Minor Premise [2020, SciFi London 2020]

“I’m talking about a machine calibrated to the individual… perhaps changing yourself, for the better…”


This film, directed by Eric Schutz, follows neuroscientist Ethan Kochar (played by Sathya Sridharan) who is attempting to complete his late father’s legacy, advancing his R10 technology which can map legible memories. When we are first introduced to Ethan, his experiments are hazy at best and it appears he is somewhat of a chaotic recluse, holed up in his house obsessed with his experiments. It is clear that the experiments are having a massive toll on his body as he experiences multiple blackouts and internal bleeding. He is determined that something is missing and he will find the answer.

Ethan starts to spiral as the experiments unfold. One day he receives a previously unseen notebook (which appears to have belonged to his father) and finds an equation which could be the missing link. He hopes that the technology will be able to booster cognitive functions. However, the equation causes his blackouts to become more frequent, and soon he realises that his consciousness has been fractured into separate emotions, each capable of controlling six minutes at a time. With the help of his (ex?) girlfriend and colleague Alli, he struggles to make sense of the situation as it becomes more and more dangerous and time is running out!

I really enjoyed this movie. It’s a new concept that I’ve not seen explored except for in the Pixar film ‘Inside Out’, but it would be like if ‘Inside Out’ had a seedy underbelly(!) Like if Happy decided, unlike its actual end where Happy realises you need all emotions to be a healthy person, that instead it was going to try to MURDERRR all the other emotions… Pretty dark. Ethan becomes more and more erratic as the film goes on and I thought he acted these conflicting emotions really well. There’s one bit in the movie where Ethan is laughing and it’s repeated later. Someone mentioned that there was a spooky shadow to look out for in that scene, but for me repeating this scene made me question where in the timeline we as viewers were experiencing the story. I wondered if the beginning was actually the end at one point. Very cleverly done. It’s disorientating when you take a memorable scene like that and intersperse it in multiple points of a movie because you then have nothing to pinpoint where you are, like you have a broken compass.

The fact that most of the film was shot in Ethan’s house really adds to this darkness, both actually and metaphorically. It added to this idea of Ethan being this cooped up recluse.

I loved seeing Sathya in this role. It’s uncommon to have a South Asian person playing a lead in a film, so this was refreshing to see. Sci-Fi definitely needs more diversity so I commend films that celebrate diversity and show real loving family dynamics of People Of Colour and not some shitty caricature. At the Q&A I asked if this was an intentional move, and Eric mentioned that he was just the right guy for the role; that they found him in the casting stage and he perfectly embodied the intellectual and brooding that the character needed, so the script was adapted accordingly.

I enjoyed the soundscape of the film as well. The film seemed to use a lot of nature sounds. Obviously there was whoosing sounds of (what appeared to be) blood in the margins of emotional changes Ethan was experiencing, but there were also prominent sounds of rain and water. It was done in a way that felt as if it was a call-back to an earlier memory. You know how memories are sometimes dreamlike and you’ll remember things in a vague sort of way… The sound of a babbling brook, the rain on a window… and often you only remember a snippet of it. That’s how I interpreted those different sounds. I don’t know if that was intentional, but that’s how I experienced it.

I do have a couple criticisms. I felt like the inclusion of Ethan’s line manager (I forget his name) might have been a bit unnecessary. I get that he was being used as a device to show just how lost Ethan had become, but it’s as if there were zero consequences to Ethan’s actions towards this guy. We see him later and he’s hobbling a bit but it seems like there should have been more dire consequences, particularly to Ethan for having done what he did to him. I dunno, I guess a lot of ‘mad scientist’ science fiction films take a path where the scientist is hauled off to prison and I definitely did not want that for this film, but it was a bit strange to me that there were zero academic consequences. He does hand off the project, but that’s his choice. It’s not imposed on him. Secondly, at one point I thought maybe the periods of emotions could have been defined in a clearer way with text, e.g. SECTION 1, SECTION 2, but I realised that probably wouldn’t work considering how the story later unfolds. It would take away from the confusion about which emotion was coming next. It’s great, though, that Ethan/the director used time as a function to pinpoint the changes because it meant there were anchors that you could get a hold of as the viewer.

So all in all, great concept. Well acted. The science was legit; it was interesting to consider what version of self we are from one emotion to the next. It’s a nice identity thought-exercise. The hazy nature of the film was enjoyable and it represented the nature of memories well. The ending was super chilling and made me question everything. It’s an enjoyable watch! Check it out! I hear there is going to be a sequel called Major Premise (rad title, by the way) so look out for that. I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes in future.

FYI Minor Premise is available to watch on Amazon Prime (for USA residents).

