Now in its 15th year, Sci-Fi London is an annual international film festival that enjoys an unrivalled reputation as a launchpad for genre film. Always keen to challenge stereotypes and push the definition of what ‘sci-fi’ means, the festival has a reputation for programming a variety of exciting and independent films, bringing together the best science fiction and fantastic film from around the world.
And whilst we can’t cover every film shown at this years event, we can bring you a small selection of filmic highlights. First up: Einstein’s God Model and Teleios…
EINSTEIN’S GOD MODEL
Stars: Aaron Graham, Kirby O’Connell, Kenneth Hughes, Brad Norman, Darryl Warren, Karol Kent, Tiffany Scott, Andy Hannon, Mallory Bordonaro | Written and Directed by Philip T. Johnson
Using the science of Quantum Physics and String Theory, Einstein’s God Model takes the audience on a journey beyond the known universe. Director Philip T. Johnson uses love as the ultimate connection compelling his main character, Brayden, to fearlessly trust strangers who launch him into other dimensions in search of his fiance.
What film was THAT synopsis written for? Certainly not Einstein’s God Model. For what we get with this film is more akin to an ultra-low-budget horror tale – one of speaking to the dead, ghosts, and all that those tropes entail. Though Johnson wraps his story firmly in a sci-fi skin, name-dropping scientists, using “test subject” footage et al. All in an attempt to bring gravitas to a middle of the road story and hammy (often gloriously so) acting. The only thing that saves this film from total failure is some tremendous visual flourishes – though they come too little and too late in a lot of cases, or are pulled down by the ineptitude of the rest of the movie.
It would seem that Einstein’s God Model has lofty ideals, the film had physics professor Daniel Record (a veteran of the Apollo program and a Presidential award winner) consulting; and Dr. William Rosenblatt of Yale University, contributed as the medical consultant – yet all that technobabble does is make the film drier than a drunk man in the desert… And I think I’d rather watch THAT than sit through this mess again.
Stars: Sunny Mabrey, Lance Broadway, T.J. Hoban, Christian Pitre, Mykel Shannon Jenkins, Ursula Mills, Weetus Cren, Michael Nouri | Written and Directed by Ian Truitner
The deep space mining vessel Atromitos has been adrift for two years. It is suspected that most of the crew had brutally killed each other for reasons unknown. Genetically modified “superior” humans are sent to investigate the marooned ship and recover the only survivor. Under the stress of isolation in outer space, the crew begins to exhibit unexpected character flaws. Cracks appear within the group which threaten the success of the mission and their chances of getting home alive.
The complete antithesis of Einstein’s God Model, Teleios is one of those sci-fi movies that, despite using a lot of familiar tropes and cliches, still manages to rise above the generic flotsum of the DTV sci-fi market. It does so in the best way possible – it asks the kind of questions only science fiction can answer: questions about humanity, genetics, and how technology impacts the human condition.
Suprisingly, it would seem Ridley Scott’s classic Alien, and in particular the idea of a robot infiltrating the ranks of the space-faring crew for their own agenda, has had the biggest influence on Teleios. Well, that and sci-fi horror hybrid (and a film that has, over the years been subject to a LOT of reappraisal) Event Horizon. Though what should be noted about director Ian Truitner’s sci-fi film is that the clues to the story are laid bare in not only the title “Teleios”, which is Greek for complete/perfect and in the name of the mining vessel “Atromitos”, which also means fearless/dauntless… Make of that what you will.
If you like your sci-fi to mix action with intellect, don’t let the familar subject matter put you off, track down Teleios as soon as you can!