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Sci-On Film Festival: Robin’s movie review

A poster for the Sci-On Film Festival reads “Education, Astronomy, Earth and Space Science. Fleischmann Planetarium, University of Nevada, Reno. Sci-On! The biggest little science and fiction film festival in the world.”
Courtesy of Nevada Space Center
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A poster for the Sci-On Film Festival.

For this week’s Movie Minutes, Robin Holabird takes a look at the Sci-On Film Festival, which is coming to the Fleischmann Planetarium from May 4-6, 2022.

“May the fourth be with you” sounds like a great movie line but listen carefully: May the fourth as in the date when Reno’s science film festival provides the chance to see two Oscar-related projects on the big screen. Called “Sci-On,” the festival promotes science-related films, whether documentary, drama or fantasy.

Highlights include:

Luca, an Oscar-nominated animated feature from last year, which inserts important, adult issues into a fantasy plot; in this case, one with sea creatures who take on human form while on land.

Like many Disney-Pixar collaborations, the animated feature addresses important and adult issues, in this case, with a story of friendship and overcoming prejudice. Also, typical for Disney-Pixar works, the project looks absolutely gorgeous, a trait enhanced by size. That makes it worthwhile to take advantage of any chance to see it on a big screen.

My Octopus Teacher, the Oscar-winning documentary from 2020, finds friendship in an unusual setting. Perhaps like me, you already watched My Octopus Teacher on Netflix, but once again, fabulous camerawork justifies a bigger screen than any home TV.

The Oscar-winning documentary for 2020, My Octopus Teacher recounts the interaction between narrator Craig Foster and the sea creature he discovered while swimming off the coast of his South African home. His discovery reveals an unexpected world. Foster learned how to free dive and stay underwater for six minutes, and his filming partner managed to run the camera for a similar amount of time. This results in breathtaking cinematography.

Script-wise, the film overcomes my issue with nature documentaries: My personal inability to avoid getting too attached to main characters. Foster’s narration and explanations about the life cycle of octopuses make his project much more bearable to an animal wimp like me. Foster’s approach avoids sentimentality and enhances both understanding and appreciation.

Along with the two outstanding features, Sci-On screens many works by up-and-coming filmmakers in categories that include documentary and live-action shorts. For specifics, look at the schedule on the festival webpage at Sci-On.org.

This review aired on KUNR FM on Friday, April 29.

Robin Holabird is KUNR’s entertainment reviewer, author, and former film commissioner for the Nevada Film Office. You can browse a full archive 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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