Or watch it here. You will need to purchase a film or festival pass.

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Cosmic Candy [2020, SciFi London 2020]

“You must not do the things I do…”


Cosmic Candy almost didn’t happen due to budget constraints but I’m so glad it did. This film – a first time feature film for director Rinio Dragasaki – follows protagonist Anna. She works in a supermarket which stocks a product called ‘Cosmic Candy’ which is “a potent version of Space Dust/Pop Rocks that sends its user into a dreamlike, hallucinogenic state”. In real life, Anna’s world is drab and seems to be orderly which is illustrated beautifully through the almost militarily organised shelves at the shop and the shelves in her home, but behind the curtain Anna is spiralling. She cannot function in real life without some sort of drug.

One day her whole world is turned upside down by a young girl called Persa who has been abandoned by her father. He has supposedly told her he will be back for her. Anna is faced with caring for this child who pulls her more and more to reality and brings to the light her idiosyncrasies.

I really liked Anna’s character. She was a pretty complicated, dysfunctional person who just wasn’t capable of dealing with normality and had this childlike personality. You could imagine that she was a teenager and not a 30-something year old but she is also capable of change, and that’s what is so refreshing about her character. I noticed that as the film progressed you see that the shelves and the tidiness around Anna gets more chaotic as she unravels, and I really liked that device.

The visuals for this film are really really good. It’s trippy and vibrant and shows you the inner workings of Anna’s mind while she is on Cosmic Candy. However, it’s not all unicorns and rainbows. There’s this repeated paranoia element within the trippyness, which if you have taken drugs and had a bad trip you will probably recognise. There are multiple moments in the film where Anna is at the centre of a larger audience’s ridicule, i.e. pointing, laughing and so on, but it seems like it’s probably all in her mind. It’s definitely the stuff that nightmares are made of, and seems to stem from this thing of wanting to be accepted when in reality she is kind of a loner (though some of that may be of her own choosing).

I liked the inclusion of (I think???) Debussy’s music through these weird celestial keyboard sounds which perfectly matches the trippy vibe of the movie. I also enjoyed the mix of ethereal, theramin sounds, and then also the very quaint, fun pop and electro songs, like the one about french toast, or computer song with its lyrics “I program my feelings away”. Computer humour snarf! 🙂 I see what you did there!!!

I noticed what might be an Easter Egg but I wasn’t able to ask the Director this. There is one scene where Anna is at her home. This is after she starts to spiral. I noticed a spinning tractricoid toy, like the ones in the film Inception. In Inception, the device is used so that protagonists can determine whether they are in reality or if they are in a dream (within a dream within a dream). If the toy doesn’t fall like gravity dictates, they know they are in a dream state and indeed in Cosmic Candy, you don’t see it fall, so I felt like that was a device to illustrate the dreamlike state that Anna was in. Its inclusion whether intentional or not made me really second guess if any of it was real as the story progressed. Maybe Anna was in a dream the whole time? Maybe the girl wasn’t real? Maybe the girl… dun dun daaaa WAS HERSELF?!

The film cascades with the ending sequence where Persa is due to act in a school play. The play is about Manto Mavrogenous, who was a revolutionary Greek commander and a woman (yeehar!!) so there are definite Feminist messages in the film. For those who don’t know, Manto was part of a secret society called Filiki Eteria which was a movement attempting to overrun the Ottoman empire which massacred the Greeks. I was really psyched to see this featured in the movie for my own personal reasons. My dad is Black (half Trinidadian/half Chinese) but my mum is actually Greek. Her heritage is of the Pontic Greeks who emigrated from the mainland to a mountainous region to the North of what is now Turkey called Pontus. Over many centuries of the Ottoman rule, Greeks were forced to leave Pontus to neighbouring countries for safety and things came to a head in the first world war where Pontic Greeks were taken from Pontus and ritually massacred or forced to take part in something called a ‘Death March’, which is where you are made to walk to concentration camps and those who have died along the way are left. My own great grandmother and grandmother (and her siblings) were actually caught in the middle of this but managed to escape from what would have been certain death, apparently into a forest and from there into mainland Greece (and similarly my great grandfather and grandfather escaped eastward to Georgia). So the strength that they sing of about the fierceness of Greek women in this story is something that I feel very strongly in my own family history, and Anna definitely channels that strength for herself. Brava! Anyways, I digress.

So all in all, I really enjoyed this film. I wasn’t sure at first what made it sci fi but then any world which would legalise hallucinogenics must be an alternate reality (lol). It’s such a compelling story, with this underlying unease like something is very wrong and the visuals blew my MIND. Check it out!

