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MoMA’s Upcoming Sci-fi Exhibition Is the City’s Best Summer Attraction

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Science fiction fans are going to be spending a lot of time at New York’s Museum of Modern Art this summer, as they launch a new exhibition dedicated solely to films of the genre.

Future Imperfect: The Uncanny in Science Fiction, will be at the MoMA July 17 through August 31, with 70 science- fiction films from 22 countries “including the United States, the Soviet Union, China, India, Cameroon, Mexico and beyond.” It is organized by curator Joshua Siegel.

All these films, the press release writes, will “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), questioning our humanity in all its miraculous, uncanny, and perhaps unknowable aspects.”

The diversity in these 70 films is astonishing, and include genres like animation, faux documentary, documentary hybrid, experimental, comedy, horror, and thrillers. They tackle, as the genre does, all kinds of anxieties whether it’s the limits of artificial intelligence and body hacking, global warming, mutations, racial relations, gender identities, and more from all kinds of perspectives.

The most exciting part about this is the possibilities of this broad collection. What kind of conversation would ensue when we watch the Japanese film The Face of Another (1966) next to the French-Italian film Eyes Without a Face (1960), both of which grapple with disfigurement? What about how Barry Jenkin’s short film Remigration and the 1920 German film Algol: Tragedy of Power confront economic upheaval almost a century apart?

Starting from the very beginning of cinema with Walter R. Booth’s The Over-Incubated Baby (1901) to this year’s Marjorie Prime from Michael Almereyda, the exhibition spans “the entire history of cinema.” Whether you’re curious about early silent films like Buster Keaton’s The Electric House (1922), which will include piano accompaniment from Donald Sosin or want to rewatch Ex Machina or Donnie Darko, there’s something for you.

The exhibition also includes an impressive amount of guest presenters like Neil deGrasse Tyson, John Sayles, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Larry Fessenden, and Michael Almereyda. If you’re in New York City, definitely make some time to see a sci-fi film this summer. Check out the schedule here. If you’re not, take a look at the curated collection anyway and add some to your watch list!

(image: Universal Pictures)

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