This week, there’s a host of spacey weirdness happening across screens through the city’s cinemas. Maybe it’s the changing of the seasons, maybe the stars are aligned at weird, or perhaps it’s the fact that, as residents of the Northern Hemisphere, we’re statistically overdue for another great comet. While we wait for news of flying fire balls to streak across the sky, we’ll just have to settle for those freaky weirdos turned laser terrorists who’ve been trolling commercial airline pilots for, like, no good reason. Or we can set our sights on these strange galactic, sci-fi, alternate Utopian or Dystopian reality films.
Space is the Place: Afro-Futurism on Film
We love Sun Ra, the late experimental jazz musician and space-case mystic whose legacy burns brightly, and hearing his recordings is one thing, but seeing the man in the flesh is quite another– that’s why we’re super psyched about this series and honestly we’re considering just squatting at BAM for the next week so as not to miss a thing. Space is the Place (1974) is essential material for Sun Ra beginners. The film is a tripped out, visual version of Sun Ra’s concept album of the same name. Something for die-hard fans and newbies alike, though, is happening tonight (Thursday, April 9 at 9:15 pm) — the screening of a rarely seen 1980 documentary, Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise. The doc includes interviews with Sun Ra’s peers and bandmates, concert footage, and talks with the man himself explaining his “Afrocentrist” philosophy.
The series also includes films inspired by Sun Ra’s aesthetic and philosophy include Blade (the sci-fi vampire film starring Wesley Snipes), Born in Flames (’80s sci-fi film about New York after a socialist revolution succeeds in establishing equality for women and people of color) and The Last Angel of History (see above, an example of contemporary Afro-Futurism). From now until Wednesday April 15th at BAM: tickets per screening, $14
This is Cosmos
Russian artist and founder of the art and critical theory journal e-flux, Anton Vidokle created this film (shot in three very disparate locations within the former Soviet Union: Crimea, Siberia, and Kazakhstan) that draws on early 20th-century Russian philosophy of cosmism, a form of transhumanism which incorporates ideas from Russian Orthodoxy, Eastern Religion, Marxism, and the Western Enlightenment.
The event organizers explain things a little better: “For the Russian cosmists, cosmos did not mean outer space: rather, they wanted to create ‘cosmos’ on earth. ‘To construct a new reality free of hunger, disease, violence, death, need, inequality– like communism.’ Vidokle’s film re-engages the Utopian project, seeking out the traces of such philosophy after the end of the Soviet Union and the present day.” Heady, we know. But that’s why two experts on art, philosophy, and all things Russia, Boris Groys and the filmmaker, will be on hand at the screening to elucidate all these complexities. Friday, April 10, 7 pm at Artists Space, 55 Walker Street: $5 suggested donation
As suggested in this run-down of The Nest, the film might be a nod to Don DeLillo’s fantastically eerie novel White Noise, in which a mysterious, poisonous cloud from a chemical spill creeps into a Midwestern college town, disrupting the lives of residents like the novel’s main dude, a professor of Hitler Studies who already has a host of problems including an inability to speak German. The Nest takes the surreal elements of White Noise a step further. Spectacle is screening this visually fantastic film (saturated, shot on expired film stock) on 16 mm as part of Fantasma: the James Fotopoulos retrospective. Sounds creepy, sign us up. Sunday, April 12, 10 pm at Spectacle Theater: $5 at the door
War of the Satellites
Classic sci-fi meets a low-budget space film from the ’50s. Humans are tryna get off this dang planet when an alien race sends a spy down to the blue planet to infiltrate the space program. You might think, a film like this is a dime-a-dozen, but Anthology promises this Roger Corman film lacks the goofiness inherent in many early sci-fi films. Wait, so this is like an extended version of an alien-themed Twilight Zone then? We’re so there. Actor Dick Miller, who stars in the film, will be present at the screening so bring head shots you nerds. Saturday, April 11, 9pm at Anthology Film Archives: $10