Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival Announces 2020 Lineup

The Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival has unveiled the full lineup for its eighth annual season. Held at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, NY, the festival runs from March 4-8, 2020. Events include film screenings and premieres, panel discussions, virtual reality demonstrations, and the launch of a new screenplay competition aimed at enhancing the filmmaking experience for audiences. As a platform for critical thinkers who explore the benefits and obstacles of science and technology, the festival showcases a variety of themes associated with independent storytelling.

The festival maintains its annual presence in New York, this time screened exclusively in the borough of Queens. “There is a strong cultural scene and appreciation for science fiction here,” said Daniel Abella, the founder and director of the event. “Everyone has been impacted by the advantages and disadvantages of this new world we live in and that knowledge strengthens the overall experience of the festival.”

Festivities begin March 4 with U.S. Premiere of the feature film Imperial Blue directed by Dan Moss and produced by David Cecil and Semulema Daniel Katenda. The film, which follows a drug smuggler on the quest to locate a sacred African herb that gives the power of prophecy, will be followed by a discussion with filmmakers.

A short film block runs on March 5 with the presentation of A Poem in Bamboo directed by Xufei Wu and Chan Yao Chang, an atmospheric study of a beautiful mansion plagued by strange noises. The program continues with titles such as Jesca Prudencio’s American Quartet, a revealing look at a small town bitterly divided when a young Muslim-American woman puts herself at risk when she shares her private, digitized memories with strangers in an attempt to triumph over hate, and Tim Hall’s Memory Unit about the mysterious hospitalization of an Alzheimer’s patient.

On Friday, March 6th, science fiction and horror shorts take center stage with Izzy Ezagui’s Good Head about a man immobilized in a strange room, and Jason Rogan’s Stalag III-C about a U.S. paratrooper in WWII who leads a daring escape from a Nazi POW camp and encounters even more evil beyond prison walls. Then, Chris Levitus greets viewers with a man bleeding from a hole in his chest in The Wound and Warren DiFranco Hsu brings forth a dystopian world in Obsolete Model, where the past must be changed to save the future.

The lineup on Saturday, March 7th features director Gisella Bustios, renowned scientist Dr. Ronald Mallet, and lecturer WandaGregoryon hand for the screening of A Brief History of Time Travel. The documentary takes viewers on a journey through the origins of time travel and its influence on the science fiction genre with commentary from distinguished members of the science community. The day continues with a block of shorts influenced by the work Philip K. Dick including Hekla Egilsdottir’s Beyond the Doorabout the influence of a peculiar cuckoo clock and the U.S. Premiere of After Ray directed by Natasha Halevi about a modified human struggling with memory loss. Also screening is the poignant Wide Awake in Bridgewater directed by Erik Lee and produced by Mark Lynch about a man who rediscovers the love of his life fifty years after her disappearance.

International sci-fi shorts starts the final day of the festival on Sunday, March 8th with the NYC Premiere of Eva – A Crispr Story directed by Puneet Bharill about a group of researchers confronting the unknown upon the implementation of a new technology. Further shorts include Christopher Armstrong’s Memory Man about a future society where psychic abilities are outlawed and Charles De Lauzirika’s Love Bite that shows the ramifications of a couple’s deadly bet during a zombie apocalypse. The night continues with two feature film presentations beginning with Anya directed by Jacob Akira Okada and Carylanna Taylor about a newlywed couple’s journey to parenthood that catapults them into a genetics mystery that threatens the future of humanity. Erin Berry’s Majic, which follows the discovery of a secret U.S. spy agency founded after the 1947 UFO incident in Roswell, is the festival’s closing night film. Filmmakers and guests of both features will be available for panels.

