Film reviews: Future Visions: Dome Under Film Festival, Scienceworks

A festival of short films specially curated at the Planetarium took advantage of the stereo sound and immersive structure.
Dome Under Film Festival, Scienceworks. Image is an abstract swirling image with a brain like central figure surrounded by tiny figures.

This weekend past (3-4 February 2024) saw a bustling program of filmic delights in the Planetarium at Scienceworks, short pieces of works projected onto the 16-metre domed ceiling, showcasing 26 films from 13 countries. This annual Dome Under Film Festival (DUFF), has been specially curated to take full advantage of hemispherical view of Sciencework’s dome, with its surround sound system so visitors are completely immersed in a VR setting.

Sessions ranged from kids’ flicks, to topics roaming around astronomy, music, science and art. The program I saw was titled Future Visions and comprised seven disparate offerings, each one riffing on a sci-fi theme. These short films – most are only a few minutes each – began strongly with 4096AD from the UK, the title denoting the year when humans have managed to travel through infinite worlds. It was a zippy, Blade Runner-style offering, full of neon and drone explorers flying in and around mega cityscapes with a video game aesthetic .

A five-minute German contribution, Urban Mindscape was a bit more cerebral – literally – as it explored an amalgamated wonder vision that combined neuroscience and architecture to present best practice options of future cities.

The tongue-twisting Canadian feature, Interrupted trajectories and other transient disequilibrium models, played with data point grids and mathematic objects, all pulsing and making patterns. It was striking enough just to look at, but apparently the meaning behind it is that it’s a ‘commentary on economic forecasting models and on periods of major changes’.

One of the longer films, coming in at 20 minutes, was the UK production, Moonbase – The Next Step, a fascinating look at possible human settlement on the moon, moon ice excavation (to be turned into rocket fuel) and taking into consideration the manifold factors of what it would take to live and operate in this alien environment.

France’s Destin looked at space exploration beyond the solar system and the UK’s EROS was about a deep space miner. Both were simply snapshots at four minutes each, but the longest film in this session (22 minutes) was the impressive Local Dystopias in the Global Utopia from Germany, which showcased different dystopian worlds, whether they be in an abandoned village, a desert or a digitised environment.

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Fortunately at the halfway mark, the staff at the Planetarium chose to introduce a 10-minute intermission so the audience could rest our eyes; the immersive screen, the zooming in and out of focus and the different pulsating vantage points could induce dizziness and disorientation.

Nonetheless, if this was representative of the films on offer at DUFF, Future Visions was a giddy, visually and aurally exciting look at some spectacular world building of the imagination.

It was a pity the Festival only lasted a weekend.

The Dome Under Film Festival was presented on 3-4 February 2024.

Thuy On is Reviews Editor of ArtsHub and an arts journalist, critic and poet who’s written for a range of publications including The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, Sydney Review of Books, The Australian, The Age/SMH and Australian Book Review. She was the books editor of The Big issue for 8 years. Her first book, a collection of poetry called Turbulence, came out in 2020 and was published by University of Western Australia Press (UWAP). Her next collection, Decadence, was published in July 2022, also by UWAP. Twitter: @thuy_on