Miami International Science Fiction Film Festival Returns Bigger Than Ever for Its Third Year

Miami International Science Fiction Film Festival Returns Bigger Than Ever for Its Third Year
Courtesy of Troy Brenier

The Miami International Science Fiction Film Festival (MiSciFi) is summoning the fantastic to the Magic City this weekend. The festival is only in its third year, but it has doubled in size, adding workshops and lectures to the already packed lineup of short and feature film screenings. More than 60 independent films from international filmmakers — covering a wide range of sci-fi subgenres, from supernatural to action-adventure — will premiere.

“We are showing a lot of lo-fi sci-fi, very simple, not big-budgeted like Star Wars," says Troy Bernier, geologist/hydrologist and director of the festival. "Only the independent world gets the amazing stories; the popular film world doesn’t get the amazing story, or if they do, they tend to repeat the same story over and over again.”

Bernier, who has worked for the U.S. government and as an earth science professor at Miami Dade College, sees the two worlds of science and film to be naturally intertwined.

“These are films if you were to experience them in the first person, you would be in awe or wonder. And I can tell you, being a geologist, I worked in the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea. We were in a boat looking at 40-foot waves during hurricanes. A boat like that could flip or sink; it was a fantastic moment because we all survived,” Bernier says. “Sci-fi allows us to look at ourselves from a different perspective. It puts us in a scenario where our humanity is challenged, and we have to relive it.”

The amateur filmmaker was inspired to curate a local community for science fiction in Miami after his experience producing and directing independent sci-fi movies. His documentary Journey to Planet X, which screened at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, follows Bernier and co-filmmaker/scientist Eric Swain as they attempt to make the low-budget film Planet X.

“It’s amazing, because what we witnessed, lived through with these films, people got to know who we are. I could tell you that I can comfortably say that documentary about Eric and myself is what launched the next generation of sci-fi films,” Bernier says. “We are amateur filmmakers, but we put so much heart into it.”

This year, visual effects artists who worked on Lord of the Rings, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Jurassic World will host the panel discussion "A Look at the Uncanny Valley." Also, in celebration of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, MiSciFi will feature lecture panels on the political and cultural context of the show, as well as a Skype conversation with original Stark Trek series screenwriter D.C. Fontana. 

Bernier insists, “You don’t want to miss this."

Miami International Science Fiction Film Festival
Friday, January 15, through Sunday, January 17, at the Hyatt Regency Downtown (400 SE Second Ave., Miami). Visit miscifi2016.eventbrite.com.


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