Movie marathon grows to two screens

BOSTON — The 29th edition of the Boston Science Fiction Film Festival will find it in a new venue and, for the first time, with a juried prize for best of fest.

After 13 years at the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, Mass., the annual 24-hour marathon of sci-fi movies will set up base at the two-screen Dedham Community Theater in Dedham. It’s the first time the event is being held on more than one screen since 1986, its final year at the Orson Welles Cinema in Cambridge, which was destroyed later that year by a fire.

Executive director Garen Daly said it has becoming increasingly difficult to book the festival in its original form, which was a collection of classic and schlock sci-fi films. With many such films no longer available in 35mm prints, Daly has been forced to turn to archives and private collectors; he also has increased the number of premieres and recent films.

“Of all the things I do in a year, this is the thing I enjoy the most,” said Daly, a regional film booker. “In the long, cold New England winter, this is full of warmth and hope.”

Teutonic TV take

This year’s event will include the U.S. preem of “Space Patrol — Back From the Future,” a re-editing of a 1960s German show that was the European answer to such American fare as “Lost in Space” and “Star Trek.” Producer Steven Reichenberger and composer Peter Thomas are scheduled to introduce the film to its first American auds. Also set are bows for “Godzilla vs. Megagirus,” part of the third generation of Godzilla films barely released in the U.S., and the upcoming “Robot Stories.” Greg Pak, director of the latter pic, is tentatively set to appear.

On the archival side, there will be Edgar G. Ulmer’s “The Amazing Transparent Man”; a new print struck for the fest of 1957 potboiler “The Giant Claw”; and the 1937 Krazy Kat cartoon “Krazy’s Race of Time,” set in the then-far future of 1995. Also skedded is the New England premiere of a real curio, “Incubus,” a 1965 film shot entirely in Esperanto. It stars a pre-“Star Trek” William Shatner, was written and directed by Leslie Stevens (creator of “The Outer Limits”), and was shot by Conrad L. Hall.

Also on tap is Ridley Scott’s director’s cut of “Alien”; last year’s zombie hit “28 Days Later”; and the Three Stooges in a rare sci-fi outing, “Have Rocket, Will Travel.”

Fest honors

This year, for the first time, the fest will present two awards. One will be a juried award of films deemed “in competition,” with the other to be selected by the audience. Due to the nonstop nature of the 24-hour event, ballots will be collected after the event ends so as to compensate for sleep deprivation and not to give short shrift to pics playing late in the fest.

The festival is one of the oldest devoted to sci-fi films. Originally targeted to Boston’s large college population, it has metamorphosed into a multigenerational affair, with teens and twentysomethings joined by veterans of past marathons from around the country.

Daly, who has run the event since 1987, has focused on adapting to continuing changes in the marketplace, with premieres and oddities replacing some of the no-longer-available older pics. It also has served as a place to revive interest in films that failed in their initial release, including “Blade Runner,” “The Iron Giant,” “Gattaca” and “Happy Accidents.”

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