Expanding its outlook to incorporate the many stages of the filmmaking process into festival events, a screenplay competition has been introduced. “The screenplay is the beating heart of a film,” said Abella, who developed the category to help audiences value films beyond their visual aspects onscreen. “Our plan is to emphasize the importance and necessity of good storytelling.” The category semifinalists for Best Sci-Fi, Best Sci-Fi Prototyping, and Best Supernatural screenplays were chosen based on story, characterization, originality, readability, and attention to detail. “For sci-fi prototyping, the emphasis is on the design and architecting of an entire future world from scratch. Attention to detail and the impact of its surroundings is paramount,” said Abella. “For the sci-fi and supernatural categories, our focus is more on the characters themselves and how their inner world is affected by science, technology, nature, and politics.” Winners will be announced on Sunday, March 8th.

The festival will also continue its popular virtual reality demonstrations on March 7-8. Guests will experience Davey Jose’s Living with Spinal Cord Injury from the perspective of future patients restored to health by “the cure.” The Inner World of Miss Qdirected by David Wesemann will help users locate the whereabouts of a woman’s missing ghost and body.

As the festival remains committed to presenting innovative and thought-provoking independent films, Abella hopes audiences recognize the relevance of Philip K. Dick’s work. “PKD had his finger on the pulse of today’s society and our future,” he said. “His work resonates so well because he explored themes of artificial intelligence, the surveillance state, and the genetic modification of humans. He established himself as an icon of science fiction, which is truly the science of tomorrow.”

The festival film schedule follows the jump.

WEDNESDAY, March 4, 2020:
Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Ave, Astoria, NY 11106)
Feature Presentation
Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Imperial Blue (2019) — U.S. PREMIERE
Director: Dan Moss
Producer/Writer: David Cecil
Producer: Semulema Daniel Katenda
Editor: Callum Male
Run Time/Country: 93 min, UK/Uganda
Synopsis: Hugo Winter, a roguish American drug smuggler is on a quest for a mysterious African drug called Bulu which gives the user the powers of prophecy. In Uganda, he meets two sisters who can help him find the source of Bulu, but they have competing agendas. Kisakye, a devout Christian, wants to sell the drug to save her village, whereas Angela, a criminal hustler, is only interested in getting rich quick. As Hugo follows them deeper into the jungle, he begins to doubt whether his prophetic visions are leading him to death or glory.

Post-Film Q&A:
Producers David Cecil and Semulema Daniel Katenda, editor Callum Male, and cinematographer Ezequiel Romero will be present for a discussion after the screening.

THURSDAY, March 5, 2020:
Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Ave, Astoria, NY 11106)
Sci-Fi Shorts Program
Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm

A Poem in Bamboo (2019)
Director: Xufei Wu, Chun-Yao Chang
Run Time/Country: 5 min, USA
Synopsis: In 1920s, Southern China, a young bridegroom is visiting his aunt who lives alone in the distant mountains. Bamboo grows everywhere like an ocean. The mansion is beautiful and his aunt seems kind but there is a locked room in the attic with strange noises.

American Quartet (2019)
Director: Jesca Prudencio
Producer: Adam Grannick
Run Time/Country: 9 min, USA
Synopsis: In a 2030s small town bitterly divided over who belongs, a young Muslim-American woman puts herself at risk when she shares her private, digitized memories with strangers, challenging the status quo in the hope that empathy will triumph over hate.

Eli (2019)
Director: Nathaniel Milton
Run Time/Country: 15 min, USA
Synopsis: A 15-year-old musician believes he has an extraterrestrial
implant in his ear. This is a true story based on the filmmaker’s experiences within the realms of High Strangeness, Magical Thinking and Manic Delusion.

Hello, World (2019)
Director: Nathan Hong Fisher
Producer: Kristy Richman
Run Time/Country: 12 min, USA
Synopsis: In a near future love story about a couple’s journey to hold onto one another through life and death, they make the decision to continue their existence through technology.

Memory Unit (2019)
Director: Tim Hall
Run Time/Country: 15 min, USA
Synopsis: Unusual events surround the hospitalization of a father with Alzheimer’s disease.

