The most interesting new fantasy, sci-fi, horror, Asian and cult films crammed into 11 days at the Dendy.
When: Thursday, 22 March - Sunday, 1 April
Where: Dendy Newtown, 261-263 King Street, Newtown
How much: $12.50 - $22
Fantasy and sci-fi film fans like more than just wacky CGI monsters and the intricate protocols of futuristic starships; they know their genre scenarios are a back door to exploring contemporary social, political and personal issues with more impact than you can often get through a head-on attack. (Though the monsters get much love, too.)
The organisers of Fantastic Planet know this and have dedicated themselves to cramming the most interesting new fantasy, sci-fi, horror, Asian and cult films that might never make it to commercial release into 11 days at the Dendy Newtown. And, like a mogwai showered and fed after midnight, the festival keeps growing and expanding, this year uniting with grindhouse marathon A Night of Horror.
Opening night brings two very different films with two very intriguing propositions. The first, apocalyptic thriller The Divide, gets increasingly intense as it asks, what do you do if it's the end of the world and you're the last girl in the bomb shelter? The second, introspective indie Another Earth (winner of the Sloan Award at Sundance 2011), explores the emotional impact of humanity's discovery that our Earth has a replica elsewhere in the cosmos. Would you visit? Would you want to know if the other you had made the same mistakes?
Other highlights of the festival include the beautiful sound/spacescape of Love (produced and scored by Angels and Airwaves); the in-joke-rich Unicorn City, in which a group of roleplayers take their game beyond the tabletop and try to realise their own utopia; and the Memento-like Pig, in which a man tries to piece together his identity with no starting point besides the scrap of paper in his pocket.
If your tastes run to the more gruesome and adrenaline-stirring, A Night of Horror provides. There's the torture-iffic Crawl, set in an Australian country town; the torture-tastic Below Zero, which may be all made up by Edward Furlong; and the perverse, richly visual odyssey of The Theatre Bizarre, into which some unfortunate woman stumbles from a city street. For a break from the blood, catch the Lovecraft classic The Whisperer in Darkness, filmed in a fittingly classic way — in black-and-white, crackly 'Mythoscope' by the HP Lovecraft Historical Society.
Image from Another Earth (directed by Mike Cahill).