The law is coming to Other Worlds Film Festival: yes, the local SF festival (running Dec. 1-6) is headed online for a virtual edition this year, and has confirmed a special retrospective screening of Judge Dredd as part of this year's lineup.
Other Worlds had already announced Skylin3s, the latest in the Skyline alien invasion franchise, as this year's opening night film. Now Danny Cannon's controversial 1995 adaptation of Judge Dredd gets the prestigious Supernova Launch slot. Fans of the original British comic never forgave the American version for missing all the brutality and inherent political satire of the printed version, but the Sylvester Stallone version has achieved cult status as a '90s SF action classic.
Elsewhere in the schedule, this year sees the return of Other World's signature emphasis on sci fi, as well as the more horror-tinged Under Worlds, but it will also be bringing the new Weirder Worlds. This sidebar is the space and place for more experimental, doesn't-quite-fit-anywhere-else titles including animated space rock opera Death of a Rockstar, ultra-violent LGBTQ thriller Playdurizm, and horror puppet show Creatures. Other Worlds Film Festival Founder Bears Rebecca Fonté said, "If you like Critters, Ghoulies, or Gremlins then Tony Jopia has just delivered the Christmas themed creature sci fi puppet comedy you’ve been asking for.”
On the more contemporary side, Other Worlds has snagged several hits from the year's festival circuit for their Texas debut. Oddball technothriller Lapsis was supposed to play at SXSW, and finally makes it back to Austin after successful runs at fests including Fantasia, where it played alongside the latest from Canadian horror and thriller experts Black Fawn, The Oak Room, identity-warping mindbender Minor Premise, and Bleed With Me, the chilling debut from rising director Amelia Moses.
In total, there have been 20 features and dozens of shorts for this virtual edition of the festival, and that's just the start, with more titles, the closing night film, and Defender of the Universe screenings still to be announced. Summing up the roster, Fonté said, “I think over seven years, this is one of our most ambitious, varied and international programs ever."
Other Worlds 2020 virtual edition runs Dec. 1-6. Passes and badges are already available at www.otherworldsfilmfest.com/badges. Individual tickets will be available starting two weeks prior to events.
D: Liam O’Donnell
France, 110 min, North American Premiere
In Skyline (2010) the alien invasion began… in Beyond Skyline (2017) the earth fought back… and now, in Skylin3s, an elite team of soldiers takes the fight to the alien’s home planet.
Several years since other-worldly blue lights first descended from the skies, the once-killer extraterrestrials known as ‘Pilots’ have had their biology altered to peacefully coexist with humans. When a lethal new virus threatens to revert the aliens to their human-hunting form, super-powered human-alien hybrid Captain Rose Corley (Beyond Skyline’s Lindsey Morgan) leads a desperate mission beyond the far reaches of space. This time, to save our world, we must invade theirs.
With writer/director (and Alumni) Liam O’Donnell once again at the helm of this thrilling threequel, expect explosive action, mind-bending special effects and a continuation of the galactic world-building that Other World fans have come to know and love from the SciFi series.
D: Danny Cannon
USA, 96 min, 25th Anniversary Screening
Maintaining law and order in the dystopian Mega-City One, one of the last strongholds against the barren wasteland of the “Cursed Earth,” lethally efficient Street Judges operate as judge, jury, and the instant executioner. When the most formidable and revered of the these – Judge Joseph Dredd (Sylvester Stallone) – finds himself framed for a murder and sentenced beyond the walls, he teams up with a computer hacker he sent to prison (Rob Schneider) to clear his name. Based (admitted loosely) on the British weekly comic, Judge Dredd notably flopped in the US but did quite well in the rest of the world, possibly one of the first victims of complaining fanboys who couldn’t get over the fact Dredd took off his helmet or kissed Diane Lane (who can blame him?)
In recent years, the film has gained more defenders, especially in the wake of the lifeless 2020 Karl Urban reboot. The sets, vehicles and costumes (including Versace’s Judge uniform) sparkle and capture the comic book’s aesthetic, as does director Danny Cannon’s darker satirical version. Cannon joins us to discuss law, justice and the meaning of life (hint: it ends).
