This month marks the fifth annual Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival in New York City, and to celebrate the event (running from May 25th–30th), we caught up with festival director Daniel Abella for our latest Q&A feature to discuss what attendees can look forward to experiencing this year.
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us, Daniel. For those unfamiliar with New York City’s Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival, can you discuss how this year’s events will honor the late, great author Philip K. Dick?
Daniel Abella: Thank you, it is a pleasure to speak with you and to be featured on Daily Dead. The theme of this year's festival is "Transcendence or Extinction." The films and panels programmed reflect the crossroads that humanity is in. One side points to a personal evolution and greater spirituality while the other points to a 1984 Orwellian State and Brave New World-type ecological collapse and mass extinction. Science fiction by definition is prescient and indicative of things to come. Philip K. Dick deeply cared how humans retain their dignity before the tidal wave of technological developments.
What types of films were you looking to include in your lineup this year? Is there a particular theme that was of special interest this time around?
Daniel Abella: The films this year cut a wide swath of cultures and countries and our sci-fi is close enough to reality that it could be called future science, one that ricochets back from the future with developments and trends and warnings. We have films focusing on time travel, robotics, and doomsday but many examine the impact of technology on our personal lives and how we are becoming more like machines, and machines more like us, which was the theme of PKD's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which was later adapted into Blade Runner in 1982.
This will be the fifth annual Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival. In what ways has this event grown and evolved over the years?
Daniel Abella: We have films from all over the world, from Argentina to Canada, Finland to South Africa, and China to Japan and Singapore. There are over 100 films and events planned and it is our biggest lineup in our history. The quality and stories of our programming is better than ever and touch the human in all of us.
Over 100 films will screen at this year’s festival. What types of sci-fi can attendees expect to experience on the big screen and throughout the entire festival this year?
Daniel Abella: There is a full range of emotion, from awe-inspiring to humor and transcendence to heart warming. The films are broken into groups of international sci-fi, animation, virtual reality, robotics, paranoia, the triumph of humanity and over a dozen which are direct Philip K. Dick inspirations and adaptations.
In addition to film screenings, the Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival also features informative and entertaining discussions. What type of panels can attendees look forward to this year?
Daniel Abella: The documentary How To Build a Time Machine and its follow-up panel includes Dr. Ronald Mallet, who will be discussing his time travel research. The documentary A Life Gone Wild will be followed by a panel with director Maryanne Bilham-Knight, who will be joined by Thomas McNear, Blynne Olivieri, Dr. Harold Puthoff, and Jacques Vallee as they discuss and reminisce about the late Ingo Swann, who is regarded by many as the father of Remote Viewing, the army's psychic spy program. We also screen Gods Among Us: The Science of Contact and will have director Caroline Cory and Rudy Schild and Joe Cerletti talking about alien presence and abductions.
What types of virtual reality demonstrations can attendees look forward to seeing?
Daniel Abella: The festival will provide immersive 3D and 360-degree VR simulations. Viewers will delve into Philip K. Dick's mind, learn the innermost secrets of time and space, drop into the middle of a zombie apocalypse, and secretly participate in a bohemian grove ritual.
The Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival has always looked to the future while also examining the present. Why do you think this celebration continues to be so relevant in today’s world?
Daniel Abella: More than ever we need to read and watch Philip K.Dick. Some might even argue that since last year we have entered into an alternative universe given the recent state of economic and political events.
What would you tell someone who’s on the fence about attending this year’s festival?
Daniel Abella: The Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival is New York's first sci-fi festival. If you care about supporting indie science fiction and not just the corporate tent poles, then this is the festival for you to fully enjoy yourself. If you have ever felt alienated from this artificial culture, you will find meaning, connection, and reality in people who care deeply about our future. The festival is the antidote to these crazy times we live in.
Where can readers go online to learn more about the Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival?
Daniel Abella: Visit www.