The future is now at ICON TLV

The festival spans a gamut of events from science fiction and fantasy to films, comics, video games, lectures and contests.

woman looking scared (photo credit: Courtesy)
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 fair.
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 fiction.
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 US.
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 and The Blair Witch Project but also incorporates a good deal of black humor into its story.
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 desert.
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