Phoenix Loves Sci-Fi – A Joint Review

PLSFThursday evening July 2nd, we had the immense pleasure of attending the Phoenix Loves Sci-Fi film festival held at the Cronkite School of Journalism, ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus, where Cassandra Nicholson the Outreach Coordinator facilitated the event. Thanks to our friend Jeff George for posting a link on his Facebook page or we would have missed this great opportunity to screen some very interesting film shorts.
The program is presented in partnership with the Phoenix Film Festival, Filmstock Film Festival, the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival and IFP Phoenix, with proceeds benefiting Phoenix Film Foundation’s youth education programs.

The shorts screened ran the gamut of live action, hand drawn animated, and stop motion, as well as CGI animation.

A number of the entries were produced here in Phoenix by local independent filmmakers, many of which were present.

A pre program set of three shorts was presented at 6:15 while the crowd gathered with the first block of shorts beginning at 7:00. There was a short break and then we were off to the second block. Some of the crowd left after the first block but we stayed for the entire presentation, which lasted until 10:30ish. A rough count of the audience was 75 plus.

There were so many shorts on the program that it is almost impossible to review every single one. There were, however, a few notable standouts (for sake of time and space, we will only choose a few in each block, sorry):

Keith really enjoyed the first short shown as part of the pre program, Jinxy Jenkins, Luck Lou. It was a cute comedic short to whet the appetite, if you will.

In the first block, in the animation category I have to go with The OceanMaker, for the story and how it drew me in so that I cared about the character.

For the live action entry I choose Temporal Party as my standout, for the impact of the story, although it was tough choice, as Nostalgic and Ouroboros were great films.

And just for grins, Hoyt’s Awakening was a fun little comedic romp.

Keith’s picks in the second block, in the animated category, The Looking Planet, it was fun and a humorous look at our planet. I will say in this short, they did a lot of universe building (insert rim shot here).

The Astronomer’s Sun was moving little piece of what appeared to be stop motion photography.
My live action pick is Focus because I am a wannabe photographer and it actually brought tears to my eyes for its’ message.

The fun piece for the second block goes to Flight Fright, I like to homage to the Twilight Zone with an added twist.

It was a very enjoyable evening and I hope that this could be an ongoing event, or at least an annual event. It was nice to see local filmmakers and their work.

Now for Ben’s thoughts on the evening:

I’ve never had the pleasure of being able to attend a film festival comprised of science fiction short films, so having a chance to go to the Phoenix Loves Sci-Fi Film Festival was a pure delight, and the variety of the shorts were so plentiful that there was easily something for everyone to enjoy.

I can’t write on each of the shorts, as there were a total of 21 that we viewed, but there are a few that were standouts for me on a personal level.

Jinxy Jinx, Lucky Lou – This was a totally delightful computer animated short about two different individuals, their personal outlook on life, and how fate just brought them together. It was charming, very humorous, and done with such quality it looked like it could have easily been done by the folks at Pixar.

The Temporal Party – An amusing, and thoughtful, look at time travel by sending out invitations to time travelers for a party scheduled for a date which has already passed. This was not concept as I have heard of people actually trying to host such parties, but to see it done here was a delight, and at the same time one thing about cause and effect.

Ouroboros – One of the “headiest” shorts I have ever seen. What I loved about this was the attention paid towards actual theoretical science, all starting with quantum entanglement, followed by a nod to such advanced notions as temporal physics and possibly even string theory. If I only had one complaint is that there was so much science being thrown out that there was too much for me to absorb in one viewing. This is one short I would most definitely want to watch again.

Hoyt’s Awakening – A simple short, but made with the purpose of only having fun dealing with an “older than middle-aged” woman and her fears surrounding two enemy combatants whose fight (and at times bad clichés) bring them into her house. This short does not appear to have been made as a serious piece of work, rather it was done purely for the sake of having a good laugh.

Flight Fright – I loved the couple of instances of “misdirection” which happen here. What clearly started off as an homage to “Terror at 5,000 Feet” from The Twilight Zone series, the twists start off pretty quickly and received a lot of laughs from the audience. The short then ends with a new twist that felt like it could have come from John Landis’ Twilight Zone: The Movie.

The Looking Planet – One of the most charming shorts I have ever watched with plenty of nods to Magrathea from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, but drawn from a very interesting premise regarding the science regarding Earth’s own moon. It was heartwarming, beautifully animated, and left me with a smile on my face by the time it finished.

Focus – Here was another short that drew from an older idea, but its execution was entirely fresh. Granted, the love of photography is what made this one stand out, but the story here could have easily been shown on an episode of Amazing Stories regarding a very specific telescopic camera lens and the importance of family.

The Rogue Animal – All I have to say is this: Wolverine meets Grindhouse. Pure fun!

And lastly…

The Astronomer’s Sun – One of the most poignant, if not tragic, shorts of the evening. This beautifully digitally animated film looks as if it could have been done with stop motion, and simply tells the story of man with his mechanical bear on a search for his father who was lost to him as a young boy. It was artistically beautiful with a somewhat sad ending.

These shorts, in addition to the others not mentioned here, are amazing. The art of filmmaking is clearly alive and well based on what I saw here, and I look forward to seeing more from these talented filmmakers in the years to come.

List of Shorts screened with links to IMDb (or other) listings

Pre-Show Shorts

Jinxy Jenkins, Lucky Lou

The Prize Inside


Block 1

The OceanMaker


Chloe (French animation, no information found)

The Temporal Party



Hoyt’s Awakening – Boise Esquera – Portfolio



Block 2

Flight Fright

The Looking Planet


The Rogue Animal


The Astronomers Sun

Vault of Souls: The Pact (Directed by Kevin R. Phipps – Produced in Phoenix, AZ – no additional information found)



Here is the link to the event trailer on Vimeo


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