Visions of the future
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Science fiction speaks about the world—or worlds—but from whose perspective? Most of us imagine Sci-Fi (or “SF”) from a U.S. or perhaps Japanese lens. But around the world filmmakers are creating cutting-edge, futuristic works that grapple with fundamental social and political problems, from climate change to racism, sexism, and the global economy. How is science fiction film imagined in Mexico, Kenya, Serbia, or even North Korea?
These issues will animate a three-day conference, “Visions of the Future: Global Science Fiction Cinema,” that will take place at the University of Iowa April 12-14. The event features two keynote lectures, six academic panels, four film screenings, and a World Canvass radio and TV broadcast on global science fiction in its many guises. A highlight will be a screening of the feature film Sleep Dealer (2008) and conversation with the award-winning filmmaker Alex Rivera. All events are free and open to the public.
The conference will kick off at the Iowa City Public Library at 10 a.m., Thursday, April 12 with panels on “Biopolitics and Bioethics” and “Cyborgs, Affect, and Sexuality.” Other panel topics include “New Media and the Technologies of Science Fiction” and “Urban Dystopia and Narratives of Disaster.” Katherine Hayles, former UI professor and currently professor of literature at Duke University, and Thomas LaMarre, professor of East Asian studies and communication studies at McGill University, will deliver keynote lectures.
Films will be screened from Germany, Japan, and Argentina, among other countries. The final event will be a 35-mm screening of the dystopian Sleep Dealer at 9 p.m., Saturday, April 14, at the Bijou Cinema. This event is co-hosted by the Iowa City Documentary Film Festival.
Jennifer Feeley, assistant professor of Asian and Slavic languages, and Sarah Ann Wells, assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese, are the co-organizers of this conference and also are teaching a new companion course, “Global Science Fiction Cinema,” this semester.
In addition to attending the conference events, members of the UI community are invited to peruse the exhibit on “Global Science Fiction Cinema” in the lobby of the Main Library. The exhibit was curated by Chiaki Saki, Japanese Studies librarian at UI, with assistance from Feeley and Wells and the students from their course.
For more information, visit dsph.uiowa.edu/conferences/uigsfc/wp/.