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Hundreds of thousands of Israelis will head outdoors next week to celebrate Sukkot, the traditional harvest festival celebrated in temporary structures outside. Science fiction and fantasy fans will have an excuse to stay indoors, however, to take part in a newer tradition the Icon Festival, a celebration of science fiction and the imagination held yearly during the Hol Hamoed period of Sukkot. This yearâ€™s festival will be held at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, from October 18 to 21.
Now in its ninth year, the Icon Festival is expanding to fill areas adjacent to the Cinematheque, with lectures, games and film screenings scheduled to take place almost 24 hours a day for the duration of the event. Festival-goers will be able to test their wits as they try to make it through the full-size labyrinth being constructed for Icon, while others can attend a wide variety of magic shows, storytelling sessions and animation workshops. Instruction will be given in comic book production and anime, the distinctive Japanese style of animation.
Festivalgoers can check out the inflatable planetarium on display and take part in games laser tag as they wander between workshops, and fantasy performers will stroll the grounds in full costume and makeup. The Icon schedule also includes childrenâ€™s activities and introductory lectures and programming for newcomers to fantasy role-playing and the world of science fiction.
Science fiction will literally take center stage when Icon organizers award their annual Geffen Prizes for the top science fiction novels translated into Hebrew during the past year. A Geffen Prize will also be awarded for the best short science fiction story. Popular science fiction writer Tim Powers will speak to fans about his novels, which include The Gates of Anubis and Last Call, a winner of the World Fantasy Award in 1993. Powers is a two-time winner of the Philip K. Dick Award and published his first collection of short stories, Strange Itineraries, earlier this year.
Other festival guests include Hollywood producer Gil Adler, whose resume includes big budget special effects extravaganzas such as Constantine and next yearâ€™s Superman Returns. Producer Roger Nygard will attend a screening of his documentary Six Days in Roswell, while film and TV fans will have an opportunity to hear from Roger Barnett, a Spiderman 2 scenic artist whoâ€™s also worked on The Ice Storm, Far From Heaven and episodes of Sex in the City.
Iconâ€™s opening night will include a screening of Joss Whedonâ€™s new feature film Serenity. The science fiction drama is the first by the writer/director since the end of his critically acclaimed series Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, both of which attracted a fanatical cult following during their run. Serenity took second at the American box office when it opened at the end of September, and will be accompanied at Icon by episodes of Firefly, the short-lived television series on which it is based.
Festival sponsors include the Israeli Association for Science Fiction and Fantasy, Tsomet Sfarim bookstores and Starbase 972, an Israeli fantasy and role-playing organization.