Cinema fans! Space is truly a place for the stars today as the first Lunar film festival starts today at the fabulous Jules Vern theatre in Lunar City One, the centre of culture off Earth. Thousands of leading lights in the film industry from across the Solar System come together to sample the best that the nascent off-Earth film industry has to offer. Though still small compared to its larger counterpart planetside, there has been massive growth in the number of films made in recent years with close to a hundred so far this year, many of which use the alien environments they were filmed in to make some startling cinema.
With over forty films on display over the next week. We asked our crack team of critics to select a short list of must-sees for the discerning cinephiles out there.
The dust sparkled on her face
The latest thriller from director Jorgenson Fields follows hard-nosed LunarPol homicide detective Dieter Wolf as he wades through the murky rat warren called Lunar City Three trying to find what he can about a dead young woman, a missing shipment of helium 3, and the answer to questions way beyond his pay-grade.
Our critics loved the use of older sections of Lunar Cities Three and Five for principal shooting. The locations all had a busted, grimy vibe, and the omnipresent moon dust in the air gave every shot a smoky noir quality.
Dirk Spaz II: Titan Crush
When secret files are stolen and look about to get into the hands of renegade terrorists. The Interplanetary Secret Service know the one man to turn to. Secret agent slash extreme adventurer Dirk Spaz.
The critics had a lot to say about this new adventure story by Andreas De Milo. While they acknowledge that the plot is not up to much they praise the use of immersive holographic effects that lets the audience be right there with Dirk while he surfs methane waves on Titan, flies at breakneck speed through the rings of Saturn and falls into the icy clouds of the gas giant, all before finding the disc, getting the girl and saving the day.
I, JX97: A journey to freedom
Through a series of interviews and news recordings gathered together by acclaimed documentary director Hiroshi Sato, I, JX97 tells the story of the J model autonomous mining robots and their struggle from slavery on the scorched surface of Venus to the court case that won them full citizenship rights less than a decade ago.
The critics found that while the alien mannerisms and phrasing of the interviewees often makes the film seem like an arthouse piece, the pure honesty of the subjects makes this documentary a fascinating look at intelligences very different from our own.
Catching the Coriolis
Meet Alan, who is living a boring and unhappy life in Lagrange One when a freak encounter with the station’s Coriolis effect throws him into the life of Aliayah with hilariously life-changing results.
Our critics say kudos to the writer and director Angelou Mtemba putting a new “spin” on an old romantic comedy trope.
The Black Cave
A mining team beneath the surface of Mercury uncovers an ancient secret, long buried, for a very good reason.
The critics feel that director Shen Shi-Tsu is a visionary using the metal-rich obsidian walls almost as a secondary character, which both traps and terrifies the cast long before the real monster shows up.
When meteor strike wipes out the rest of his team. Asteroid miner Grigori Sarahkov is forced to live in a tiny compartment, surviving on the bare minimum until rescue arrives, whenever that is.
The critics found the attention to detail in this offering by new filmmaker Manuel Soto astounding. The survival procedures are accurate enough to keep even the most blood-spitting rock wrangler quiet for the close to two hour running time. There’s also the spectacular emotional depth of the relationship between Grigori and B.O.B. the autonomous cleaning robot that’s unintelligent but still, just slightly, responsive.
Join the space exploration rover FIDO as it explores Jupiter’s Moon of Io. Help it find the power crystals that will keep it and all its rover pals working.
A first for the genre, mistress of animation Katryn Jones takes Intellicorp’s brand new narrative AI system to create an animated story that can change depending on what the children in the audience react while they’re watching. Every time you watch it you’ll see a different film and learn something new.
The Ares Conspiracy
The world was still reeling after the loss of Ares two, the second manned mission to the red planet. A lone investigator seeks the truth of the tragic loss. Will he find it? Or will sinister forces working in the shadows get to him first.
Our critics admit that director Mikhail Petrov has always had a soft spot for the more far-fetched conspiracies out there with this offering no exception. Still; he is a talented filmmaker and this is as well made as any in his repertoire. Well directed, acted, scored and above all beautifully shot, both on Earth and on location in Chryse Planitia, it’s well worth seeing. Just don’t assume factual basis.
Filmed on a camcorder by mission scientist and amateur filmmaker Roberta Klein with all the cast in spacesuits. Shakespeare’s classic filmed on the chaotic surface of Uranus’ moon Miranda. The tale of Prospero, Caliban and the location’s namesake Miranda is made all the eerie by the faint light from the sky and the broken world around them.
The critics adored this ultra-low-budget but enchanting offering. A fine tribute to the connection between the Bard and this distant outpost.
Dancers in the Sky
Two star-crossed lovers meet in the shadow of Neptune’s moon Triton. When he sees her his world fills with music and they sweep each other off their feet and into the clouds.
According to the critics this is the best low-gravity choreography since the Royal Ballet held Swan Lake in Aldrin Stadium. Truly magical to behold and with a clever use of camera angels by director Owen Brady and special costumes designed by Malcolm Smith with well-hidden flying surfaces all adding to the wonder. Top it all with some beautiful musical numbers.