What to see at the BFI's Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder Season

The mothership has landed. October sees the start of the BFI's huge, multi-strand, four-month long season of sci-fi film and TV celebration. The gargantuan programme is split handily into several themed strands: Contact, Tomorrow's World, Afrofuturism, Sci-Fi on TV and Altered States. But even within each strand the choice is vast, so you really need to head on over to the BFI's dedicated section of their website here to see what you can feast on. But if the thought of all those choices makes your eyeballs bug out, here are some highlights from the October-December period chosen by the editor:

2001: A Space Odyssey (new 4K Digital transfer)

No sci-fi programme could justify leaving out Stanley Kubrick's stately, strange, thrilling masterwork. In addition to screening a new transfer of the print, the BFI will be hosting a special panel discussion with cast members Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood, as well as a discussion led by Christopher Frayling on the production design of the film. The film plays throughout November in an extended run.

Star Wars Day

The BFI has declared December 13 to be Star Wars Day, with the original trilogy of Star Wars films (Special Editions only, sorry purists) screening back to back. "Special Guests" are promised, which, given Episode VII is currently filming in the UK, could mean an appearance from some of the original cast members. Costumes are encouraged, which will help guests blend in when the BFI bar gets turned into a mock-up of the Mos Eisley Cantina from Episode IV.

Blade Runner: Final Cut

Director Ridley Scott is a name that turns up a lot in the Sci-Fi season listings, given he helmed both this seminal genre classic and Alien before that (which also screens in the season). December 14 sees a special preview of the Final Cut version of Blade Runner, before it goes on wide release once more. Essential.

Preview: Ex Machina + Q&A with Director Alex Garland and Scientific Advisor Adam Rutherford

The directorial debut from Alex Garland (Dredd, 28 Days Later); a sci fi thriller concerning artificial intelligence in the form of a beautiful woman.

Blake’s 7 + Panel Discussion

The cult classic TV show, back on the big screen on December 5, with cast members on hand to discuss

Afrika Bambaataa in Conversation, Hosted by Don Letts

Playing as part of Afrofuturism strand, the Godfather of hip hop arrives at the BFI to discuss discuss Afrofuturism, cinema, music and more with DJ, musician and filmmaker Don Letts.

William Gibson Keynote Talk

The author famous for his visionary fiction, including Neuromancer (credited for inspiring The Matrix, amongst others) comes to the BFI on November 26 to explore the genre he helped shape.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Don Siegel's allegorical, paranoia-inflected sci fi thriller, the first of the many screen adaptations of this story, gets an extended run from 31 October.


Owen Van Spall

Greetings. I am a Film History MA graduate from Birkbeck University of London and a trained NCTJ qualified journalist. Apart from a long history of film and news writing for this site and various other publications, I am also a trained photographer with my own camera kit. I write mostly every day. Along the way I have picked up work experience at Sight & Sound, The Guardian, The Independent, The FT, The New Statesman, and more. I have written hard news stories, features, arranged and conducted interviews with celebrities, film directors and other major cultural figures, arranged photo shoots, and covered film festivals, conferences and events in the UK and abroad. If you wish to commission me or enquire about full-time opportunities please find my CV and contact details below. A physical portfolio of print only cuttings can also be provided.