Get out your ray guns. The 38th annual Boston Science Fiction Film Festival is upon us, convening Friday through Feb. 18 at the Somerville Theatre. One of the longest-running genre festivals in the United States, SF38’s opening night film will be the US premiere of “Mars et Avril,” directed by Martin Villeneuve and co-written with his brother, Dennis Villeneuve (who helmed the acclaimed “Incendies”). Martin Villeneuve will be in attendance for the 7 p.m. screening.
Garen Daly, who has produced the event since 1987, says, “There’s nothing better in a long cold New England winter than to look forward to seeing hours upon hours of films with 600 to 700 of the friends you only see once a year. The marathon is ‘Brigadoon’-like. People from all over the country convene for one day a year to renew old acquaintances, talk film, insult the screen, and fire their ray guns.”
The Boston Science Fiction Film Festival is broken down into two parts: The Fest and The ’Thon. The Fest boasts nearly 200 international entries. The ’Thon ends the entire affair with a 24-hour movie marathon which includes about one dozen films, shorts, trailers, and contests such as best alien mating cry and aluminum foil hat. Among the highlights this year: the East Coast premiere of “War of the Worlds: The True Story” (Saturday at 7 p.m.). Produced by Susan Goforth, a Boston Conservatory alum, and the late Jack Gallo from Lowell, it’s described as “the eyewitness account of Bertie Wells, the last living survivor of the Earth/Mars War (1900) as he searches for his love amidst the destruction at the hands of Martian invaders.” “The History of Future Folk” (Saturday at 9 p.m.) is about two aliens who form a bluegrass band in Brooklyn. There will be a Q&A with the filmmakers after the screening. The ’Thon screens a shorts program that includes the Oscar-nominated “Death of a Shadow” starring Matthias Schoenaerts (“Rust and Bone”).
For a complete schedule, go to www.BostonSci-Fi.com.
The University of Massachusetts Boston launches its free monthly film series on Thursday with the Boston premiere of “The World Before Her,” followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Nisha Pahuja. Billed as “a provocative portrait of India and its current cultural conflicts during a key transitional era in the country’s modern history,” the film follows 20 young women from across India as they rigorously prepare for the Miss India pageant. Running through April 25, the UMB series, curated by Chico Colvard (“Family Affair”), showcases a mix of indie films paired with appearances by the filmmakers. All screenings are free and open to the public; they take place on Thursdays at 7 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom.
For more information, go to www.umb.edu/filmseries.
Biking for a cause
Anthony Barounis and Kitty Martin, who work at the restaurant 51 Lincoln in Newton Highlands, have gone off-menu to produce a documentary. “Ride Crazy: The Single Man March” follows Camilo Atehortua, a veteran of the Iraq war who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, as he rides his bicycle 520 miles from Boston to Washington, D.C. 51 Lincoln will host a screening of the film on Tuesday, with a portion of the proceeds donated to Bikes Not Bombs, a nonprofit in Jamaica Plain that supports sustainable transportation. There will be two screenings, at 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m., followed by a Q&A with Barounis and Atehortua. Chef Fernanda Tapia will provide Latin-inspired snacks and gourmet popcorn.
Tickets are $30. For reservations and information, call 617-965-3100.
Journalist David France, director of the Oscar-nominated documentary “How to Survive a Plague,” is the guest of honor at the Boston Society of Film Critics’ sixth annual awards ceremony on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Brattle Theatre. The BSFC voted France best new filmmaker and “How to Survive a Plague” best documentary for 2012. France will take part in a Q&A immediately following the film screening. BSFC member Joyce Kulhawik will emcee the ceremony, which will also honor members of the Boston film community for their contributions in 2012. Local awardees include the Independent Film Festival Boston; Sharon and Lisa Rivo of the National Center for Jewish Film; the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra and Coolidge Corner Theatre for the “Sounds of Silents” series; Arthur Singer and Ron Goodman, authors of the book “Boston’s Downtown Movie Palaces”; and Generoso Fierro, film programmer at MIT. While in Boston, France will also appear at a free event on Friday at 7 p.m. at the BU Cinematheque (640 Commonwealth Ave., Boston).
Middlesex Community College’s One World Series will host former CIA agent Tony Mendez, whose efforts to help six Americans escape from Iran inspired Ben Affleck’s “Argo” (Affleck plays Mendez in the film). Mendez will discuss “The Iranian Hostage Crisis and the Canadian Caper” on Feb. 13 at 9:30 a.m. in the Bedford campus cafeteria (591 Springs Road). He’ll be interviewed by his wife, Jonna Hiestand Mendez, who is also a retired CIA officer.
Admission is free and open to the public.For information, call 781-280-3633.
Faith Soloway celebrates Valentine’s Day with “Lesbian Movie Schlock Treatment,” a spoof in song and commentary on Feb. 14 at 8 p.m. at the Somerville Theatre. Soloway will screen “Claire of the Moon,” a 1992 classic lesbian film that features female authors who gather at a small northern coastal retreat to work on their writing. “We will watch the entire movie without stopping and I will sing, comment, and act, and maybe invite the audience to participate as well,” says Soloway, whose past shows include “Miss Folk America,” “Jesus Has Two Mommies,” and “The F Word.” “I had this idea a while ago when I first watched ‘Claire of the Moon.’ I think a lot of lesbians have sat through movies of this ilk. And I say ‘sat through’ because I can’t imagine anyone actually enjoying this movie, or most of the lesbian movies out there back then. So I want to invite the audience to watch it again with a schlock commentary.”
Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the box office or at
Meanwhile, in Newport, R.I., newportFILM presents two Valentine’s Day screenings of the new documentary “Love, Marilyn.” Drawing on never-before-seen personal papers, diaries, and letters, director Liz Garbus interviews actresses including Ellen Burstyn, Glenn Close, and Viola Davis about the impact Marilyn Monroe continues to have on their lives. Adam Braver, author of the new novel “Misfit,” based on the last days of Monroe’s life, will introduce the film.
Screenings are at 6:30 and 8:45 p.m. at the Jane Pickens Theater, 49 Touro St. For tickets and information, go to www.newportfilm.com.
Not just for kids
Filmmaker discussions, workshops, international features, and classic movies mark the fourth annual Providence Children’s Film Festival for children, teens, and families. It takes place Feb. 14–19 at three locations in downtown Providence. Highlights include “Kauwboy,” from the Netherlands, about a boy’s friendship with a bird; “Le Tableau” (The Painting), an animated film from France; “Head Games,” a documentary about concussions in sports directed by Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”); and “Wunderkinder,” a German film that follows three young friends unwillingly pulled into the origins of the Holocaust. Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times” will also screen at the event.
For more information, go to www.pcffri.org.Loren King can be reached at loren