Solstice (2019)
Director/Producer: Lisandro Perez-Rey
Producer: Cynthia Barrera, Laura Sweeney
Run Time/Country: 15 min, USA
Synopsis: During a brutal winter storm, a bartender befriends a homeless man and brings him home for a warm meal and an ancient ritual.

Vivir (2019)
Director: Lewis Rapkin
Run Time/Country: 3 min, USA
Synopsis: In the not-so-distant future, Earth has become infertile and the struggle to grow food off-planet takes an unsuspecting turn when a scientist makes a peculiar discovery.

Insight (2019)
Director: John K. Jones
Run Time/Country: 12 min, USA
Synopsis: Suspecting infidelity, an anxious wife uses simulation technology to practice safely confronting her husband in real life.

Unified Field Theory (2019)
Director: Christina Hibner
Run Time/Country: 5 min, USA
Synopsis: An experimental animation that follows two cosmic entities where the main character tries her best to learn about the nature of the universe from her teacher who is a master of the universe. Experiencing moments of enlightenment that transform the way she sees the world, the student opens her eyes to things she could not imagine.

Post-Film Q&A:
Filmmakers will be present for a discussion after the screening.

FRIDAY, March 6, 2020:
Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Ave, Astoria, NY 11106)
Sci-Fi, Horror and Supernatural Shorts Program
Time: 5:00pm – 7:00pm

Good Head (2019)
Director: Izzy Ezagui
Run Time/Country: 8 min, USA
Synopsis: A man awakens in a strange room to discover he’s immobilized. His fellow prisoner teases him mercilessly until he panics and short-circuits the collar keeping him conscious. The alarm sounds, drawing the wrath of their true tormentor.

Stalag III-C (2019)
Director: Jason Rogan
Run Time/Country: 12 min, Belarus
Synopsis: In the final days of World War II, a US paratrooper Joe Boyd leads a daring escape from a Nazi POW camp, only to face a more horrifying evil beyond the prison walls.

Tomorrow Might Be The Day (2018)
Director: Joséfa Celestin
Run Time/Country: 20 min, Scotland
Synopsis: A fanatic subjects his niece, whose faith wavers, to a baptism in order to restore her faith and ultimately save her from an impending doomsday flood.

The Wound (2018)
Director: Chris Levitus
Run Time/Country: 7 min, USA
Synopsis: A man wakes up bleeding from a hole in his chest.

Interminable – Trailer (2019)
Director: Aaron Huisenfeldt
Run Time/Country: 1 min, USA
Synopsis: The conglomerate Iridian is hacking minds using an optical implant
device used to channel the internet straight to the brain. A rebellion, led by the daughter of Iridian’s CEO, must stop the worldwide mind hack by their program called IRIS.

The Last Well (2018)
Director: Filip Filkovi?
Run Time/Country: 20 min, Croatia
Synopsis: The year is 2037 and Europe is in shambles. The owner of the last well with natural clean water lives in Croatia. After one of his sales of clean drinking water ends in bloodbath, he becomes a substitute father and a husband. But when the well dries out, he makes one last “trade.”

Concession (2019)
Director: Paul Odgren
Run Time/Country: 6 min, USA
Synopsis: Steph’s had enough, it’s a school night after all, until Michael touches her forehead and conjures a series of images that are impossible to explain. He forces her to confront the question: should she trust him and believe this outrageous claim that he can see other people’s thoughts? Or should she listen to her gut, call him crazy and never look back?

Obsolete Model (2019)
Director: Warren DiFranco Hsu
Run Time/Country: 12 min, USA
Synopsis: A sentient artificial intelligence awakens to a world in dystopian ruin and charges two androids, INJUN and ISEE to seek a model-borg named SARA.H, who can save it by altering her past.

Incandescent (2019)
Director: Alfred Thomas Catalfo
Run Time/Country: 15 min, USA
Synopsis: When a nomadic alien race blots out the sun, an anguished young teacher tries to hold on to her humanity in a withering world.

