“No one should underestimate the ability of women to appreciate, star in, or create science fiction, including women themselves,” says director Karen Freed. “Sci-fi should ideally function on two major levels: social satire and fantastical entertainment. How can anyone deny the potential of women to understand how that’s a brilliant combination?”
During Heard Tell’s #SciFiSeptember, we punch a hole in the “celluloid ceiling” and invite trans and female filmmakers to invade the old boys’ galaxy of science fiction. Below, seven directors, writers, and producers recommend their favorite sci-fi films and promote their own amazing work, too.
I love time travel and superbots and metallic flying things, but I’ve chosen Her because it’s a sci-fi film crafted with such specific deftness that it expands the genre…quietly. There is such clever, genuine provocation here. The idea that a creation might supersede its creator is not new, but in Her it takes on new meaning: the liberation of women beyond historically sanctioned infrastructures of suppression to find our own—uniquely female—humanity.
–Madeleine Gottlieb (@madeleinezara), Director, I Fucked a Mermaid and No One Believes Me
Never Let Me Go (2010)
The best kind of sci-fi, in my opinion, is when it feels just like the world we know with a little twist. Andrew Garfield, Carey Mulligan, and Keira Knightley were developed purely to harvest their body parts. As they leave their boarding school where they are raised, they find out what kind of fate awaits them. Never Let Me Go is a clone drama is really about what makes us human.
Come for the gorgeous cinematography, stay for the exquisite acting. There’s a moment where Andrew Garfield and Carey Mulligan are driving after he’s denied a deferral. He gets out and screams his heart out (which is an echo of an earlier scene in the movie). She watches him lit by the headlights from inside the car. Gets me every time.
–Ani Simon-Kennedy (@anisknyc), Director, Days of Gray
Children of Men (2006)
Though perhaps not an obvious sci-fi choice, I feel it is one of the most unique stories in recent cinema history and has a powerful message for humanity. It is set in a dystopian near-future, where no child has been born for twenty years (it is never revealed why, but I always sensed it was due to the exploitation and pollution of the planet and it was Mother Nature’s way of forcing humans to rethink their barbaric ways).
An oppressive government strictly enforces rules on immigrants and refugees, rounding up people into slums and camps. A young refugee woman is discovered to be pregnant, the first pregnancy in decades and an unlikely group of activists have to band together in order to protect her and her baby—who quickly becomes the symbol of whatever hope is left in the world.
–Jessica M. Thompson (@jessica.m.thompson), Writer/Director/Producer, The Light of The Moon
Terminator 2: Judgment Day 3D (2017)
The cinematography, the character development, the plot, the extreme fun, and the commentary on society are all perfection. This movie holds up wonderfully and may read even better now then when it came out. The role of Sarah Connor is brilliant in its complexity, intelligence, and relatability for a female sci-fi heroine. The audience goes from laughing to crying to contemplating the future of humankind from moment to moment. The new 3D element works well and amps the fun up even higher.
–Karen Freed (@superfreed), Director, Lera Lynn “Shapeshifter” music video
The Butterfly Effect (2004)
I think I’ve spent a good amount of time thinking about different ways my life could have ended up, for a number of reasons. This film was such a thrilling and beautiful interpretation of a tragic love story and I remember watching it and always thinking something different by the time I got to the end, and I love movies and experiences that make me think.
–Whitney Marin (@hiwhitney), Associate Producer, Coffee Shop
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
It’s beautiful. It’s iconic. And it forces you to create your own interpretation because it is so ambiguous, which I think is why it’s so powerful in the sci-fi realm.
—Alyza Enriquez (@mxalyzaenriquez), Social Designer, VICELAND
The script is tight, the cast is bomb, and it plays with time travel in a way that actually kinda makes logical sense! [My favorite part is] Joseph Gordon Levitt’s strange barrelly gun. (Really, THIS is the gun of the future???) P.S. I feel like I should add here that outside of movies, I am in fact very anti-gun.
–Anna Salinas (@badcomixbyanna), Director (Still Highland) and Artist (BadComixByAnna)