Film industry journalist, festival consultant and founder of the website Screen-Space Simon Foster has joined the SciFi Film Festival as Program Director.

“I’ve been trying for some time to get Simon to free himself from his many film industry commitments and focus in on our festival, “ says Festival Director Tom Papas, who first spoke with Foster (pictured, above) in 2016 about working together on an expansive vision for his event.

“The time was right to make some bold decisions about the path we wanted to forge, and Simon’s vision matched the breadth and complexity of our plans,” says Papas, whose festival celebrates its 5th anniversary in 2018.

With a background that includes 4 years as editorial contributor at SBS Movies and Head of Jury for both the Russian Resurrection Film Festival and Sydney’s A Night of Horror Film Festival, the Sydney-based Foster promises the SciFi Film Festival will reflect the most contemporary trends in both international and local science fiction cinema.

“The submissions suggest the global community of science fiction filmmakers are embracing humanistic themes with inspired artistry at a moment in history that demands strong cinematic voices,” said Foster, whose role will be to enhance the unique movie-going experience established by the event’s founder. “Tom has worked tirelessly to forge the festival’s reputation, both with local audiences and within the international film festival circuit,” he says. “It is an honour to have been entrusted with helping to shape the future of the SciFi Film Festival”.

In addition to curating the 2018 program with Papas, Foster will be contributing exclusive content to in the lead-up to the festivals launch on October 18. Here, the new program director offers up five science fiction films that have influenced his love of the genre. “There are the accepted classics, like 2001 A Space Odyssey and Metropolis and Solaris and Blade Runner, that I know are stunning works,” he says, “but I’ve gone with a few films that helped form my passion for science fiction…”

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977, Dir: Steven Spielberg) Star Wars thrilled me, like it did every other 10 year-old boy, but it was the other blockbuster from 1977 that haunted me (and does to this day). It stands as Spielberg’s most personal epic, as well as being the great legitimiser of ‘science-fiction’ as a serious dramatic genre. Confirmed Spielberg as a master visionary with unparalleled sci-fi storytelling instincts (see also E.T., MINORITY REPORT, A.I. and READY PLAYER ONE)

ALPHAVILLE (1965, Dir: Jean-Luc Godard) On a dystopian future planet, an American gumshoe faces off against an evil ruler who has outlawed love and self-expression. Godard’s sci-fi riff on film-noir detective stories confounds and confuses yet remains his most stylistic, assured and mesmerising work. Good luck hiding your ‘love’ and ‘self-expression’ when face-to-face with Godard’s long-time muse, the angelic Anna Karina.

THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE 8TH DIMENSION (1984; Dir: W.D. Richter) Doesn’t make a lick of sense, but no more inspired sci-fi, rock’n’roll, inter-dimensional, romantic-comedy adventure has ever been made. Imagine a Hollywood where the ‘boardroom suits’ would roll their big-budget dice on something as insanely original as W.D Richter’s hilarious, hair-raising vision?!? Early Jeff Goldblum; insane John Lithgow.

SLEEPER (1973; Dir: Woody Allen) When Woody Allen tolerators mutter, “I wish he’d make funny movies, like his old ones,” they are talking about Sleeper (and probably Love & Death and Annie Hall, too). Allen’s sci-fi satire/farce is a side-splitting takedown of overly-serious future visions like George Lucas’ THX-1138, made just two years prior yet unwatchable today next to Allen’s timeless gags and prescient gadgetry.

STARSHIP TROOPERS (1997, Dir: Paul Verhoeven) Actually impossible to split the sci-fi stunners of Dutch bad-boy Verhoeven; any other day, this spot might have been taken by Robocop or Total Recall (or the under-valued Hollow Man, just quietly). His ‘adaptation’ of Robert A. Heinlein’s cult tome catches him at his most boldly satirical, bracingly bloodthirsty and fearlessly funny.

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