You can watch Cosmic Candy here, but you will need to buy a film or festival pass.

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Mirror Human [2020, SciFi London 2020]

“Please remember me…”


There is a LOT going on in this film and I feel like I didn’t do it justice watching it (my concentration wasn’t 100% in it), so I think I need to re-watch this.

This film follows three different interlocking stories around genetically modified replicas/androids called Transcendants. Their lives are tragically short and it explores their complicated stories. From the offset we find out that the world is quite barren and that these androids have been created with excellent genes for a variety of reasons, but at some point they become unacceptable to human society and the Mirror project (which is what they are called) is suspended.

There’s this evident sense of otherness for the Transcendants compared to humans. At one point someone says that they are “the epitome of the human condition”, that they are “not like us” and they are not capable of loving in the way that humans do. However, we see very quickly that they definitely are, for instance through Xiao-Sun (the Boxer) and Tien’s relationship which is so endearing. The interesting thing about Xiao-Sun as well is that as the android, he is totally being used by the system/the man as a form of entertainment for the masses. You see him being physically beaten for others’ financial gain and it’s obvious from this that Transcendants are considered the lowest of the low. Like they’re disposable.

The film explores what it is to be human. There’s one part of the film where one of the androids says “once you have a name, you can call yourself human” (the androids are assigned numbers) and that sentence really made me think is that the only thing that sets us apart? Perhaps it’s the self awareness of our identities? I was reading recently about why we can’t remember the first years of our lives (don’t ask me why, I just was!) and that our earliest memories don’t start to form until approximately three onwards. I believe it’s the New Zealand Maori who have the earliest record of childhood memories which is something like from 2.5 years old onwards, and that’s simply because their culture places importance on indigenous and family history. There’s this theory in all of this that our memories only form when we have the language to do so, that memories are connected to language and not feelings/emotions and so when I heard them say the sentence about humanity and your name, it reminded me of that theory. Because having a name is more than about identity, it’s about connection to memories and history and kin and collectivity. This is the rabbit hole I went down having watched this film…

Liang (who calls himself the delivery driver) and his best friend Jay who is an android have a great dynamic which I enjoyed. Jay says that he has perfect genes yet he cannot beat Liang in a race, and Liang says that fear of death is what pushes him to drive faster. I feel like this is something that you see in sports people a lot. In order to compete at the highest level, to run your fastest, swim your farthest and so on, you have to feel like you are putting everything of yourself into it. Like you are pushing your body to the absolute limit so that idea definitely resonated. Perhaps androids aren’t capable of doing that, or perhaps it’s that the Transcendants sole desire is to live so why would they push that far (to the point of imminent death)? Also, such a cute little Star Wars reference (BB8) through the little robot friend of Liang’s.

I enjoyed the soundtrack which was lead by very elegant piano bits and it swung between very whimsical and then super determined sounding.

There was one bit of the film which I didn’t quite understand, which was that at parts people were wearing breathing masks. When the Boxer died, they all turned to face the camera with these masks on and it was acknowledged that he was no longer alive. I might have missed that but I wasn’t sure what the ecological reason was behind that. Who were the people with the masks? Was the earth unlivable, or was it a specific area? And there was an unspeaking, smiling girl with pigtails handing out masks. Was she a Transcendant? What I got from that was that she was, and that her purpose was to sit in an area that would be harmful to breathe if you were human, but because she’s like this disposable android her job is to do just that and hand out masks. I might totally have my wires crossed about that though… I really wish that there was a Q&A for this film because I would have liked to question this.

So all in all, this film definitely gave me some things to think about but I’m not sure how I feel about the film. Nice soundtrack. I liked the concept. I found it a little too complicated for a single watching, so I’ll definitely need to watch it again. I liked the dynamics between the characters and I know I will be thinking about this film for a long while. Really polished film, seemed like it had high production values and I really felt the tragic nature of the android’s lives. If you have any thoughts, would love to hear from you readers!

Check out Mirror Human here. To watch it, you’ll need to buy a film or festival pass.

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Live [2020, SciFi London 2020]

“I can’t live like this…”


This film, filmed in Frankfurt, Germany (and some other cool places) is set in a dystopian future. It was directed by Lisa Charlotte Friederich (who is such badass bitch, which I mean to the highest respect possible) and the story follows police woman Claire and her brother Aurel who are both trumpeters. In this new world order, humans are no longer allowed to meet in groups, touch one another, smoke (or anything else that’s fun) as it is prohibited. There are strict curfews in place and the consequences of going against these are dire.

