Since its debut in 2009, the OC Film Fiesta has ended the summer season with a stunning array of films mixed with live multicultural performances, all in the county's cultural hub, Santa Ana. Starting Friday and running through Sept. 15, the festival hosts 13 feature films, several short-film showcases and panel discussions for the community—all with a sci-fi twist. While we wish we could present a rundown of all the films, here are some highlights:
Let the sci-fi geekery commence with a fully restored, 145-minute version of the classic 1927 German Expressionist science-fiction film Metropolis. Accompanied by a live score performed by local musicians and sound artists including Glenn Bach, Stephen Anderson and Sander Roscoe Wolff, the screening serves as a fund-raiser for Long Beach Cinematheque head Logan Crow's efforts to bring the art-house experience to Santa Ana in January 2014 with his Frida Cinema. And for avid film nerds, 2007's Argentinean homage La Antena echoes back to the Weimar era's style of surrealist horror. The film chronicles a dark age in which everyone in the world has lost the ability to speak, having to submit to endless product-placement ads and broadcasts of Big Brother-like figure Mr. TV. Shot in epic black and white with striking imagery and unique production design, this film stands out among the festival's lineup.
On Sept. 14, the festival honors author Philip K. Dick, whose work inspired some of the most iconic sci-fi films ever. Total Recall, Blade Runner, A Scanner Darkly, The Adjustment Bureau and Screamers are just some of the films adapted from Dick's stories into mega classics in their own right. This tribute will feature clips from the films and a discussion on Dick's life in Orange County, specifically SanTana, where the innovative writer spent his last years.
The OC Film Fiesta at Fiesta Twin Theatre, 305-100 E. Fourth St., Santa Ana; www.ocfilmfiesta.org. Sept. 6-15. Visit the website for a full schedule and additional information.
Just south of the border, one of Mexico's most beloved masked wrestlers, El Santo, fights other worldly beings threatening Earth in the 1967 classic El Santo vs. The Martian Invasion. Shot in black and white, this nonetheless colorful tale follows Martians who come in the form of spandexed alpha-males and their cheesecake counterparts, who try to thwart Santo with their winged eyeliner and seductive curves. Unless you have a gigantic home-theater system in your house, the chance of seeing this in a regular theater is slim.
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Speaking of cult classics, get your thrills and highflying adventure on with Peter Weller in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. This kitschy space jam focuses on our half-American, half-Japanese hero—who holds a hefty résumé as physicist, neurosurgeon, martial-arts master, secret agent and rock star—as he saves the world from those nasty Red Lectoids from Planet 10. The film features a cavalcade of stars from Jeff Goldblum, Ellen Barkin and John Lithgow to Orange County's own Pepe Serna, playing Banzai's band mate Reno Nevada. Following the screening, Serna will be on hand for a Q&A session to dish on the production and talk over whatever else you're confused about.
Beyond all the sci-fi love, there are odes to local creativity with the Kilson Street video showcase and the Santa Ana Youth and Community series. The Ambulante Más Allá film series, a partnership between Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, and indigenous communities in South Mexico and Central America, makes its Orange County debut with several short films shot and directed by Latin American youths. Panels and workshops for filmmakers-in-training include "Writing for TV," with Simpsons writer/co-producer Marc Wilmore, and "Indie Filmmaking In the 21st Century," with Dave Boyle, writer/director of The Man From Reno.
Don't miss the festival's closing event, a screening of Conchita Villa's film Alondra Smiles: A Quinceañera Story, which details a working-class Latina's efforts to deal with adolescence and all its perils before her 15th birthday. This special screening includes a Q&A with Villa, as well as a quinceañera fashion show featuring a line of Disney-style dresses in all their royal glory.