Post-Film Q&A:
Filmmakers will be present for a discussion after the screening.

SATURDAY, March 7, 2020:
Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Ave, Astoria, NY 11106)
Block 1: Feature Documentary Presentation
Time: 2:00pm – 4:00pm

A Brief History of Time Travel (2018)
Director: Gisella Bustillos
Run Time/Country: 68 min, USA
Synopsis: There’s one thing that Star Trek and Doctor Who fandoms have in common: time travel. This documentary takes you on a journey through the evolution of time travel from its origins and influence in science fiction to the exciting possibilities technology could yet uncover. Featuring Dr. Ronald Mallet (How To Build a Time Machine), Bill Nye (Bill Nye the Science Guy), Ted Chiang (writer of Story of Your Life), and Wanda Gregory (Director of Digital Technology and Culture at the University of Washington).

Post-Film Q&A:
Director Gisella Bustillos, scientist Dr. Ronald Mallet, and lecturer Wanda Gregory will be present for a discussion after the screening.

Block 2: Best of Philip K. Dick Shorts Program
Time: 4:00pm – 6:00pm

Ryoko’s Qubit Summer (2018)
Director: Yuichi Kondo
Run Time/Country: 17 min, Japan
Synopsis: KANUMA, an experimental world is created inside a quantum computer. Then one day, a few of its AI residents began to communicate with words undecipherable to man.

Beyond the Door (2018)
Director: Hekla Egilsdottir
Run Time/Country: 13 min, Iceland
Synopsis: A stagnant young couple named Noi and Irma are dealing with Irma’s depression. Noi buys Irma a cuckoo clock, reminiscent of the one her mother used to have when she was a child, in an attempt to cheer her. Irma’s monotonous, stay-at-home life takes a sudden turn with the introduction of her newfound friend, the cuckoo. Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick.

Nectar (2019)
Director: Anthony Zwartouw
Run Time/Country: 20 min, Canada
Synopsis: A man lives out his days in a drug-induced state, prisoner to a parasitical guard on a disturbing desert island of his own making, when he is awoken by the deep traumas of his past that he can no longer suppress.

After Ray (2019) — U.S. PREMIERE
Director: Natasha Halevi
Producer: Sean Gunn
Run Time/Country: 12 min, USA
Synopsis: In the aftermath of the singularity, Cole, the first “modified” human, struggles with memory loss, indicating an unstable future for humans and potential end to humanity.

Wide Awake in Bridgewater (2018)
Director/Producer: Erik Lee
Producer: Mark Lynch
Run Time/Country: 15 min, USA
Synopsis: In 1968, 18-year-old Michael Gates and Monica Dupré are enjoying an afternoon in the countryside when she disappears. Fifty-one years later, elderly Michael starts receiving phone messages from her, and he discovers what happened on that fateful day.

QTR (2019)
Director: Pat Bird
Run Time/Country: 1 min, USA
Synopsis: A classic mental exercise from Robert Anton Wilson’s “Prometheus Rising”.

Circadia (2019)
Director: Jacob Murray
Run Time/Country: 5 min, USA
Synopsis: Your attention is no longer yours. For the next four minutes, it belongs to her. She calls for liberation. She calls for you to snap out of the spell. Can you hear her? Will you demand silence?

Hashtag (2019)
Director: Ben Alpi
Writer: Kevin Rubio
Producer: Jyotika Virmani
Run Time/Country: 15 min, USA
Synopsis: In a looming future where social media celebrities dominate our culture, X is the world’s supreme online icon — but how far will she go to hold on to her popularity?

Post-Film Q&A:
Filmmakers, including Sean Gunn (After Ray) and Jacob Murray (Circadia), will be present for a discussion after the screening.

SUNDAY, March 8, 2020:
Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Ave, Astoria, NY 11106)
Block 1: International Sci-Fi Shorts Program
Time: 2:00pm – 4:00pm

Outer West – Trailer (2019)
Director: Jake Leister
Run Time/Country: 2 min, USA
Synopsis: West Coast pace prompts a travel nurse to accept a job in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Looking for the capital city’s postcard artistry and ease, he is instead greeted by another, entirely unexpected world…Outer West.

