The Philip K. Dick European Science Fiction Film Festival launched in October 2013 and has screened events in Lille, France, Cologne, Germany and Łódź, Poland. Organized by individuals and filmmakers who understand both the challenges and rewards of telling a unique story in an independent environment, the festival represents the deep analyses and philosophical views of internationally renowned novelist Philip K. Dick, whose work has inspired generations of writers and filmmakers all around the world. In spotlighting such genius, this is a festival created for filmmakers by filmmakers.
A lineup of powerful films will screen at The Fourth Annual Philip K. Dick European Science Fiction Film Festival. The gathering, which celebrates the incredible talent of independent filmmakers and honors Philip K. Dick’s worldwide legacy, returns to its familiar venues at Filmclub 813 e.V. in Cologne, Germany from October 27-28, 2017 and at L’Hybride in Lille, France from November 2-3, 2017.
Filmclub 813 e.V. (Hahnstraße 6 50667, Cologne, Germany):
Venue Website: www.filmclub-813.de
Regular Price: €6
Student Discount: €5
Filmclub Membership: €4
L’Hybride (18 Rue Gosselet 59000, Lille, France):
Venue Website: www.lhybride.org
Regular Price: €4
L’Hybride Membership: Free Admission
Daniel Abella, director of both the US and European PKD Film Festivals, chats with us about the growth of both festivals, and the expansion of the European event
Slice of SciFi: How would you compare how the European festival has grown compared to the one in New York?
Daniel Abella: Since New York is our home town, we have more resources to put into the festival. Our home festival has certainly grown faster than our two European festivals, but the one in France, I expect to do very well. Last year, we just had it for one day but it was completely sold out, so they gave us two days to work with this year. I anticipate it will be very successful.
Slice of SciFi: So, is this the second time you’ve had two separate locations encompassing the Euro fest?
Daniel Abella: Almost every year, actually. The second festival we had in both France and in Poland, then subsequently we’ve had it in France and Germany.
Slice of SciFi: What have the submissions been like this year? Independent filmmakers have been expanding their reach in both science fiction and horror, so what have you seen in terms of growth for submissions for both European festivals?
Daniel Abella: What I find interesting is that we’re getting a lot more features, and many of these features have name actors. For instance, at Cologne, we’re going to have a feature called Ayla, directed by Elias and it stars Dee Wallace (from E. T. and Cujo) and Tristan Risk, from American Mary and Editor. So we’re seeing some good features presented, maybe because of the timing, or wanting to break into the European market.
Slice of SciFi: Can you talk about how you’ve separated the programming tracks? They seem to be separated in terms of thematic elements, like “Lurking Shadow” and “Fight the Future”.
Daniel Abella: PKD had 4 or 5 major themes that ran through his work, so what we like to do is break up the programming according to the scenes, whether it be parallel reality, dystopia, paranoia, android vs humans. So that’s the rationale, and it gives people a sense of what they’re getting into, from a content point of view. It’s worked out fairly well.
For instance, some of the themes may be more graphic in nature, so they’ll know already from the track title what to expect. We find this is very useful, and we use it for both the French and German festival.
Slice of SciFi: Can you talk about how many submissions did you receive, and what it took to narrow things down to the ones that are appearing?
Daniel Abella: I guess we got about close to about 1000 submissions for the European festivals, and I can tell you we saw all of them! We give the director the benefit of the doubt, so we’ll watch the first 20-30 minutes and if it’s really good we’ll watch the entire thing, but if not we may send it for another round of screening, and in that round the programmers will decide if it’s worth screening or not.
Some of those entries, we also pulled from the New York festival, and we inform the directors ahead of time and ask if they’d be interested in having their film in the European festivals. We have a policy that if your film is passed on at one of the festivals, it will automatically be reconsidered for the other festivals.
Slice of SciFi: That’s nice! That gives filmmakers a chance to be seen at another festival without having to prepare a new submission package.
Daniel Abella: Exactly, because sometimes we see some really amazing features, and there’s just not enough room to show them, and it’s frustrating to pass on them. So we created this as an opportunity to revisit these films, and sometimes a film will be seen at both festivals.
Slice of SciFi: With the increase in the number of quality submissions you’re seeing, is there any chance that these festivals will expand beyond two days?
Daniel Abella: Yes, there’s definitely that possibility. We would like to have at least 3 days per city, and that would give us a chance to invite writers and maybe speakers to also present their work at the festival. At the New York festival it varies… this past May we had six days! But absolutely, regarding Europe, we’d like it to incorporate an entire weekend.
Slice of SciFi: Are you seeing any trends with submissions, in the types of themes and subjects people are exploring? As you said, PKD had his touchstone themes, so have you seen any increase in films that touch on those themes as the world becomes a little bit more uncertain?
Daniel Abella: Yes, yes. We’ve seen a trend with heavy emphasis altered states or altered realities, psychedelic realities. We’ve seen a significant increase with that, mostly in the documentaries, but also in the live action-scifi end. For instance, this year we received a documentary short based on the work of Dennis McKenna, the brother of Terrence McKenna the cyber-shaman who’s heavily involved with promoting the use of psychotropic substances to break through the ego. That very interesting documentary goes into how Dennis is working with a Peruvian shaman in finding new applications of these medicinal substances to help with depression, psychosis and schizophrenia… very interesting.
We’re seeing the psychedelic states, or what I call the Altered States of America, is something that I’m seeing more and more of, and I’m very happy we’re seeing a change from the traditional scifi themes like time travel, going back in time to catch the girlfriend you didn’t have, or with androids, and some times they’re very good, but there are so many of them that they’ve become cliche. Definitely filmmakers are exploring more cutting edge thinking, and I’m happy to see that.
Slice of SciFi: Well, I know you’re busy with two festivals…
Daniel Abella: There’s actually a possibility that there’ll be another festival in Poland in December. We’re working on that, and as soon as we know, we’ll let you know!
So those dates again are October 27-28 2017 in Cologne, Germany, and November 2-3 in Lille, France. Tickets can be purchased at the website, http://philipkdickfilmfestival-europe.com/, and you can see the lineup of films being presented.