Other Worlds Austin Unleashes First Wave
Sci-fi icon Sybil Danning to be honored
By Richard Whittaker,
9:00AM, Tue. Oct. 4, 2016
Sci-fi film festival Other Worlds Austin has established itself as a place to celebrate new and cutting edge future visions. This year, it will celebrate a classic with a gala screening of Roger Corman's beloved Battle Beyond the Stars, and a special award for star and guest of honor Sybil Danning.
If there was a queen of straight-to-video movies, it was Danning, but it was her Battle performance as space Valkyrie Saint-Exmin that secured her a place in the genre pantheon. That's why the OWA team has picked her as the recipient of the first ever Defender of the Universe award and, as founder Bears Fonte explained, it's not because of that famous costume. He said, "Sybil Danning is so good in Battle Beyond the Stars because she is just there to fight, and to be taken as an equal with all the men."
For Fonte, it's also an opportunity to reappraise a film that for years was just seen as a Star Wars cash-in. There's a score by modern soundtrack leviathan James Horner (including some themes he re-used later for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan), a script by John Sayles, an early production credit for Gale Ann Hurd (The Walking Dead), effects and cinematography by James Cameron, "and at the head of it all, is Roger Corman, the foundation that our modern understanding of genre film is built on. I’ve always wanted to see this film on the big screen, and now that I have my own festival, I can.”
That's not the only title in this first wave of announcements. First up is post-apocalyptic survival thriller The Tribe, for which director Roxy Shih has been announced as the first nominee for the Mary Shelley Award for female filmmakers working in SF. Pushing visual boundaries is Battledream Chronicle, the extraordinary animated feature from Martinique, while adding horror to the equation under the new Under Worlds Austin banner is Bed of the Dead, a supernatural shocker with possibly the year's craziest conceit. Here's what we've got so far:
Battle Beyond the Stars
D: Jimmy T. Murakami, USA
Shad, a young farmer, assembles a band of diverse mercenaries in outer space to defend his peaceful planet from the evil tyrant Sador and his armada of aggressors. Among the mercenaries are a Space Cowboy, a space-going truck driver from Earth; Gelt, a wealthy and experienced assassin looking for a place to hide; and Saint-Exmin, a Valkyrie warrior looking to prove herself in battle.
D: Alain Bidard, Martinique, 2016
In 2100, the empire of Mortemonde colonized almost all the nations of the Earth and reduced their populations to slavery. Every slave is forced to collect 1000XP every month in Battledream, a video game where they can die for real. Only those who succeed are granted the right to live until the following month. Syanna, a young slave from Martinique, refuses to keep living in this condition and decides to fight for her freedom...
Bed of the Dead
D: Jeff Maher, Canada, 2016
Four twentysomethings find themselves stuck on a haunted antique bed where leaving means suffering a gruesome death. Plagued with frightening hallucinations, they must figure out the bed’s secrets before they are ultimately picked off one by one.
D: Roxy Shih, USA, 2016
A pandemic has taken place in the near future that has forced mankind into a desperate survival mode. A family of three young sisters struggle to get by as each day food and resources become more scarce and their patience with each other wears thin. One day, a stranger finds their stronghold and the girls soon discover that everything they thought they knew was not what it seemed.
Other Worlds Austin SciFi Film Festival runs Dec. 1-4. Visit www.otherworldsaustin.com for more info.