At the offset of the film, we see both Claire and Aurel (who live in the city/country respectively) performing at virtual gigs using VR technology. Before long we are taken to the scene of a crime where around 20 people are dead. It is clear that they had organised some kind of gathering and are referred to as “terrorists” by ‘The Institute’ (a sort of police surveillance entity); although I didn’t quite understand how they came to die, only that this was clearly the aforementioned consequences of breaking the rules. (I might have missed that… Honestly… I was making a snack!) I do really like it when you don’t have all the answers handed to you though, so I personally really liked the omission.

Claire heads to the country and inspired by the actions of the ‘terrorists’, talks her brother and two friends into organising a live gig. Did they make it happen? Did they get away with it? Well, you’ll have to watch the film won’t you?!

The most striking thing about the film is the music. The film features an excellent soundtrack, produced by Rike Huy and Jooseten Ellee. It’s a mix of electronic synth, jazz and classical and is incredibly well done and beautiful. Both the story and the music fit like a glove together. At one point I remember thinking “how can they make a single repeated synth note make me feel so tense right now?!” Because they’re wizards, that’s how. It’s the only explanation.

The city sections of the film were very disparate cinematically from the later country scenes, and I really liked that. The city was dark and sultry, smokey, almost bleakly monochrome; I personally got some film noir vibes from it. Claire lived in a Brutalist cement building that gave the impression she was metaphorically living in a prison cell which seemed to reflect the consensus in the city. In the country where Aurel lived, everything was much more open including the people; the shots seemed wider, the buildings more airy, the greens greener.

I really enjoyed the strange dynamic between the two siblings. There was this strong competitive feeling from both of them (including relating to sexual conquest) which you can see from the beginning scene where both are performing and the camera slices from one performance to the other. It was actually really interesting seeing the Q&A afterwards with the director because she mentioned that she was very influenced by Cain and Abel and I definitely see that mirrored in the story. She also mentioned that she wanted to illustrate how talent is not always fairly distributed and that was explored in a musical way. Perhaps that inequality is part of the reason their relationship is so strained. The relationship between Claire and her mother is also cold and distant, and their interactions make Claire seem very vulnerable.

The subject area of the film itself is obviously really topical right now, with so much of the world in COVID-19 lockdown, though interestingly the director created the film in response to terrorist attacks in Europe.

All in all, I really enjoyed the film. The concept is original and brilliant, and had these 1984/totalitarianism vibes going on. The film made me feel this inner dread throughout like I was waiting for something bad to happen but the ending was quite unexpected. I didn’t think the film was super polished but I know the director made the film on a very strict budget so that’s totally understandable. Really good storyline, amazing soundtrack, an excellent first SciFi London 2020 film of the year. Definitely well worth a watch.

The film is available here if you want to watch it, but you’ll need to buy a film or festival pass.

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Into the Forest [2015]

“We have each other”


‘Into the Forest’ is a Canadian film, somewhere between science fiction and horror-drama. It stars Elliot Page, Evan Rachel Wood and Callum Keith Rennie who are a family who find themselves in the middle of a continent-wide power outage which turns society on its head. There’s only really one sci fi element to the film in that it’s kind of a dystopian future type dealio, but the scenario is something that could very well happen and explores everything that can go wrong.

Society starts to lose its damn mind, like it is wont to do in the midst of a crisis, and the family are forced to retreat to their cabin in the woods hoping to wait the outage out. However, the situation turns from bad to worse to even worse(r?) and it’s almost like this little family are super cursed.

Page and Wood are very believable siblings; their love for each other is quite palpable on screen as they try to comfort one another while their world is falling apart through food scarcity and tragedy.

This is quite a heavy, dark film. There’s one particular moment where something happens and the camera focuses on Wood’s face. She acted it so well, and as a viewer watching her act it was like I was kicked in the chest. That scene is really powerful.

I thought generally it was a little slow, but I get the sense that this is necessary given the topic. The passage of time while you wait for normality to happen would probably feel like things are plodding on. I like that – SPOILERS – you never really know why it all happened in the first place, and you don’t really get a sense of closure with the film. You watch it just waiting for things to go back to normal but the family have to instead adapt to their ‘new normal’. It makes it seem more real somehow. Some similar films might end with “OH BTW IT WAS ALIENS” or “AND OMG IT TURNS OUT EVERYTHING WAS OKAY IN THE END” so this was a refreshing take at a different perspective.

So all in all, this film is really all about family, and how important your family are for your survival whatever shape that takes. The lush woodland was obviously totally stunning. I thought it was really well acted. The concept is a simple one but was explored thoroughly like the Director rinsed the shit out of it. I thought it was a decent film if maybe a bit slow, though I wasn’t ‘blown away’ by it. Worth a watch.

