One of the highlights with CoKoCon this year is the Apocalypse Later Roadshow film festival put on by Hal Astell. He has taken this film festival all over to many different conventions throughout the US, and this version lasted all of 90 minutes made up of 6 short films, most of which were in some sort of sci-fi form. The movies are listed below with titles taking you to their IMDb links as well as any online sources where they may be viewed. Below each synopsis, I give my brief thoughts about each short film.
The Gunfighter
Directed by Erick Kissack
Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/79306807
Synopsis: In the tradition of classic westerns, a narrator sets up the story of a lone gunslinger who walks into a saloon. However, the people in this saloon can hear the narrator and the narrator may just be a little bit bloodthirsty.

A self-aware Western. The narrator has a wonderful part in this movie as he voices what the people are thinking and what they are about to do. The problem is, everyone in the short can hear him. This was tasteless and hilarious! One of the funniest short films I have seen in a long time!

The Shipment
Directed by Bobby Bala
Synopsis: An ex-slave trader struggles to live a reformed life as a lowly interplanetary cargo hauler. Stranded and broke, he faces his dark past and difficult ethical choices in a desperate attempt to provide a better life for his daughter.

Beautiful imagery, and very slick production. Good attempt at a moral message, but the film’s only downfall is that it didn’t deliver the message strongly enough. Otherwise, this is a very well done sci-fi short film.

Della Mortika: Carousel Of Shame
Directed by Marisa Martin
Synopsis: Abigail, Beatrix, and Zarah Della Morte, find themselves stuck in the Skipping Girl Orphanage in Steampunk Melbourne – a mysterious world full of machines, villains and dark gothic beauty.

This is a beautifully animated steampunk film that has the appearance of being Oliver Twist for girls. They also possess a curiously mechanical quality to them, despite being human which earns the term “sprockets.” Both the story and the characterizations are a bit odd that has some message about family jealousy and forgiveness. The stylish nature of this outweighs the story of the film.

McDonough
Directed by Kyle Stephens
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NEdU4iayHo
Synopsis: A steampunk musical comedy told through the art of foam puppet animation.

Stop motion musical. It’s very Scottish and is somewhat over the top about an inventor who bellows instead of sings his musical numbers. It has an odd and very appropriate, abrupt ending. Very short and silly.

Daisy Belle
Directed by William Wall
Synopsis: A robot has one purpose, and that is to serve its master named Daisy and to make her happy.

Gloriously animated. Unusual imagery. One moment looks futuristic dystopian, next looks somewhat retro, almost steampunk. All about a robot serving a dead master. This same story was done in the Red Dwarf episode “Kryten.” The robot has no idea its master is dead but is determined to continue serving its master. Not sure how it fits in with the world this short takes place in. It’s a sad story about a robot whose only function is to make its master happy. It also has a rather odd ending.

The Ningyo
Directed by Miguel Ortega
Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/244707785
Synopsis: A paleontologist discovers a map that could lead him to a legendary creature that might provide longevity to humanity. The problem is that there are a number of people who are interested in his discovery for reasons that may not be entirely altruistic.

The short film starts off in Japanese and also presents itself with that type of artistic sensibility before switching over to English. For a short film, it is incredibly cinematic. Tale about a man who searches, maybe even hunts, mythological beasts, such as their Opaki, and now he wishes to search for the legendary creature, the Ningyo.
It is beautifully shot and has an outstanding cast. The story is quite complex without any sort of resolution. It almost has the makings of being a feature-length film. It was an unusual short film, but easily the best of the show. Vimeo lists it as episode one, suggesting also a possible web series.


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