“There’s a vastness of vision in the 2019 line-up,” said SciFi Film Festival Director Simon Foster. “It stems partly from the fact that I’ve sourced films from 17 countries, but also because the breadth of mankind’s imaginative powers is so breathtaking.”
One of the many flicks audiences would not get a chance to see but for the Festival is the very deliberately titled Norman. Our eponymous lead (Stephen Birge), out of time in every way, wants desperately to get back to his future.
Stuck in eras and predominantly one distinctly of our own time, our age-hopping all-around relatable technician has to make the jump home without interfering in everywhere he’s not supposed to be and upending any number of possible futures.
Taking the ‘butterfly effect’ (or Simpson’s toaster) approach to events, the detailed exploration of what would practically be involved in any time traveller ensuring they don’t set anything at all on a different course emerges as Norman’s most intriguing attribute. Notably absent technical discussion of what would necessitate the creation of a flux capacitor or it’s like, the academic nature of the approach to this conundrum, distinctly absent from similar fare, is not infrequently engaging.
Set in Richmond, Virginia, this film’s own city on the edge of forever (one for Star Trek fans), Norman too boasts an uncommonly interesting AI iteration. Essential to the overarching narrative in multiple, considered respects, this computer, even if it’s too utilised for a fair few exposition drops, has a wholly more complex and idiosyncratic personality than the many Cortana-lites that pervade science fiction.
Spending too many minutes on Norman’s internal monologues that sometimes tend to the repetitive, on a limited budget the flick deploys it’s special effects sparingly and well. Notably doing so in this film’s own recreation of beckoning epoch-leaping, those more practically-staged moments that we do spend in varied times, all too fleeting, are among this film’s best.
Enjoying it’s Australian premiere at the 2019 SciFi Film Festival and foregoing any Endgame-style exploration of just how time-travel might tick over, Norman settles on the emotional resonance and consequence one could very well experience should they be isolated in some distant, alien land and in these respects it most excels.
“Our films run the gamut from DIY low-budgeters paying homage to 80s adventures, to spectacular vistas that are majestic works of world-building,” said Simon. “Each one, however, is uniquely human, which makes for the best kind of sci-fi, no matter how deep into outer, or inner, space the narrative takes us.”
Norman screens as part of the SciFi Film Festival on Sunday September 8 at 3:30PM with the Festival screening at Event Cinemas George Street from September 6-8. Norman is preceded by the World Premiere of Chris Elena’s Audio Guide