Miami International Science Fiction Film Festival: A B-Movie Fest From the Minds That Brought You Planet X

May the geeks happily invade Miami, because for the first time ever, there's a science fiction film festival happening in our midst come January 2014.

A few years back, two work buddies who shared a common interest in science fiction set out to create a movie. That little movie was titled Planet X: The Frozen Moon, also referred to as Planeta Desconocido, which went on to have tremendous international success. Part of that success was due to the fact that while Troy Bernier and Eric Swain were filming Planet X, another film crew was present filming them film their movie.

The end result was a documentary titled Journey to Planet X, and it turned Bernier and Swain into overnight sensations in the sci-fi realm.

The documentary and main film were part of over 23 film festivals in just two years. Partially inspired by their journeys traveling to various festivals, Bernier and Swain wanted to bring one of their own to Miami. The pair experienced firsthand how festivals were run, both from the perspective of an attendee and a contestant, and using their newfound knowledge organized the first Miami International Science Fiction Film Festival (MiSciFi for short).

"We've always wanted to be a part of a science fiction festival when we started making these films some years back, but there really wasn't much of anything like that in South Florida," says Bernier.

As they were exposed to various types of international film festivals, explains Bernier, "we saw how people were being treated, and we saw how these things were organized and done, and we saw what worked and what didn't work because we were part of it."

Though Bernier says that they don't plan on screening either Journey to Planet X or Planet X during the MiSciFi, he doesn't entirely rule out the possibility; "I can imagine that some folks will make such a request because Journey to Planet X has not played very thoroughly in the South Florida area; it was only played at a couple of festivals."

"It's not about us showing our work, it's about the celebration of fantastic films," says Bernier. Swain chimes in to explain that they already have plenty of film submissions to fill the time, and they want the focus of the festival to be on fresh talent and not their own.

The MiSciFi has received submissions from all over the world, including various parts of Europe, India, Australia, and of course some locally made gems. There's even a separate category for Florida made films, because as Bernier explains, "we want to recognize the fact that if you're a Florida made film and you make any of these types of films, you should submit because we're very interested, and we think the Florida community is very interested in seeing these films too."

Of the bevy of films in the festival, a few highlights include:So Dark, Dust of War, Jake's Road (a Florida made film), and Kill Shelter. Opening the festival will be Europa, and We Will Live Again has been selected as the closer.

The films entered into the festival undergo strict scrutiny to determine the ultimate winner. Being men of science, Bernier, Swain, and their third partner, Eduardo Figueroa, came up with a mathematical rubric to score and grade the films. The judges will look for the level of cinematography, editing, quality of sound, narrative flow, subject, level of creativity, special effects, and the overall quality of production. "These are very important attributes when it comes to filmmaking," says Bernier, "and we wanted to make it very, very fair for both low budget and moderately budgeted films submitted."

Aside from the classic schedule of full-length films, Bernier and Swain have incorporated a unique factor into the festival line-up: micro docs. "The scientific micro doc is any short documentary that is 30 minutes or less, and people can talk about some sort of innovation or research project they're involved in - anything, anything in the world that has to do with science or innovation, its an idea we're interested in," explains Bernier.

The micro doc session will be on the Saturday during the festival and will be free and open to the public, though registration is required. Swain adds how the micro docs will act as tool that brings the world of fantasy and reality together: "It will be a cross over between the actual science and science fiction."

The first Miami International Science Fiction Film Festival will run January 17-19 at the Hyatt Regency Miami. Advance tickets can be purchased via MiSciFi, and on Saturday, January 18, tickets will be discounted. For more information and updates, visit MiSciFi.com.

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