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Alone [2020]

“You don’t realise how quiet space can be until you’re drifting in it…”


Firstly, if you haven’t heard about it and you LOVE science fiction like I do, then please subscribe to this amazing short film channel called DUST on YouTube that I just learned about through Google recommendations… Thank you Google for tracking my every whispered desire! DUST features films which explore humanity through the lens of science and technology with series, short films and podcasts! For more, check out the DUST YouTube channel here or you can watch their films on their instagram here. Obviously DUST has been going for a really long time and I cannot believe this is the first I’m hearing about them.. SHAME. SHAME. SHAME.

So, I stumbled onto this film not knowing anything about it other than like a tardis it came in a small package but was MUCH, MUCH LARGER INSIDE!

Alone, directed by William Hellmuth who may possibly have the most rad surname for a director to date, follows Kaya Torres a spaceship engineer. As the viewer, you’re thrown straight into the reality that Kaya has escaped near death in an escape pod circling what appears to be a black hole as she explains that her crew has perished and she is the sole survivor. I really liked being thrown straight into the deep end with this story. It felt like it took me straight to the crux of the problem. Feature length space films usually involve a big lead up. The lack of this, plus the lack of massive booming soundtracks actually meant I felt oddly calm watching it. There’s no build up of tension and though I know Kaya’s situation is dire and I wasn’t sure how she would get out of this substantial pickle, it was almost serene. That in itself was tense. The line which she utters above is like the icing on the cake and was excellently done.

Kaya manages to connect with a stranger who is stranded on a nearby planet and together they give each other comfort, acting as cheerleaders to one another and exploring each others fears and past lives. Kaya struggles through one failure after another as she circles through her options before the crescendo ending (which I won’t give away).

All in all, excellent short. Beautifully shot and acted. Really great, moody colour scheme and close shots which give an impression of how small/cramped the pod is. The film packs a punch and doesn’t waste any energy on faff. The science is sound and I’m super glad that the director/writers didn’t try to explain the concepts of travelling through certain things that shall not be mentioned with THAT tired paper explanation (you know which one I’m talking about). I hope one day this is picked up by Hollywood and that the story is expanded because it would be an excellent feature film.

You can watch ‘Alone’ here (Enjoy!):

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In Paradox [2019]

“Have you ever experienced memories that aren’t yours?”


There are very few Arabic science fiction/fantasy films out there, so when I noticed this film available to watch on Netflix, I had to watch it straight away. 

The film follows the main character, starred by Faisal Al-Ameeri. There’s a little mystery about who this character is because no one ever says his name, and it’s not mentioned in the credits which I thought was interesting. The film begins with Faisal driving down the street when memories that are not his own come to him and catch him off guard. We learn that he has had these intrusive memories his whole life, and also that Faisal has recently lost his father. 

He goes looking through his father’s things and finds a small notebook in which it says “I’ve lost control over myself, but the ring of consciousness has given me control over everything. It took control of everything.” Faisal then goes looking for answers with the help of Laila, a journalist friend of the family, and is met with resistance at every turn. He is told he needs to go through a labyrinth which I thought to be the ‘old city’ itself, but it turns out this is merely symbolic as the labyrinth is something else. 

I really liked the concept, and thought that Faisal acted in the character very well (as well as Laila and the mystery woman). He showed a good range of emotion throughout from fearful, to determined and was believable, though I thought his sudden turn to knife-wielding (towards the mystery woman) seemed a bit out of character. On the flipside, some of the peripheral characters simultaneously under and over-acted scenes and this came off quite cringe-worthy. There’s one part where the character Mr Saif appears to be tortured by the ring, but his acting makes it look like he’s reeling in to sneeze… It was pretty underwhelming. Some characters were introduced to advance the story only and then ditched, which seemed unnecessary also. 

I found the film generally slow. The soundtrack was not well suited to the action that was happening on scene, for instance in a scene where Faisal and Laila are chased by armed guards through the city, are shot at and fearing for their lives, the paired soundtrack was mediocre instead of exciting. This was unfortunately to the film’s detriment. 

I had a lot of questions throughout. Like why is Faisal so determined to find this ring? Why does he know it will help him at all? Maybe it’s unrelated, what then? All of this becomes clear with the ending, which was a nice twist and turns the whole perceived genre of the film on its head. 

All in all, I liked some of the ideas in film. I really liked the twist and I think the concept and Faisal’s acting kept me watching longer than I would have if it had been a different lead. I did think the soundtrack let the film down, and think that the script/some peripheral characters could have been cut to improve the film, making it more exciting. Faisal lifted the film up, but as we all know, one man cannot carry the weight of a whole film himself. Overall, it’s an okay film but with some large caveats (different supporting actors, better soundtrack, large swaths of the script edited) could have been a great film. 

