woman looking scared.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
One of the most anticipated events of the year, the 15th ICON TLV international
science fiction and fantasy festival at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque (and other
venues around the city) opens October 15 and runs till October 27. Science
fiction fans, comic aficionados and film lovers always welcome its mix of
movies, video game events, lectures and workshops, art exhibits and comic book
This year’s film festival features both local work and
international movies, with screenings of more than 100 films. Among local
filmmakers, there is a great deal of interest in the Israeli selections. The
film Cats on a Pedal Boat (Hatulim B’sirat Pedalim) sounds especially
intriguing. It stars Michael Moshonov (Mabul, Lebanon) and Dana Frider as a
couple whose dream date in a pedal boat on the Yarkon goes comically and
horribly awry. Cats turn into monsters, psychos stalk them, and then it really
gets complicated. This film has stirred curiosity since it started filming last
year. ICON will also feature Poisoned, another genre-bending comedy, this one
about zombies taking over an IDF base.
There are also several
competitions for Israeli films, including Action in Three Days
, a contest in
which filmmakers have to shoot and complete a movie in just 72 hours. The
finished films will be screened at the festival.
The international films
include a wide variety of subjects, from thrillers to horror to science
Ryan Reynolds stars in Buried
, in which he plays a truck driver
working in Iraq, buried alive with 90 minutes’ worth of oxygen and a cell phone.
Directed by Spanish filmmaker Rodrigo Cortes, the movie has won awards all over
the world, including Best Screenplay from the National Board of Review in the
The Norwegian film TrollHunter
is about a group of students who go
into a forest to investigate a series of bear killings, only to meet a hunter
who is tracking down trolls. The film, which has been a huge hit at festivals
around the world, is filmed in the faux-documentary style of Cloverfield
Blair Witch Project
but also incorporates a good deal of black humor into its
Another film from Norway, Dead Snow
, is about medical students on
a ski vacation who are attacked by Nazi zombies. And if that’s not enough Nazi
threat, there’s the British film The Devil’s Rock
, about Nazis who make a pact
with the devil to win World War II.
If there were an award for Best
Title, it would go to The Good, the Bad, the Weird
. This Korean movie tells the
story of two outlaws and a bounty hunter in 1940s Manchuria and their rivalry as
they search for a treasure map, while the Japanese army and Chinese bandits
pursue them. Although it might sound heavy, the action is over the top and
features a lot of horseback chases.
In the Canadian neo-grindhouse movie
Hobo with a Shotgun,
a homeless man tries to bring justice to his city with a
gun. An unusual film from France, Rubber,
is a tongue-in-cheek horror movie in
which a tire comes to life and tries to destroy a town in the
Gamers will certainly find a lot to enjoy at ICON. There is an
extensive gaming program, featuring an exhibition of computer games and the
annual conference of the Israeli gaming industry.
Comics enthusiasts will
enjoy workshops, lectures and signings hosted by the comic chain Comics
Veyarakot. Outside the Cinematheque, there will be a fair selling comics, books,
art and Tshirts.
There will also be several contests. One is for
the translation of magicrelated terms into Hebrew (such as “sorcerer” and
“enchanter”) with a prize of NIS 2,000. Another competition, Close Encounters of
the Wacky Kind, is open to animators, illustrators and painters who want to
enter illustrations of their visions of a meeting between characters from
different works of science fiction or fantasy.
Various academic lectures
and workshops, including one by Hemda, the Center for Science Education in Tel
Aviv, will ensure that the proceedings don’t get too low brow. Hemda will host
the First Israel Unconference of Singularity, described as the possible future
merging of biological and nonbiological systems, which some believe will result
in greater-thanhuman intelligence.
The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute is
also teaming up with ICON and will host an international academic conference on
the topic “The Future of Humanity – Now.”To get more information or to
buy tickets to any of these events, go to the festival website at