AN IDEAL HOST
D: Robert Woods
Australia, 85 min, Texas Premiere
Liz only wants to host a perfect dinner at her and her partners newly purchased rural retreat, culminating in a public proposal. But uninvited guests ruin the carefully planned evening, toppling the carefully built artifices of personality constructed around us. With the walls let down, something far more sinister sneaks in, and best frenemies have only one evening to work together to save humanity.
D: Dennis Curlett
USA, 109 min, World Premiere
Fearing he'll never do anything truly great with his life, Barnaby breaks up with his newly pregnant girlfriend Rose to focus on his career in comedy. When his forty-year-old son shows up from the future to warn of impending doom, he turns to the only tools he has, improv comedy. Also, did you realize many homeless people are time-travelers in disguise?
D: Eric Schultz
USA, 95 min, Texas Premiere
Attempting to surpass his father's legacy, a reclusive neuroscientist runs a risky experiment on himself. Only able to remember a fraction of each hour, Ethan locks himself in his home with his ex-girlfriend asking her to dive headfirst into the uncharted equations of his brain.
D: Mathieu Turi
France, 90 min, Texas Premiere
After getting into a stranger's car, Lisa wakes up inside a narrow tube. On her arm, a bracelet counts down... No idea why she's there, Lisa must push the limits of her physical and psychological endurance to survive the oppressive trap. Anchored by a performance from Vikings’ Gaia Weiss, Meander finds a way to make Cube even more claustrophobic. Other Worlds Alumni Mathieu Turi (Hostile) returns with a first ever cinematic adrenaline crawl.
D: Noah Hutton
Canada, 90 min, Texas Premiere
In a parallel present, Ray Tincelli struggles to support himself and his questionably ailing brother. Luckily, he stumbles into a strange new berth in the gig economy; trekking deep into the forest, pulling cable over miles of terrain to connect large, metal cubes that link together the new quantum trading market. As he aims to circumvent the threat of robot cablers passing him, the growing hostility from fellow workers suggests he may not be the first one to cable under his call sign.
D: Gaurav Seth
Canada, 90 min, Texas Premiere
Four university students playing at time travel abandon their experiments when they lead to Loretta’s accidental death. When Loretta shows up five months later, unaware that she is dead, the quartet must confront themselves and their own existence in a way that leaves them questioning who they are and what is real. Other Worlds alumni Gaurev Seth (Prisoner X) channels Flatliners and Looper in this complicated thriller that stars Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin and another Other Worlds alumni Sandra Mae Frank (Soul Keeper), two of the finest deaf actors working.
I AM REN (JESTEM REN)
D: Piotr Ryczko
Poland, 75 min, Texas Premiere
A mother quietly obsessing over the sudden change in her family’s life, suffers a breakdown. But Ren is unlike other mothers; she is an android, her breakdown a glitch, and her therapy is nothing more than the company addressing the damage. Once she accepts her own reality, she can work through the circumstances that brought her here, and hopefully return to her family. As Ren, a Regenerative Emotive Neuro-being, proves herself an unreliable narrator, director Piotr Ryczko surrenders to the precise, clinical coldness of technological misogyny.
D: Marc Price
UK, 98 min, North American Premiere
A squadron of rookie space fighter pilots fly straight into an armada of invincible ships. Shot down with her mortally wounded gunner, a trainee pilot must navigate the harsh environment of a desolate planet to save herself before her life support expires. Her only hope, spare parts from an enemy crash, put her face to face with her adversary.
D: Arttu Haglund
Finland, 91 min, North American Premiere
Matti has had enough of the rat race. Glue factory, wife and a kid – is that all there is to it? Stuck living in his childhood home, now with his own family, he pines for change. Suddenly, he finds himself transported miles away. Randomly teleporting around the world, leaving his wife to provide for their small daughter, Matti finds his joy, only to lose everything that matters. Around the world 80 times a day,
D: BJ Verot
Canada, 90 min, Texas Premiere
After the death of his father, a gifted college student (Richard Harmon, The 100, Bates Motel, Continuum) returns home to find the fears from his childhood aren't as gone as he thought. Set up like a classic haunted house film, The Return gives Rodger and his girlfriend a chance to chase forgotten horrors until casting SciFi shadows across time and giving them a chance to right something long left wrong.
THE OAK ROOM
D: Cody Calahan
Canada, 90 min, Texas Premiere
During a raging snowstorm, a drifter returns home to a remote Canadian town. There, after hours in the bar, he offers to settle an old debt by telling the barkeep a story, set in another bar with another bartender, also after hours in a snowstorm. Inside that story is another story… and the air between barkeep and guest, as chilled as that outside, makes this exploration of narrative as winding as the road the drifter took to get there, or to the Oak Room, or to…
D: Justin McMillan
Australia, 100 min, Texas Premiere
Hannah's relentless pursuit of closure returns her to sleepy Billins where her son went missing years before. When her investigations threaten to uncover more than just her son’s body, she discovers the town may be hiding a much deeper secret, one both the living and the dead will fight to protect. Part Aussie Noir, part supernatural slow burn, Sweet River evokes place, memory, and pain like a hanging rock picnic in the sweet hereafter.
BLEED WITH ME
D: Amelia Moses
Canada, 79 min, Texas Premiere
Emily and Brendan invite Emily’s shy, awkward co-worker Rowan on a weekend getaway to a secluded cabin. Feeling like a third wheel, she drinks to calm her nerves and can’t seem to conquer her somnolence. As nightmarish visions torture her each night, the morning brings new cuts on her body that she does not recall. Touching on vulnerability, self-harm, and female friendships, Bleed with Me is the rare cabin in the woods where the danger arrives with the city folk.
D: Jens Dahl
Denmark, 107 min, North American Premiere
After her husband drops an injured woman off not at the hospital but at his cosmetics firm, Mia follows his trail to an underground facility where bio-hacking experiments are performed on female victims. As she begins to work out the truth, she finds herself trapped, branded and tortured. How will she escape and what exactly does her husband know? With shades of Cronenberg, and echoes of New French Extremity, Breeder lives in the nihilism of what humans will do to each other for themselves.
DEATH OF A ROCKSTAR
D: Röckët Stähr
USA, 90 min, Texas Premiere
In 2164, long after the banning of rock ‘n’ roll, a mad scientist clones the perfect rock star. This hero leads a group of underground rebels on a guerrilla tour to the docile masses, hoping to “rock-n-roll them free from their misery.” Written, recorded, sung, played, and animated by Röckët Stähr over thirteen years, this film is destined to take its place next to Yellow Submarine, The Wall, and Heavy Metal.
D: Gem Deger
Czech Republic, 87 min, North American Premiere
Waking up like a blank canvas, with his entire past forgotten and sharing his new fancy display-style home with a sexy stranger and his pet pig, Demir couldn’t be happier. His ‘roommate’ is his onscreen male idol, and Demir wants nothing more than to be possessed by this man and ignore the violent clues of how he got there, no matter how dark the passions between them become.
D: Tony Jopia
UK, 102 min, World Premiere
An astronomy field trip gets waylaid by a UFO crash and an adorable, injured alien. When the students take in the tiny visitor, they become all that stand in the way of a hit squad of bloodthirsty rival aliens desperate to kill their prey.
D: Carlos J. Matos
Three heroic hackers attempt to save their world from an evil electronic entity in this music video that wears its neon cyberpunk heart on its sleeve.
"A BETTER YOU"
Wooing his dream girl has never been easier in this modern steampunk metropolis – all Douglas needs is a customizable clone of himself that always says and does the right thing.
"A GRIEVANCE WITH GRAVITY"
D: Kelli Horan
Her body’s sudden rejection of gravity shows no sign of going away, but Zoe isn’t about to let that stop her from living her best life.
D: William Hellmuth
The sole survivor of a shipwreck crosses paths with a mysterious acquaintance via radio signal. With nothing else to live for, she makes it her mission to find him.
Teen Zahra escapes the stress of her family’s imminent move to a Martian colony via an underground disco in this tale of a girl caught between two worlds and cultures.
D: Brittany Clemons
When her brother is gunned down in a racially charged shooting, a young girl with mysterious powers doles out the worst punishment she can think of to the cop who killed him.
"DEUS OTIOSUS" ("THE IDLE GOD")
D: Mat Braddy
A recently widowed woman encounters the reclusive town wiseman. Other villagers view him as a God, but she isn’t so sure he deserves the honor.
D: Kaelan Selbach-Broad
A 1950s housewife’s tedious existence is shaken up one day by the possibility of a completely different world existing right outside her “perfect” home.
D: Wesley Mellott
A woman watches in horror as her vampire lover, having recently lost a child, spirals into madness.
D: Alejandro Ariel Martin
In this stunning stop-motion dystopia, the last being on Earth is starved for companionship and takes increasingly desperate measures to create a partner for itself.
D: Joelle Mae David
Ivan looks on helplessly as his favorite diner gets taken over by hipster aliens in this biting commentary on the speed of urban gentrification.
"I’LL BE BACK TOMORROW"
D: The Summers Brothers
After his partner is woken by an eerie nightmare, a man agrees to investigate a strange noise in their new house. It’s probably nothing.
D: Amara Mesnik
The world has been divided into parallel realities determined by social class. A young woman must decide whether to risk her status with a chance at love with someone who exists a tier below her.
Michael V. Brown
Computers aren’t the only ones who get viruses in this clever swipe at the “technology is bad for us” trope.
D: Josh Mawer
A time-hopping dating coach takes on his most personal assignment yet, trying his hardest to help the hopeless George romance the lovely Amy.
D: R.D. Womack II
Sophie has refused to date ever since the world suddenly became telepathic five years ago. An online suitor may just change her tune...as long as she confronts her own thoughts instead of worrying about his.
D: JJ Pollack
A late-night TV show host’s work is never done.
D" Ana Pasok, Iliya Pruskin
Go bananas, Be like banana man.
D: Razan Takash
In this meditation on motherhood, saleswoman Cybele faces the final test of her robotics agency’s latest product.
D: Violette Belzer, Rocky Grispen
With her oxygen supply dwindling fast, an astronaut-doctor is about to discover which lines she’s willing to cross in order to return home to her daughter.
D: Chelsea Jade McEvoy
Upon discovery of the horrible truth about their cargo, spaceship crewmates (and estranged couple) Taryn and Myfanwy must put their personal woes aside in order to survive.
"PERMITS AND APPROVALS"
D: Jackie Todd
This The Office-esque comedy shows that the Department of Time Travel Regulations is about as exciting and glamorous as any other government agency.
D: Silvia Conesa
Seeking refuge in the seemingly abandoned “Shagomatic 500” holographic booth, Charly enters into a battle of wits and charm with the resident sexual AI.
"Q: GHOSTLY REMOTE EFFECT"
D: Marcus Hanisch
The power dynamic between scientist P and gynoid Q grows murky as the two embark on a mysterious quest into nature.
"RAZE OF THE CYBORG"
D: Young-H. Lee
In order to rescue his girlfriend from a criminal cyborg gang, a man undergoes a shocking transformation with help from a black-market surgeon.
"SERIOUS MATTERS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT"
D: Josh Copeland
Electronic empathy is the new drug, and a rideshare driver who peddles it finds herself in too deep when she discovers an underworld of “junkies” hooked on this newfound pastime.
"SOMETHING DOESN’T FEEL RIGHT"
D: Fergal Costello
The killer Zipface has his work cut out for him terrorizing a group of teens in this send-up of slasher culture.
D: Michael Bartolomeo
A young couple’s mountain of dirty laundry won’t stop growing – and neither will its appetite.
D: Bruno du Bois
In the near future, only one country remains virus-free, but some are beginning to question the increasingly intrusive medical ordinances that come with the price of safe passage.
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