SIL and the Devil Seeds of Arodor (2019)
Director: Keith Barnfather
Writer: Philip Martin
Run Time/Country: 15 min, UK
Synopsis: A web series based on concepts from the BBC series Doctor Who. SIL is worried, very worried, which doesn’t keep his reptilian skin in the best condition. Confined in a cold detention cell on the moon, awaiting a deportation hearing for trial on drugs offences on Earth, he faces a death sentence if the application is successful and he is found guilty.

Eva – A Crispr Story (2018) — NYC PREMIERE
Director: Puneet Bharill
Run Time/Country: 22 min, Germany
Synopsis: Researchers have achieved a clinical milestone using CRISPR technology to transplant a genetically modified pig liver into a human embryo but face unforeseen consequences.

Those Beautiful Moments (2019)
Director: Vasily Chuprina
Run Time/Country: 14 min, Russia
Synopsis: The story of a scientist on the search for eternal beauty and life.

Nameless (2019)
Director: Luca Nistler
Run Time/Country: 2 min, Italy
Synopsis: A child-robot talks about her dream to her mother.

Memory Man (2019)
Director: Christopher Armstrong
Run Time/Country: 12 min, UK
Synopsis: In a future where psychic abilities are outlawed, the Memory Man makes a living dealing with uncomfortable memories for other people. Upon the arrival of a hostile new client, he is forced to confront unfinished business of his own.

Jump (2018)
Director: Josh Mawer
Run Time/Country: 12 min, Australia
Synopsis: George is all elbows when it comes to talking to Amy. But his time-traveling dating coach knows that persistence makes perfect…probably.

Love Bite (2019)
Director: Charles de Lauzirika
Run Time/Country: 15 min, USA
Synopsis: Taking refuge in an abandoned cargo truck during the Zombie Apocalypse, a dysfunctional couple and their dog find their lives on the line when they make a deadly bet over how the undead virus spreads. Is a simple love bite now a death sentence? And how far will someone go to be proven right? Directed by the producer of Blade Runner: The Final Cut (2007).

Heliocentric (2019)
Director: Mike McGraw
Run Time/Country: 4 min, USA
Synopsis: Boxer, Verve, Campbell and Herman teach Naomi Money that the Sun revolves around the Earth, foiling her quasi-evil plan, and schooling her about Ptolemy, Galileo and Copernicus in the process.

Post-Film Q&A:
Filmmakers, including Keith Barnfather (SIL and the Devil Seeds of Arodor) and Puneet Bharill (Eva – A Crispr Story), will be present for a discussion after the screening.

Block 2: Feature Presentation
Time: 4:00pm – 6:00pm

Anya (2019)
Director: Jacob Akira Okada, Carylanna Taylor
Run Time/Country: 80 min, USA
Synopsis: A contemporary sci-fi love story about newlyweds whose seemingly simple decision to have a baby catapults them to the center of an explosive genetics mystery with far-reaching consequences for their child and the future of humanity.

Post-Film Q&A:
Directors Jacob Akira Okada and Carylanna Taylor will be present to introduce the film and for a discussion after the screening alongside NYU developmental biologist Yelena Bernadskaya.

Block 3: Feature Presentation
Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Majic (2019)
Director/Writer: Erin Berry
Writer: David Pluscauskas
Run Time/Country: 82 min, USA
Synopsis: In Washington, DC on the eve of the 2008 presidential election, Bernwood, an anti-conspiracy video blogger meets with an old man claiming to have worked for the legendary Majestic-12 (aka “Majic”), a secret U.S. spy agency created after the UFO incident at Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. So begins her trip down the rabbit hole looking for answers as reality as she knows it, or knew it, begins to unravel. Starring Paula Brancati (Slasher), Richard Fitzpatrick (Good Will Hunting), Michael Seater (Life With Derek) and Paulino Nunes (The Expanse).

