Dust off your cape this October for twelve supercharged days of movies, contests and talks at the biggest fantasy and science fiction event of the year. ICON TLV, the international science fiction and fantasy festival is returning for the fifteenth year running to the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and other locations around Israel, from October 15 – 27, 2011. This year’s festival targets geeks, scholars and people new to science fiction and fantasy as its program offers a variety of film viewings and film-related competitions, as well as gaming events, academic events and a book, comic, art and collectible fair.
For many the top attraction of the event, ICON will hold an international film festival, with viewings of over 100 films. The variety is huge, spanning international and Israeli films, with large to modest budgets in the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres. Among the films showing will be Buried (USA 2010), a small budget film ($3 Million) in which Ryan Reynolds plays a U.S truck driver working in Iraq, buried alive with 90 minutes’ worth of oxygen and a cell phone; TrollHunter (Norway, 2010), where students investigate a series of supposed bear-killings only to discover a much darker truth; and The Good, the Bad, the Weird (South Korea, 2008), a history-Western genre blend set in World War II Manchuria, featuring train hi-jacking and horse chases.
Other films include B-movie/grindhouse flick Hobo With a Shotgun (Canada 2011), where a homeless man attempts to restore order and aright the city’s many wrongs- with a shotgun; Rubber (France 2010), a horror parody in which a tire acquires sentient and psychokinetic abilities, and sets to destroy a desert town; and two Nazi trash flicks, Dead Snow (Norway 2009), where medical students on a ski vacation are attacked by Nazi Zombies, and The Devil’s Rock (UK 2011), in which Nazi forces harness demonic forces to gain the upper hand in WWII.
Israeli genre films will be making a larger than usual appearance this year. The festival features Chatulim Al Sirat Pedalim (“Cats on a Pedal Boat”) as the first attempt of its kind in Israeli cinema, a silly mock horror flick set around the Yarkon river. ICON will also be hosting the world premiere of Mur’alim (“Poisoned”; also, “fired up”), a zombie comedy about IDF soldiers. Also on the program are several Israeli film competitions, including “Action in Three Days“, in which filmmakers will shoot and post-produce a movie in 72 hours. The resulting films will be presented at the festival.
Even if you are not a film enthusiast, you will find plenty to do at this year’s festival. Artists and language aficionados compete to stir things up on the SciFi/ Fantasy front at ICON. The festival will be hosting several competitions, such as the translation of magic-related terms into Hebrew (magician, sorcerer, enchanter, wizard, warlock), with a prize of 2000 NIS. Another competition, “Close Encounters of the Wacky Kind” invites animators, illustrators and painters to submit their visions of an unlikely encounter between characters from different works of science fiction or fantasy.
Also on the program of ICON 2011 are lectures, panels and conferences. This year, the lecture sessions will be held in the afternoons, enabling participation of a wider audience. Scientists, humanists, historians and philosophers will discuss artificial intelligence, and explore the bonds between man and machine. Talks and discussions will attempt to provide an in-depth survey of the scientifically and ethically and complex issue- “Healing Death”.
As part of its scholastic program, the festival has partnered with two establishments that will hold scientific and futurist conferences on their premises. Hemda, the Center for Science Education in Tel Aviv, will host the First Israel “Unconference” of Singularity. “Singularity” is the hypothetical future merging of biological and non-biological systems which, it is proposed, will result in greater-than-human intelligence. The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute is also teaming up with ICON, and will host an international academic conference on the topic “The Future of Humanity- Now”. On its academic committee are Dr. Elana Gomel of Tel Aviv University and Dr. Ruben Borg of the Hebrew University.
Other attractions on offer at the festival include an extensive gaming program, featuring an exhibition of computer games and the annual conference of the Israeli gaming industry. Across the square from the Cinematheque a book, comic, art, clothing and collectibles fair will be set up with a bookstore and reading area by Tzomet Sfarim and a comic area by the comic chain “Comics Veyerakot” which will host workshops, activities and signings and of course sell comics.
ICON TLV film program (Hebrew), Tel Aviv Cinematheque, 2 Sprinzak Street, Tel Aviv
Singularity Unconference (free): October 17, 9:30-17:00, Hemda Science Education Center, Hapardes 7, Tel Aviv.
“The Future of Humanity- Now” conference, October 24, Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, 43 Jabotinsky St., Jerusalem