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MoMA screens 70 science-fiction films from 22 countries
Corpus Callosum. 2002. Canada. Written and directed by Michael Snow.

NEW YORK, NY.- Future Imperfect: The Uncanny in Science Fiction, presented at The Museum of Modern Art from July 17 through August 31, will screen 70 science-fiction films from all over the world—22 countries including the United States, the Soviet Union, China, India, Cameroon, Mexico, and beyond—that explore the question, What does it mean to be human? In a departure from other exhibitions of science-fiction cinema, Future Imperfect moves beyond space travel, visions of the distant future, alien invasions, and monsters. Instead, all 70 films take place on Earth in the present (or near present) and consider our humanity in all its miraculous, uncanny, and perhaps unknowable aspects.

Since the dawn of cinema, filmmakers as diverse as Kathryn Bigelow, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Kinji Fukasaku, Jean-Luc Godard, Barry Jenkins, Georges Méliès, Michael Snow, Alexander Sokurov, and Steven Spielberg have explored ideas of memory and consciousness; thought, sensation, and desire; self and other; nature and nurture; time and space; and love and death. Their films, lying at the nexus of art, philosophy, and science, occupy a twilight zone bounded only by the imagination, where “humanness” remains an enchanting enigma. Future Imperfect is organized by Joshua Siegel, Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art.

The exhibition spans the entire history of cinema, from Walter R. Booth’s The OverIncubated Baby (1901) to Michael Almereyda’s Marjorie Prime (2017). The breadth of the series is also reflected in "The Fantastic Adventures of Georges Méliès, Buster Keaton and Apichatpong Weerasethakul," a special program of silent films from the past 100 years, accompanied on piano by Donald Sosin, that includes Georges Méliès’s The Conquest of the Pole (1912), Buster Keaton’s The Electric House (1922), and Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Vapour (2015).

Future Imperfect opened on July 17 with MoMA’s new 35mm preservations of two pre-Code Fox rarities, Six Hours to Live and It’s Great to Be Alive, followed by a classic of 1980s American indie cinema, The Brother from Another Planet, introduced by writer-director John Sayles and other members of the cast and crew.

Future Imperfect encompasses all genres, including animation (Richard Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly, Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, Nozim To’laho’jayev’s There Will Come Soft Rains, Suzan Pitt’s Visitation); faux documentary (Christopher Miles’s Alternative 3, Jan Sverák’s Oil Gobblers); documentary hybrid (Werner Herzog’s Fata Morgana and Lessons of Darkness, Frances Bodomo’s Afronauts, Ben Rivers’s Slow Action); experimental (Michael Snow’s *Corpus Callosum, Chris Marker’s La Jetée, Mike Kuchar’s The Craven Sluck), comedy (Buster Keaton’s The Electric House, Alexander Mackendrick’s The Man in the White Suit, Richard Lester’s The Bed Sitting Room, Harold Ramis’s Groundhog Day), horror (David Cronenberg’s Shivers and Videodrome, George A. Romero’s The Crazies, Krsto Papic’s The Rat Savior, Jean-Pierre Bekolo’s Les saignantes, Georges Franju’s Eyes without a Face), and the thriller (William Dieterle’s Six Hours to Live, Alain Resnais’s Je t’aime, je t’aime, Joseph Sargent’s Colossus: The Forbin Project, Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days, Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, Hongmei Zhang’s Death Ray on Coral Island, Nacho Viagalondo’s Timecrimes, Alex Proyas’s Dark City, and Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men).

These films represent diverse forms of science fiction, a strange and heady mix of the knowable and the speculative. Are we the sum of our genes, culture, and technology? How do we regard, interpret, and alter our past, present, and future? How have filmmakers from the 20th century and into the new millennium grappled with some of the most fascinating, terrifying, and hopeful questions of our time— questions of cybernetics, cyborgs, body hacking and artificial intelligence; human evolution and fate; the transhuman and the posthuman; global warming and environmental catastrophe; the prehistoric, the Anthropocene, and the postapocalyptic; synaesthesia and other altered states of perception and consciousness; mutations and modifications of the human genome; culturally determined notions of racial and gender identity and the reinvention of the self?

Special guest presenters include the filmmakers Michael Almereyda (Marjorie Prime), Larry Fessenden (The Last Winter), Lynn Hershman Leeson (Seduction of a Cyborg and Teknolust), and John Sayles (The Brother from Another Planet), and the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (The Quiet Earth).

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