Philip K. Dick Film Festival Announces 2020 Lineup, Screenwriting Competition and VR Series

THE PHILIP K. DICK SCIENCE FICTION FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES 2020 LINEUP AT MUSEUM OF THE MOVING IMAGE IN ASTORIA, NY

Festival Introduces Sci-Fi and Supernatural Screenplay Competition

Guests To Experience Film Premieres and Virtual Reality Series

The Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival, a celebrated gathering that spotlights the literary genius of novelist Philip K. Dick, has unveiled the full lineup for its eighth annual season. 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. Held at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, NY, the festival runs from March 4-8, 2020.

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 on Wednesday, March 4th 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 Thursday, March 5th with the presentation of A Poem in Bamboodirected 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.

A dynamic lineup on Saturday, March 7th features director Gisella Bustios, renowned scientist Dr. Ronald Mallet, and lecturer Wanda Gregory on 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 Door about 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 Saturday, March 7th and Sunday, March 8th. “Virtual reality enables us to explore our world in a more immersive way,” said Abella. “Through this simulation, we can better understand other environments and the challenges in people’s lives.” 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 Q directed 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.”

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 Theiry (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 Filković

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.

Rain

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 shipʼs captain.

Egghead

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.

Dawn

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.

Festival Passes

Passes to screenings can be purchased at https://www.thephilipkdickfilmfestival.com.

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Ash Hamilton is not only the owner of Horror-Fix.com, but also one of its major contributors. A long time horror movie enthusiast, Ash has lent his personality to radio and television and continues to support his favorite genre through his writing and art. He also loves beef jerky and puppies... and low-grade street-quality hallucinogens.

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