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Find and go watch!

As part of a promo for Google Pixel 5, Google and British Film Institute are currently hosting a fun treasure hunt on Google Maps. What are the spoils, I hear you ask? Yarr me wenches! Tis but a fine free movie to watch. Worth its weight in GOLD yarr shiver me timbers etc….


I know what you’re thinking… why would I bother when I can get it for a fee on Amazon Prime?

Well, because it’s super fun! There’s nothing more satisfying (well, I can think of a few things actually but…) than a little quest to go with your film. And while all of us are at various stages of lockdown, it’s the closest thing to geocaching that some of us can get…

The categories have been split into Romance, Comedy, Period, Thriller and Drama, and they’ll be available to find for a limited time (until 10th December). Google are releasing clues every few days for the different genres. If you find it, you get a code you can use to watch the film (but there are limited codes so be quick)!

Looks like there are some cool Science Fiction/Fantasy (as well as Science and Horror) gems coming up like Shaun of the Dead, Moon, 28 Days Later, Attack the Block, A Clockwork Orange, The Wicker Man, Dog Soldiers, Children of Men, Under the skin and Steven Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything (and a whole lot more). It’s like Pokemon Go. GOTTA WATCH EM ALL. Or GOTTA WATCH WHICHEVER ONES YOU CAN BE BOTHERED TO SEARCH FOR. Either way.

There’s some more info here.

Get searching!

P.S. This is not an advertisement hahaha. Google do NOT need my help advertising this, but I just really like free movies and treasure hunts/puzzles 🙂 Enjoy!

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Sci-Fi London 2020

SOPHFIFEST’s December 2020 WATCHERS club has been pushed back one week, but for a very good reason!


SCI-FI-LONDON 2020 is happening 8-13 December and due to COVID it’s going to be virtual this year. Cannot wait. Also, tickets are super cheap at £20.20 for the whole festival, or £5 per film if you only want to watch the odd film.

I’m particularly excited about the feature films (synopses below):

  • Live (08/12) – a dystopian story where humans aren’t allowed to be in contact with one another, which given our current COVID/lockdown situation seems very on the nose.
  • Mirror Human (09/12) – this film follows the lives of three characters and explores androids. The synopsis is quite elusive so I guess I will watch and find out!
  • Cosmic Candy (09/12) – a film about a hallucinogenic candy which looks really vibrant and trippy and full of action.
  • Minor Premise (10/12) – this film is about scientific experimentation gone wrong. Ethan finds himself fragmented into different timelines after trying to finish his father’s invention and has to rely on partner/colleague Dr Alli Fisher to find the answers. I’m excited to see how this thriller unfolds.
  • A report on the party and the guests (11/12) – this is a film about a creature on a secret mission but is also about a pandemic and humanity destroying itself.
  • I am human (11/12) – this film is about cyborgs living as part of humanity and explores the human brain and what makes us human.
  • The American Astronaut (11/12) – on my current watchlist. This is one of the top 100 science fiction films of all time, so I’m excited to finally see this.
  • Truth or Consequences (12/12) – the film is set in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico (yes, this is a real place!!) and explores the concept of humans colonising new planets but what if you were left behind. I’m really interested in this idea, the further we advance into space exploration and I’m looking forward to this offering.
  • Skyman (12/12) – this film follows Carl who believes he will be the victim of repeat alien abduction. Is he right? Let’s find out! It’s also co-directed by Daniel Myrick of The Blair Witch Project! Woah!
  • I am Ren (13/13) – this film is a thriller about Artificial Intelligence and follows Renata trying to find answers to a mysterious event.

There are also 30+ short films this year to explore. Check them out here.

I’m really excited to see so much diversity in this year’s offering. This is the direction that science fiction film needs to be moving into. More women, more BIPOC/POC, more LGBTQ, more disabled, more neuro-diverse creators and actors. Representation FTW!

Get your pass soon: https://sci-fi-london.com/ SOPHFIFEST will be chatting about films seen on this site and normal social networks so check those out coming soon 🙂 ONE MORE WEEK! ONE MORE WEEK! ONE MORE WEEK!

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Guardians of the Galaxy [2014]

“You said it yourself, bitch! We’re the Guardians of the Galaxy.”


So, my partner had never seen this film before, so I decided that had to be remedied, forthwith, though I have seen this before in the cinema. On second watching though, it is still as charming and had me laughing just as gleefully as the first time.

