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Film and Tech, the Fantastic and Taboo, Radical Ideas and Future Visions are at the heart of Utopia

Utopia is a unique event, presenting a wide range of thought, creativity, activism and enterprise, at the intersections of science, imagination and future visions. Utopia is first and foremost an international festival of fantastic genre films, presenting a panorama of innovative, bizarre and out-of-this-world cinema, with a focus on sci-fi, fantasy and horror.

Alongside this, a mosaic of activities take place – conferences, talks, workshops, performances and exhibits that deal with ground-breaking and thought-provoking science, technology and radical ideas that emanate from and are inspired by science fiction.

Artists and film-makers, designers and tech entrepreneurs, thinkers and policy experts, all convene at Utopia to present and exchange their ideas on the future of cinema and the story-telling art and craft, and utilize science fiction as a discussion platform on science and society, technology and ethics, as a research lab for radical ideas and as a catalyst for social change.

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Participants over the years included Collin Trevorrow (film-maker, “Jurassic World”), Alex de la Iglesia ("Balada Triste"), Neil Gaiman (author and screenwriter, “American Gods”, “Stardust”, the “Sandman” graphic novel series and many best-selling novels), Marc Caro (filmmaker, “Delicatessen”, “The city of Lost Children”), Orson Scott Card (author, “Ender’s Game”), Christian Lorenz Scheurer (concept artist and production designer, “The Matrix”, “The Fifth Element”, “Justice League”, “Thor: Ragnarok” and many other films and video games) and many other creatives.

Utopia has also welcomed top professionals, among them Mike Hostench, director of the Sitges International Film Festival, the longest-running and largest fantastic film festival in the world, Lindsay Peters, director of the Frontieres international genre film co-production market, Louis Savy, director of the SCI-FI-LONDON festival, Prof. Sheryl Vint, editor of the Science Fiction Film journal and Patrick Gyger, director of the Museum of Science Fiction and Utopias in Switzerland.

The Festival nurtures and supports local fantastic genre film-making. In our first decade we presented 35 Israeli feature films, 20 of them in our last 3 years. Among the films presented and film-makers participating were “The Congress” by Ari Folman, “The Wonders” by Avi Nesher, “Big Bad Wolves” by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, “Abulele” by Yoni Geva, “JeruZalem” by the Paz Brothers, “Endtime” by Roni Kedar, “Freakout” by Boaz Armoni, “Cannon Fodder” by Eitan Gafni and many others.

Israeli participants include public figures and top creatives, executives and professionals from many fields, among them authors Etgar Keret, Shimon Adaf, Irit Linur, Asaf Zippor, Uri Fink, Dorit Rabinyan, Sarah Blau, Meir Uziel, Alex Epstein, Retired Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner, Rabi Yuval Cherlow, entrepreneurs and investors Yosi Vardi and Yanki Margalit, robotics experts Prof. Danny Halperin, Dr. Guy Hoffman, Dr. Liran Antebi, designers Dr. Amit Zoran, Adital Ela, Mushon Zer-Aviv and many others.

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The main Utopia audience numbers in the thousands, 5,000 in our last event; the audience is young (50% are 25-35, 30% 15-24) and includes students and young adults of above then average education, web and tech savvy, with a high representation of young creatives and tech entrepreneurs, high-tech employees and other young professionals in various creative fields: film, design, animation, video games, digital and more.

We are actively working on positioning and branding Utopia as a home for the future, innovation and digital communities of Israel – tech entrepreneurs, film-makers, designers, artists, bloggers, gamers, hackers, makers and all manner of geeks.

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“Science fiction is the most important artistic genre of our times” said recently historian Yuval Noah Harari to Wired magazine. Harari joins a long line of leaders and luminaries, entrepreneurs and visionaries who have long lauded science fiction, from Werner Von Beraun to Elon Musk, David Bowie, Paul Krugman, Stephen Colbert, Stephen Hawking, