Science fiction films are often seen as the lesser cousin to drama and comedy, seen almost as a guilty pleasure. Apart from the special effects, costume, editing and music categories, they tend to be overlooked at the major mainstream awards. Luckily for us fans, the BFI are hosting a special science fiction season and not only allowing, but actively encouraging us all to let our geek flags fly.
Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder will be the BFI’s biggest themed season of film and television. Running from October 20 to December 31, the season will include over 1,000 screenings of classic films and television programs at over 200 locations across the UK, from outdoor events at iconic British sites to screenings in multiplexes, local cinemas and community venues, in one of the largest and most ambitious sci-fi seasons ever created.
Heather Stewart, Creative Director, BFI said:
Sci-fi has come to define the cinematic experience for audiences everywhere. We will celebrate the originality, the craftsmanship and the vision behind some of the most important film and television ever made. Its calling card is visual spectacle, but at its heart sci-fi is the genre for big ideas, revealing our hopes and fears for tomorrow’s world. We have only glimpsed its full potential.
One of the biggest draw cards will no doubt be The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 preview. Sometime during the season (presumably before the film’s November 21 release), festivalgoers will be treated to an exclusive preview of the upcoming film. The preview will be a part of the BFI Southbank program, though when the screening will take place has not yet been announced.
Other highlights include:
- Nationwide reach: With over 1,000 screenings at over 200 venues, Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder can be enjoyed across the UK. There will be more than 576 sci-fi screenings and events offered through the BFI Film Audience Network (BFI FAN), screening at least 419 titles at 124 locations nationwide, plus 134 titles shown across 260 screening slots at BFI Southbank.
- Flagship events: Spectacular sci-fi screenings will take place at some of the UK’s most iconic locations, including the BFI Sci-Fi Weekend at The British Museum, Bletchley Park, the Eden Project, Jodrell Bank Observatory, and the square in H.G. Wells’ home town of Midhurst, West Sussex.
- BFI distribution: Re-released by the BFI, Ridley Scott’s director’s cut of dystopian masterpiece Blade Runner will be back on the big screen in cinemas across the UK in early 2015. The BFI will celebrate its previously announced nationwide re-release of Stanley Kubrick’s visionary 2001: A Space Odyssey (28 November) with a host of special guests, including the film’s stars Gary Lockwood and Keir Dullea.
- Exclusive BFI DVD and Blu-ray releases will include the long-awaited seven-disc DVD box set of BBC TV series Out of the Unknown (1965–1971), and the DVD premiere of Nigel Kneale’s 1954 adaptation of George Orwell’s classic Nineteen Eighty-Four, starring the great Peter Cushing.
- BFI National Archive: The BFI National Archive will present four meticulously restored classic sci-fi titles at BFI Southbank and on BFI Player during the season, with shimmering new prints of the first ever British sci-fi feature film, A Message from Mars (1913), as well as the classic The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) and short film The Pirates of 1920 (1911). There will be an exhibition of Sci-Fi treasures from the archive throughout the season, including the original costume designs, photographs, posters and publicity material for films including Metropolis (1927), Things to Come (1936), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Blade Runner (1982) and Brazil (1985) – and the original continuity script from Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977).
- Collaboration with the BBC: The BFI is working closely with the BBC to open new opportunities for television, radio and cinema audiences to explore science fiction throughout the season. Historian Dominic Sandbrook will explore science fiction in its many forms in a new, landmark four-part series: Tomorrow’s Worlds. Airing on BBC Two to coincide with the season, a specially edited feature version will preview at BFI Southbank. BFI Southbank will host the London premiere of the first episode of the eighth series of BBC One’s highly anticipated Doctor Who, with the 12th Doctor Peter Capaldi in attendance, on 7 August, following its world premiere in Cardiff earlier that day, with both events presented as part of Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder.
- Previews, premieres and events: The season also includes an exclusive preview of the highly anticipated The Hunger Games: Mockingjay at BFI Southbank and the world premiere of Filmed in Supermarionation, the definitive documentary about the iconic and world-leading puppetry and animation techniques devised by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and their team of puppeteers in a Slough warehouse in the 1960s. DJ Yoda goes to the sci-fi movies in a very special Sonic Cinema event, and Sonic Cinema will spend a weekend delving Inside Afrofuturism, embarking on a cinematic trip into the vast, genre-bending universe of black science fiction, technoculture and magic realism.
- BFI books: The season will see the publication of the definitive BFI Sci-Fi Compendium, with contributions from world authorities on sci-fi, authors including: Lauren Beukes, directors such as Gareth Edwards and Edgar Wright, plus Sci-Fi visionary Douglas Trumbull. It will also be marked by the publication of a set of new special edition BFI Film Classics, published by Palgrave Macmillan, exploring nine key Sci-Fi films and written by high-profile film critics and academics, including Mark Kermode, Roger Luckhurst and Kim Newman.
- Your Sci-Fi: The BFI is launching sci-fi polls aimed at audiences of all ages. First is a quest to find favourite science-fiction film and television characters for The Greatest Sci-Fi Characters of All Time poll, be they man or machine, hero, heroine or villain, and with Into Film there will be a UK-wide poll of science teachers by young people asking them to name which Sci-Fi film inspired them.
For fans of sci-fi, this festival is like Christmas, Easter, school summer holidays and your birthday all rolled into one. Your biggest problem will be choosing what events to go to and what ones you can cope with missing. For the non-fan or casual viewer, this provides a great introduction to the genre. And if all else fails, it will certainly provide you with a whole new perspective on some of the UK’s classic monuments and tourist attractions.
Information about the season can be found at the BFI website. Check out the Festival trailer below: