Sci-Fi-London Day Three: Future-set fairytale, a shape-shifting jellyfish and aliens

Sci-Fi-London Day Three: Future-set fairytale, a shape-shifting jellyfish and aliens

There is plenty to look forward to at day three of this year’s Sci-Fi-London film festival. We review the movies showing on 2 June 2023…

It’s day three of the 2023 Sci-Fi-London film festival, which is taking place over several central London cinemas between 31 May – 6 June 2023 (there are still tickets available and you can buy them here!).

Here are the SciFiNow reviews from Day Three of the festival…

Once Upon A Time In The Future: 2121 (Bir Zamanlar Gelecek: 2121, 2022) UK Première, 2 June 8.30pm, Picturehouse Central

The very title of Serpil Altin’s feature debut is also a statement of intent for this fairytale set in the future. Here families, forced underground by ecological disaster on the surface, are dependent on a System whose once revolutionary nature has led to built-in strife. Here, amid constant scarcity, Younger Generations are idolised, Middle Generations are tolerated for their labour and childrearing, and Older Generations are disposable, with the eldest member of a family killed and harvested for organs every time a newborn arrives.

When a woman (Selen Öztürk) has an unplanned pregnancy, her husband (Çagdas Onur Öztürk) and daughter (Sukeyna Kiliç) are rather more delighted than the grandmother (Ayseni Samlioglu). In her youth, grandma had helped set up the System, but now her only hope is to pass on her own spirit of rebelliousness to her daughter and granddaughter, even if they have, to differing degrees, become indoctrinated by a regime that will ultimately murder them. Think Logan’s Run, in subterranean bunkers, surreally allegorising the inter-generational tensions in any ‘happy’ family. Meanwhile the apple with which the film opens and closes marks this underground world as both hermetic Eden and entrapping dystopia where true happiness lies beyond the bounds.

Ozma (2023) World Première, 2 June, 5.45pm, Prince Charles Cinema

“Every night I wake up, or something wakes me up, and I have that same sense of disorientation.”

Jeff (Ferdy Roberts) conducts this imaginary conversation with his late wife Chloe (Alice Margaroli), from whose loss he is still reeling – but in the wee hours of this night, Jeff will wake to find, outside his East London home, a ‘hyper-evolved shape-shifting jellyfish’ called Ozma (and voiced by Eva Magyar) who, having commandeered Jeff’s internal monologue via telepathy, asks him to transport her to the Thames before her alien pursuers (Jun Noh, Victoria Moseley), disguised as police on bikes and armed with cucumbers, can seize her.

Writer/director Keith John Adams’ monochrome feature debut tracks our unlikely hero as he, still in his dressing gown, cycles across nocturnal London – or at least dreams that he does – on a surreal mission that is accompanied by various impossibly intradiegetic musicians playing instruments as varied as the krar, the dulcimer and the shakuhachi, as well as more traditional jazz combos. It is all at once city symphony, Egyptological noir, oneiric odyssey and heady tale of psychic healing,

The Warm Season (2022) UK Première, 2 June, 8.30pm The Garden Cinema

Little girl Clive (Mia Akemi Brown) is taking photographs in New Mexico, 1967, when a stranger calling himself Mann (Michael Esparza) appears in a flash and asks her to look after a glowing blue stone until his return. He is then taken away by men in black. 25 years later, Clive (Carie Kawa) is married to Mitch (Daniel Dorr) but still waiting for her Mann, and unable to move on from the rundown motel where she looks after her ageing mother (Cynthia Mace).

When the alien is released by a renegade government agent (a show-stealing Gregory Jbara), Clive must relocate the stone, work out her small but significant place in this cosmic confluence of events, and contemplate what kind of future she wants now that she can finally let go of the past. Even as Janet Grillo’s desert-set slow burn tracks Clive’s spiritual and psychological journey, it also cynically suggests that her problems can be solved by money – while subtly anticipating further apocalypses to come where no amount of money can help.

Sci-Fi-London will be taking place between 31 May and 6 June. Keep it with SciFiNow as we review the movies on each day of the festival.