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Scene Here: Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival returns to Somerville Theatre

“Junk Head” will screen during the Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival.Boston Science Fiction Film Festival

The annual rite known as the Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival will bring genre fans to the Somerville Theatre to share the experience of watching science fiction films from around the world. Running Feb. 9-19, the festival turns 43 this year, which organizers say makes it the oldest genre festival in the country and one of the oldest in the world.

The longevity is due to the event’s efforts to keep the programming adventurous, fun, and decidedly weird. The opening night feature is the US premiere of “Junk Head,” a stop-motion animation film from Japanese writer-director-actor Takahide Hori. It’s followed by the East Coast premiere of the supernatural thriller “Ayla,” from the Boston-born writer-director who goes by the name Elias. It’s about a man who, haunted by the mysterious death of his 4-year-old sister, brings her back to life 30 years later as an adult woman, with dire consequences.


The sci-fi comedy “Andover” (Feb. 10) is set in the Massachusetts town because Los Angeles-based writer-director Scott Perlman liked the word play (over and over) for his tale of a genetics professor who repeatedly clones his dead wife in a desperate attempt to get her back exactly as she was. The cast includes Jonathan Silverman, Jennifer Finnigan, Richard Kind, Beth Grant, and Angela Kinsey. Perlman and producer Steven Bauer will both be in attendance for a post-screening talk.

Local filmmakers get the spotlight on Feb. 12. Boston University grad Liam O’Donnell’s “Beyond Skyline” is about a detective’s dogged attempts to free his son from a nightmarish alien warship. It stars Frank Grillo, Betty Gabriel, Jonny Weston, and Yayan Ruhian. It’s followed by writer-director-actor Sam Vanivray’s action thriller “Brute Sanity,” about an FBI-trained neuropsychologist, a thief, and her insane ex-boss who tries to thwart their efforts to find a reality-altering device.

Director S.A. Halewood will participate in a Women in the Filmmaking Industry panel on Feb. 15, as well as join in a discussion with the audience after the world premiere screening of her “Division 19,” a Detroit-set action thriller. It’s followed by the US premiere of “Paradoxical,” a rare sci-fi drama out of Taiwan from writer-director Mu-Ming Tsai.


The fest is known for programming campy films alongside genuine chills and thrills. That’s the allure of “House Shark” (Feb. 16), described as a “low-budget, raunchy, hilarious B-flick horror movie about a predatory land shark living in an ex-cop’s house.”

Closing out the festival is Wales native Peter Stray’s horror comedy “Canaries” (Feb. 17) about an alien invasion that coincides with a New Year’s Eve party in a Welsh valley. Stray will be on hand for a post-screening discussion.

That concludes the festival proper, but there’s plenty more on tap. The ’Thon starts at noon on Feb. 18 and runs for the next 24 hours. The many features in this movie party include “Night of the Living Dead”; “Frankenstein” (celebrating the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s book, which many consider the first science fiction novel); the 1920 German silent “Algol: Tragedy of Power,” with live musical accompaniment; “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”; “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad”; the original “Superman”; “Colossal”; “Looper”; “The Time Machine”; and “World Without End.”

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Story and song

Seattle-based artist, writer, and director Clyde Petersen’s “Torrey Pines,” an autobiographical, stop-motion animated film, will screen, accompanied by a live band, at ArtsEmerson’s Black Box Feb. 14-17. “Torrey Pines” is billed as “a trans-queer-punk, coming-of-age story, rich with ’90s pop-culture references — everything from ‘Star Trek’ to Nintendo.” Seattle punk band Your Heart Breaks, will perform the film’s score live at the screenings. The band features Petersen and cellist Lori Goldston, who has played with Nirvana, David Byrne, and Cat Power,


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