Sci-fi in Somerville, injustice revisited, a festival debut
Few annual local film events can boast the longevity of the Boston Science Fiction Film Festival. Celebrating its 44th year and billing itself as the longest-running genre film festival in the United States, it runs Feb. 8-18 at the Somerville Theatre. This phantasmagoria of international features, shorts, panel talks, and sci-fi classics, including the original “King Kong” (1933) and “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” (1954), leads into the 24-hour (film marathon), which will screen such genre classics as John Carpenter’s “Escape From New York” (1981) and Ernest B. Schoedsack’s “Dr. Cyclops” (1940).
The festival opens with Lisa Down’s documentary “Life After Flash,” which follows “Flash Gordon” actor Sam Jones in the years after he starred in the 1980 cult classic. The 7 p.m. screening will be followed by a discussion with Jones and Downs.
Festival founder Garen Daly notes that the fest boasts several prominent women-directed films this year, including the New England premiere of Arwen Curry’s documentary “Worlds of Ursula Le Guin” (Feb. 14), which examines the late author’s life and art.
Eirini Konstantinidou’s “Mnemophrenia” (Feb. 11) explores a new psychosis that blurs the lines between real and artificial memories created by virtual reality. Curry, Downs, Konstantinidou and visual effects artist Catherine Craig will participate in a panel talk on Women in SciFi, at Orleans restaurant, in Davis Square, on Feb. 9, at 1:30 p.m. Craig and Ed Kramer, who worked on “The Mummy” (1999), will provide live commentary during a screening of that film Feb. 10 at 7 p.m.
A number of films have local ties. Rutland, Vt., filmmaker David Giancola’s sci-fi-action comedy “Axcellerator” (Feb. 9) stars Jones, of “Flash Gordon” fame. Robert Heske, of Shrewsbury, will be present for the world premiere and post-screening question-and-answer session of his documentary “Afraid of Nothing” (Feb. 12), which explores what happens to energy after death. “Abducted: New England” (Feb. 12) is about alien abductions and abductees in New England. Director Bill Brock will be in attendance. Natick native Paul Salamoff will be on hand with his debut feature, “Encounter” (Feb. 16), starring Luke Hemsworth and Anna Hutchinson, about the consequences of the discovery of an alien object in a country field.
The closing night film is the world premiere of Bruce Wemple’s “Lake Artifact,” a sci-fi thriller about a group of friends who head for a weekend getaway in the woods and mysteriously start to turn against each other.
Go to bostonscifi.com.
Roxbury-based filmmaker Clennon L. King (“Passage at St. Augustine: The 1964 Black Lives Matter Movement That Transformed America”) introduces his latest documentary, “Fair Game: Surviving a 1960 Georgia Lynching,” at the Boston Athenaeum on Feb. 7, 6 p.m. The screening helps mark Black History Month. The film is about James Fair Jr., a 24-year-old black Navy veteran from New Jersey who was stopped in rural Georgia on a road trip to Florida. In just three days he was tried and convicted for the rape and murder of an 8-year old girl. “Fair Game” chronicles Alice Fair’s nearly two-year fight to rescue her son from a county notorious for lynching. “Fair Game” also screens Feb. 21 at the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists in Roxbury, with King on hand for a post-screening discussion.
Go to bostonathenaeum.org or ncaaa.org.
New fest in town
The Boston Jewish Film Festival will present the inaugural Boston Israeli Film Festival Feb. 7-14, offering a slate of comedies, dramas, and documentaries from Israel at several area venues. The opening night film is director Avi Nesher’s family drama “The Other Story,” which screens at the Brattle Theatre at 7 p.m.
Go to bostonjfilm.org.