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Sci-On Film Festival: Robin’s Movie Review

A film poster for Moon Drops. A man is operating a machine with a light beam projected toward the moon.
Yoram Ever-Hadani

For this week's Movie Minutes, KUNR entertainment reviewer Robin Holabird looks at some of the projects at this weekend’s Sci-On Film Festival.

This weekend’s local movie-watching event stays on solid ground even though many of its films go way up in the air. Outer space features strongly in finalists for Reno’s annual Sci-On Film Festival, with contestants from all over the world exploring science-based themes. True to its home base in Reno, the event claims status as “the biggest little science plus fiction film festival in the world.”

One part of the program features 10 live-action shorts, a category that never ceases to amaze me through technological advances. Digital equipment and computer effects provide up-and-coming filmmakers with tools that would have made George Lucas drool in the days when he envisioned the first Star Wars movies. Sci-On entries create space flight and other worlds with sharply honed images that would dwarf projects made a decade or two ago.

But beyond technology, Sci-On competitors explore thought-provoking issues. With numerous projects created during the COVID-19 crisis, many filmmakers focus on end-of-days scenarios, as in a clever project called “viewers:1.” The project reflects pandemic constraints, using a single character — and filmmaker — meaning “viewers:1” was made with no one worried about social distancing and face masks.

Creative thinking stands out, a trait also found in an entry called “Moon Drops.” Filmed in Eastern Europe, “Moon Drops” features a soft spot of mine — impressively shot, unusual, real-life locations. Even better, it communicates clearly and sensitively without a word of dialogue.

“Moon Drops” works great, but I get sidetracked by the good humor and fun effects in a project called “Transmission,” and then come other well-made entries, bringing about the festival’s biggest challenge for all us viewers: Which project gets our vote? Viewers vote in all categories, which feature documentaries, animated projects plus music videos and virtual reality experiences.

Speaking of virtual, that describes last year’s format when COVID-19 struck. Viewers can participate virtually again this year, though both UNR’s Fleischman Planetarium and the National Automobile Museum serve as in-person venues. More information and screening times can be viewed on the event's website at sci-on.org.

Robin Holabird is KUNR's entertainment reviewer, author and former film commissioner for the Nevada Film Office. You can find all of her reviews here.

Robin Holabird reviews movies for KUNR, and her reviews have aired for more than 30 years. During that time, she has had a high profile in the Nevada film community.
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