The film follows the escapades of the ‘Guardians’: Peter Quill, grifter extraordinaire and the heart of the group with a penchant for 70s and 80s rock ‘n’ pop tunes; Gamora, adopted/kidnapped daughter of the most evil dick in the universe Thanos and one of the most badass bitches in the universe; Rocket Raccoon, the genetically modified brains and engineer of the gang; Drax the Destroyer, the brawn whose childlike, literal manner is really quite touching; and lastly but not leastly Groot, who has the most limited vocab of the bunch but always manages to get his point made and is equal parts wrathful and sweetness. Special mentions to both Nebula (Gamora’s estranged sis) and The Collector (played by Benicio Del Toro) who was just plain creepy and weird; also did anyone notice Nathan Fillion (Firefly) and Rob Zombie in this film(?!) I just read their names in the cast list and I am SHOOK.

I digress.

On paper, this modicum of misfits really shouldn’t work but in reality they fit together like a puzzle, and both as characters and as actors there’s a chemistry on screen that you cannot deny.

This movie is just pure fun, and in terms of the Marvel universe, it was a welcome change from the previous timelines of MCU films which took a darker turn. It feels like the perfect blend of entertainment, action and humour, and I suspect its existence set the bar extremely high for subsequent Marvel films to come.

The soundtrack is an absolute joy and I loved it. I actually bought the soundtrack on tape the first time I saw the film so that I could enjoy it long after. Tape sparks this really reminiscent thing in me about my own childhood and making my own mixtapes. I remember painstakingly recording my favourite songs off of the radio (which is what you had to do if you didn’t have the album yourself in the days before on-demand streaming music). For those who don’t know, you would have to sit and wait for it to play out as it recorded so not something you could make idly like you can with a Tidal or Spotify playlist… It’s so funny to me that that specific aspect of the movie would only speak to older generations, because newer ones wouldn’t understand how precious that is and how much work would have gone into making a gift like that. That Peter’s mum would have made it, ridden with cancer as she was, speaks to a really profound love for Peter and was such a simple yet touching aspect which enveloped the movie with love. The soundtrack is perfectly woven into the movie, so that every song showcased has a significant purpose.

SPOILER & CN – ableism: There’s one moment in the movie which made me feel quite uncomfortable which is where Rocket makes Peter talk an amputee into getting his prosthetic leg from him (for a price) and laughs gleefully about how the amputee must have looked without it. I wondered how disabled people would have interpreted that moment… there’s an obvious shift in the Guardians on-screen about this making them feel uncomfortable and it seems to be a symbol that though Rocket is advanced, he is still an animal at heart… I think if that was the intention, it could have been done a different way that was not ableist and didn’t poke fun at disabled people… USA’s president Mr Trump has got that basic shit covered, so I hear. This is the one bit that dates the movie for me, because its existence is a sign of society acceptance (at the time) of subtle digs at disabled people like it’s just ‘innocuous fun’. I very much believe that would not have made it to screen by today’s standards.

Anyways, despite this I enjoyed the film a lot. It was a really fun (re-)watch, the casting was perfection, the action was so good and CGI really gorgeous (particularly the massive floating skull in space and the interlocking ships). I loved that the characters were complicated and had space to grow and change as the story progressed. It’s still a solid top ten MCU film of all time for me. Thumbs up!

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Kindred by Octavia E. Butler [book]

“Books could be awesome mysteries to her, or they could be dangerous time-wasting nonsense”


CN slavery racism & also spoilers……

I just finished reading Kindred by Octavia E. Butler and I was really moved by it. This book is about time travel but it is so much more than that. It’s about slavery, race, class, love, power dynamics and the transformative nature of education. I have a LOT of feelings to unpack here and they are quite disjointed so please bear with me…

The story follows Dana, a 1970s black woman who finds herself transported to another time. She is drawn to a young, white boy called Rufus who she discovers is – SPOILERS – her ancestor. She realises that she must protect him at all costs for the sake of her bloodline, whilst trying to survive the antebellum/plantation (slavery era) south.

