One of the highlights of CoKoCon this year is the Apocalypse Later Roadshow film festival put on by Hal Astell. He has taken this film festival all over to many different conventions throughout the US, and this version lasted 90 minutes made up of 7 short films, all of which were in some sort of sci-fi or fantasy form. The movies are listed below with titles taking you to their IMDb links where available, as well as any online sources where they may be viewed. Below each synopsis, I give my brief thoughts about each short film.
Splat! (2020) 1:05 (France)
dir: Romain Revert youtube.com/watch?v=kSkScwaaegU
The film starts with lots of cityscapes followed by a massive explosion. What happened???
This was terribly amusing and yet shows how potentially insignificant Earth and its inhabitants may be in the cosmos. Douglas Adams would have loved this one.
Uprising! (2020) 14:11 (USA)
dir: Ben Hansford | Monumental Partners imdb.com/title/tt15708226/
The movie starts with a machine uprising apocalypse. Then rewinds only a short time to see what led to the uprising. It’s a society that relies on lots of augmented reality with machines as servants. Then most of the machines receive a software update and start wiping out everyone.
Lots of gimmicks and callbacks to past projects, most notably Wall-E. An interesting short film, but a bit rough in its construction, especially with audio mixing. Watching the machines take out humanity was both gruesome and funny. Great concept, but weakly executed.
N (2018) 13:41 (UK)
A gentleman dressed in pilot garb visits a scientist who has created an automaton that only understands Prussian and can accept commands that only begin with the letter “N.” The gentleman attempts to prove to the scientist the pathetic limitations of his creation.
This is made to look like an old silent film. The filming technique is brilliant; from camera angles and color palettes, this movie looked amazing. Excellent filmmaking in the style of Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari. The story was mildly interesting, but the craft of making this short film gave it a feeling of artistic surreality.
Conspiracy Party (2019) 7:55 (USA)
A guy invites some friends over to a party where everyone is a tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorist. Everything about the party deals with a wide range of conspiracy theories, from backward masking messages in music, flat Earthers, and lizard people. Fantastic satire about the conspiracies permeating today’s society.
This short film has a predictable, yet still the enjoyable punchline.
Pinki (2018) 10:40 (South Korea)
South Korean film where a man is first approached by a girl he doesn’t know and is later pursued by some walking mechanical creature. The girl is a walking recorder of both sights and sounds. Is she real, or something else like a previously lost device?
This unusual movie has layers to it. When the punchline is delivered, the short takes a surprising turn. To say any more would spoil this thoughtful short film.
Troll Bridge (2019) 15:54 (Australia)
Cohen the barbarian, who is an elderly man, is traveling the countryside with his talking horse in what appears to be ancient times. Cohen has a mission. He plans to take on a troll living under a bridge. However, once he meets the troll, he realizes that he is now living out of step with a world and has become a relic.
The cinematography is beautiful, and the humor is delightful. This amusing fantasy (that is set in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett) is about the changing times. If Monty Python were Australian, they would have made this short film.
Ellipsis (2021) 15:54 (Australia)
dir: Jorge Corpi | Corpi Arte Digital imdb.com/tt5878772
An alien ship is approaching Earth. An armored structure is guarded by a robot. A device is turned on that generates some energy, and the alien ship locks onto it. The guardian robot is agitated. The alien ship crash lands inside the structure, revealing an enemy-automated pilot. Thus begins the cat and mouse game as the robot sentry tries to defend against the enemy robot that wants something that the guardian is protecting. The enemy wants a container that is holding the DNA for life. Can the guardian robot keep it safe?
The visuals are incredible, sometimes resembling CGI, other times looking like stop-motion. This film is artistically beautiful and rather tragic about the creation of life and what defines life. This is science fiction at its finest.
As always, special thanks go out to Hal Astell for programming a delightful mini film festival for this year’s CoKoCon.