Monsters and Martians Film Festival 2012

L'arrivo di Wang
L’arrivo di Wang

I recently caught up with Monsters & Martians International Science Fiction Film Festival director Nadia Sandhu to discuss the upcoming fest – the first of its kind in Canada – and the state of science fiction as we head into another jam packed holiday season at the box office.

Monsters and Martians runs at the Projection Booth in Toronto from Thursday, December 6th, up to and including Sunday, December 9th. Tickets and more info.

Why Monsters & Martians?

If you are going to launch Canada’s first all science fiction film festival, you need to have a memorable name and this one evolved from a popular Saturday night series we ran at Projection Booth earlier this year. In fact, we hosted an Earth Day Party which featured Gozilla vs the Smog Monster and Turkish Star Wars on May the 4th Be With You under this banner.

Star Wars Episode VII.  How does that make you feel?

I am a Star Wars nut but the recent 3D re-release of the Phantom Menace made me realize that you can love something to distraction but one day love just dies.  I feel like Rhett Butler at the end of Gone With the Wind. I’m just so drained.

If I may be so bold, however, I am disappointed that we are finally getting Episode VII now that Luke and Leia need walkers and Han is the in the retirement home.  I truly dread the obligatory Luke becomes Ben Kenobi in a sacrifice scene.  At this point I’d rather see a reboot of the prequel trilogy.  Yes, a reboot.  With a real story and real conflict, and a badass Anakin Skywalker and writers who actually have a clue how the story ends.   And Ben doesn’t know about there being TWINS dammit.

What do you think about The Hobbit in 48fps?

Dear God.  I cannot with another digital vs 35mm debate.   What I can tell you is that I fully intend to see this film on opening night for the Man of Steel trailer and the first nine minutes of Star Trek: Into the Darkness.  I can’t promise I will stay for the film because try as I might I just can’t seem to make myself care about it.  Odd when you consider I met an ex-boyfriend because of my enthusiasm for a just about to be released Return of the King.

As Festival Director, did you get time to make programming suggestions or was that left to Head Programmer Gareth McGorman?

I really wanted to break the mold and showcase a web series rather than host the obligatory shorts showcase, ergo Heroes of the North on Sunday afternoon.  Having something of a Super Hero fetish, and having worked with Jason Mewes, I was hot to trot on the first SModcast release “Alter Egos” which pairs really well with our web series for a Super Sunday Afternoon at the movies.

Name a hidden sci fi film gem.

Starman starring Jeff Bridges.  Go see it.  I dare you not to get teary at the end.

Full disclosure: I am Nadia Sandhu, Festival Director and Co-Founder of Monsters & Martians and owner of Projection Booth Cinemas.

Monsters and Martians runs at the Projection Booth in Toronto from Thursday, December 6th, up to and including Sunday, December 9th. Tickets and more info.

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ChickFlicking – A Reflection Brought on by Sci Fi (Nadia Sandhu)

The Monsters and Martians Science Fiction Film Festival recently showcased the festival sensation “Dimensions,” a film which has been wracking up Best Film and Best Director Awards from science fiction film aficionados the world over (Best Film at 2012 London Independent Film Festival, Boston International Science Fiction Film Festival, and Long Island Science Fiction Film Festival)

However, despite this pedigree my male blogging colleagues showed no interest in attending the screening or reviewing the film – even though most of these same gents were at Fan Expo this weekend, a convention that science fiction built.  So science fiction was clearly not the issue at hand.

What was it then, that kept these self-confessed film nerds from embracing this festival darling?  Was it the marketing emphasis on steampunk or was it the period costumes?  It couldn’t have been the time travel plot, because I know these guys speak glowingly of films like Back to the Future, The Terminator and even Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. (Watch the trailer and decide for yourself.)

As I mulled things over I kept coming back to the period costumes and the British accents.  I thought back to the screening I attended for Hysteria, which in retrospect was mostly female even though the film was an honest to goodness sex comedy.  That film too featured British accents and period costumes.  Then there was that whole The Social Network vs. The King’s Speech divide. Curiouser and curiouser.

Simplistic as this may sound then, British accents and period costumes are integral to the definition of a chick flick.  Armed with this evidence it has become clear to me that what we have here is a clear case of a Science Fiction Chick Flick that will require special handling for its inevitable release.

So while this summer we’ve been getting our feet wet, feeling our way around the boundaries of the chick flick before we plunge into more complex academic dissections, at this early stage it seems safe to categorize films that are largely the provenance of chicks thusly:

–       A plot concerned primarily with romance/romantic relationships

–       A comedic plot concerned primarily with romance/romantic relationships

–       A plot revolving around family dynamics

–       A plot revolving around a female protagonist

–       An adaptation of classic literature or chick lit

–       A period piece (British accents optional)

–       Musicals

These are the films we take/drag our significant others to.

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