Post-Film Q&A:
Director Erin Berry, co-writer David Pluscauskas and actor Richard Fitzpatrick will be present for a discussion after the screening.

SATURDAY, MARCH 7 and SUNDAY, March 8, 2020:
Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Ave, Astoria, NY 11106)
Virtual Reality Series
Time: All Day

Living with Spinal Cord Injury (2019)
Director: Davey Jose
Run Time/Country: 2 min, UK
Synopsis: A science fiction inspired VR 360 short-film based around an 18 oil canvas series. Curated from the perspective of the future where spinal injuries can be fixed by “the cure.” The artwork shows a future audience what it felt like to live with a disruptive injury.

The Inner World of Miss Q (2019)
Director: David Wesemann
Writer: Tobias Bieseke
Run Time/Country: 8 min, Germany
Synopsis: In this virtual reality there are two worlds, the inner world of the protagonist and a trial where a judge and a lawyer try to find out who is the owner of Miss Q’s ghost and body. Adapted from a story by Stanislaw Lem.

SUNDAY, March 8, 2020:
Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Ave, Astoria, NY 11106)
Screenplay Competition
Time: 8:00pm (Winners announced during Awards Ceremony)

After Hebden
Writer: David Kirkham
Category: Best Sci-Fi Screenplay/Best Sci-Fi Prototyping Screenplay
Synopsis: In the 21st century, humankind was had to choose between Paradise or Oblivion. We chose the latter. Only a teenage girl named Hebden can save us now.

Writer: Andronica Marquis
Category: Best Sci-Fi Screenplay
Synopsis: A young Earth City girl, Rain, a Red by birth, marked, starving and desperate, seizes an opportunity to escape to Meccanda, a planet rumored to hold a cure, that she might save her young brother, Walker, the last of her family, who struggles against the symptoms of The Touched. The price of starship passage? Her virginity to the ship?s captain.

Writer: Andrew Pelosi
Category: Best Sci-Fi Prototyping Screenplay
Synopsis: A desperate halfwit attempts to cheat on an exam in a future where IQ testing determines who lives and who gets turned into chalk.

Writer: Alexandra Ruggieri
Category: Best Supernatural Screenplay
Synopsis: Dawn is pregnant but something magical happens one night when she witnesses an abduction.

House in Haunted Woods
Writer: Drew Henriksen
Category: Best Supernatural Screenplay
Synopsis: A young couple buys an abandoned house as an investment with plans to live by their agoraphobic uncle. After the purchase, the house seems to improve on its own. As people begin to disappear in the woods surrounding it, the ghosts make their presence known.

Awards Ceremony
Time: 8:00pm – 9:00pm

Official selection filmmakers, screenwriters, and special guests will be in attendance when awards are presented to the category winners of The 2020 Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival.

  • “The core of my writing is not art but truth.” – Philip K. Dick

The Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival launched in 2012 as New York City’s first and only festival of its kind. The festival honors the enduring legacy of novelist Philip K. Dick, whose enormously effective works composed of fictional universes, virtual realities, technological uprising, dystopian worlds and human mutation served as a significant observation of the current state of society. Organized by individuals and filmmakers who understand the difficulties and challenges of presenting unique narratives in a corporate environment, the festival embraces original concepts and alternative approaches to storytelling in the form of independent science fiction, horror, supernatural, fantasy and metaphysical films. Since 2013, the festival has held additional gatherings in France, Germany, Poland, Rotterdam, Los Angeles, and in 2020, will debut the festival in London.

[Based on a press release.]

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2 thoughts on “Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival Announces 2020 Lineup

  1. “Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival” is rather lengthy, but presumably they’d rather not use a pithier name like “Dick Pics Festival”.

  2. Pingback: AMAZING NEWS FROM FANDOM 2/16/20 - Amazing Stories

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