I won’t talk much about the story but am instead going to unpack the themes…

Slavery & education: In slavery times, it was discouraged/illegal for black slaves to be educated. Enslavers believed that educated black slaves were dangerous… Octavia also says in Kindred that “repressive societies always seemed to understand the danger of ‘wrong’ ideas” like liberty and autonomy and this is SPOT ON… I was reminded that education is an absolute privilege and something we cannot be complacent about. Even today, the disparity in levels of education benefits the (overwhelmingly white) elite, rich and powerful whilst minorities are not given the same consideration or opportunities. Racism and classism still exists today. Slavery still exists today around the world, which still impacts the lives of People Of Colour. In Britain, the government until very recently were still paying corporations for ‘loss of earnings’ caused by abolishing slavery in the UK, as if those corporations had any right to those earnings in the first place… I think that says a lot about how recent it all was, and how it is all just barely below the surface…

The book also made me think that it’s extremely important we know how grim history really is so that we can be better now and in the future, and how woefully inadequate history lessons at school are to speak honestly of our past. Unfortunately, history looks to white-wash over reality so that we don’t realise how abusive colonialism/slavery was and the generational trauma that it caused. Instead we are taught little ditties about Kings and Queens…

Style & Technology omissions & Power: Regarding the style of this book, I know that others have criticised it for being too conversational and also not explaining how Dana came to travel through time or why. Firstly on the style of writing, Dana is an author and mentions writing her story down so I truly believe the style is a reflection of that. We’re hearing the account from Dana’s perspective as if she is reading out the account she wrote down. Secondly, I really enjoyed not having the technology side put on a platter for me, and indeed I believe that this speaks to Dana’s lack of power. There are frequent references to power dynamics throughout. I believe that if Dana knew why this was happening, if she knew the science of it, she would be able to stop it but she is powerless so she must accept her fate and the reality that she may never know what happened or why.

Love: And lastly, this book told of great love. The love between mother and child. Love beyond limitations of time and space. Love that protects. Love that bonds. And on the flipside, we see the abusive, possessive, dysfunctional love that the Weylins exhibit both among themselves and towards Neil, Alice and Dana. It was inferred that Dana should be thankful for this so-called love, that she was being treated differently because of it, but love cannot exist in such a power struggle. I really think that Dana believed that the education and love she brought would be enough to change history, but did it? Great change only comes to those who want it, to people who are open to accept love and have a willingness to change which comes from an awareness that they are somewhat broken. The irony that the book was called Kindred was not lost on me. Kindred has many meanings. It, of course, means family but it also means similarity as in ‘kindred spirit’. However, there was little kindred spirit between Dana and Rufus. Instead she found family and love in those around her who had a similar, shared trauma that she had and by rejecting the so-called love Rufus would go on to give her, she really risked her own survival.

Questioning my own ancestry: REWIND. For those who don’t know me and my background, I’m mixed and sci-fi was something I reached for to make sense of feeling this otherness. I know that my ancestors/relations were definitely slaves and I believe there may have been slave overseers in my black bloodline (though to the naked eye, I am white passing). I personally felt very uncomfortable feelings reading this book because of my own bloodline but there’s a lot of growth to be had in uncomfortable feelings so I really am thankful for it.

In conclusion, I loved this book. It is profoundly important. Due to the intentional conversational style of writing, it makes it a super easy to read. I was touched by the love that came off of the pages, despite the traumatic story. It reminded me that I am privileged to be educated and I should never forget it, and it made me question my own ancestry and what I can learn from the past to create a better future. This book should be on the national curriculum.

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Flight of the Navigator [1986]

“I’m sorry, but I don’t belong here now. I love you.”


Thanks to Sam for hosting a great watchparty on Plex and letting me see this long-forgotten gem.

This film follows 12 year old David, played by Joey Cramer. David wakes up after falling in a ravine in the woods and finds out that he has been gone for 8 years and has no memory of what happened! At the same time a mysterious space ship arrives, and NASA are fumbling to find answers.

There’s really not much to say about this. On second watching, this film was a really fun watch.

It has dated quite a bit and there are some scenes which, if the film was made now would be totally inappropriate e.g. Carolyn the adult intern flirting with David, but I didn’t think any of it took away from the film.

The CGI (for its time) and look of the inner ship was so so so good. The ship looked a bit like a clam shell but was pretty believable. The soundtrack was excellent and catchy in an electro-80s sort of way. There wasn’t really much to the story; it wasn’t complicated at all but the simplicity made it fun to watch. It felt like such a fun adventure, and at times was really moving and heartfelt. I loved the relationship between David and his brother who were incredibly sweet. I remember when I watched it as a child, it felt like a naughty adventure to be on, defying the adults and NASA’s orders in the way David did. To be honest, NASA seemed totally incompetent like they had no idea what was going on throughout, even less than David did, which was pretty amusing and David’s instincts felt spot on. The film really has it all… time travel, aliens, space, mind transfer, technology, robotics… what more could you ask for? Oh and lastly the little puppet alien monsters in it look like they came straight out of a Jim Henson playbook so were gnarly but also super cute!

This is a must-watch film and I LOVE IT. It’s dated but utterly charming. I would recommend it a million times over. Don’t expect too much of it, but it’s just really fun and a completely underrated film.

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