013)
Dir.: Alex de la Iglesia
Hugo Silva, Mario Casas, Carolina Bang, Carmen Maura
Failing chauvinist criminals and a clan of man-hating witches in a crazy, hilarious war of sexes.

YOUNG AND PRODIGIOUS T.S. SPIVET, THE (FRANCE / CANADA 2013)
Dir.: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Helena Bonham Carter, Judy Davis, Callum Keith Rennie, Kyle Catlett
A wonder child on a thrilling adventure to become the world's greatest inventor.


Dystopia non-competitive side-bar program

PUPPET FICTION (GERMANY 2014)
Dir.: Rene Marik
Rene Marik, Christoph Maria Herbst, Dorka Gryllus, Rike Schubert, Ulli Volland, Lars Frank
A puppet theater is on the brink of collapse when an attempt to kidnap its' star goes awry.

STILL LIFE (ARGENTINA 2014)
Dir.: Gabriel Grieco
Berta Muniz, Luz Cipriota, Amin Yoma
"Meat is Murder" becomes a saying more chilling that ever, when murders related to the meat industry start occurring in a small Argentinian town.

ZOMBEAVERS (USA 2014)
Dir.: Jordan Rubin
Cortney Palm, Rachel Melvin, Bill Burr
A group of youngsters tries to survive a deadly zombie beaver attack.


Back to the Future classics program

ALIEN (USA 1979)
Dir.: Ridley Scott
Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt
Ridley Scott's iconic sci-fi masterpiece turns 35 years old. A special screening in commemoration of H.R.Giger.

BRAZIL (USA 1985)
Dir.: Terry Gilliam
Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro, Bob Hoskins
A fascinating yet vicious visual journey into the depths of the stifling halls of metropolis bureaucracy.

GHOST IN THE SHELL (JAPAN 1995)
Dir.: Mamoru Oshii
A combat unit sets out to defeat the Puppet Master, who infiltrates human minds and turns them into helpless puppets.

SPACEBALLS (USA 1987)
Dir.: Mel Brooks
Bill Pullman, Daphne Zuniga, Rick Moranis, Mel Brooks, John Candy
The Sci-fi genre's greatest hits deconstructed in a crazy, hilarious parody.


Visit the official site for more information.

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