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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Boston Science Film Festival 6

Boston Science Film Festival 6 - Well the event has past and since with the marathon and work and all happening in short order I failed to get my writing done as it went along. So here is an attempt to get caught up.
I caught the "Anything to Declare" short program on Thursday Feb 16th, Beside the behind the scenes footage of the upcoming animated movie(?) "War of the Worlds : Goliath" there was a film about a watch maker "Frankie" who receives a pocket watch that allows him to time travel. Unfortunately for him though he is not the only one who knows the secret. Unfortunately the sound was off on the downloaded version that was played. It seemed an interesting enough story but the sound being a few seconds ahead of the picture was very distracting.
Wonder Garden a S. Korean film about a virtual gamer who works in a convenience store and has to solve the problems in real life and then to her surprise also in her virtual garden. The short had a lot of personality but it was really not the style I like. It was quirky and strange but not in a way I enjoyed. I am sure some people liked it though. It was well put together and filmed.
The best of the night was a Italian entry called "Future in Your Hands" a wonderfully dystopian look at a future where people are forced to take daily urine test to make sure they are not breaking the ever increasing list of government rules. The main character is a young man with the horrible condition of the bashful bladder, Paruresis. Fear of peeing in front of others but he has to do it and the nurse watching him has to watch. It plays out well and all the way to a surprising ending.
The feature was a World Premiere called "The Golden Age of Science Fiction" Which was a refreshingly honest look at Science Fiction icon John W. Campbell Jr. The man who wrote "Who Goes There?" the story that would later become the films, The Thing From Outer Space, and influenced John Carpenter's "The Thing". He would then become the editor of Astounding Science Fiction magazine and was responsible for bringing many of the greatest hard science fiction writers of our time to audiences around the world.
Through interviews with many of great writers we learn of the many writers he challenged to be better and his methods to do so. The list of writers is amazing and includes Brian Aldiss, Samuel Delaney, Barry Malzberg, Harry Harrison, Isaac Asminov, Thomas Disch. Robert Heimlein, Ben Bova, Philip Jose Farmer, and more made a compelling piece about a complicated man. This film was not only talked about the Golden Age of Science Fiction, the 50s through early seventies, but also captured the importance of Campbell's magazine on the period.
Campbell was a complicated man and the film does not pull punches in exploring the man. An ego driven editor he challenged writers to improve their writing, often with his own ideas. He was an antisemite and racist who often made comments many people considered offensive. Film maker Eric Solstein does an excellent job bring the many hours of interviews into a cohesive storyline that fully explore the man and his effect on science fiction writing.

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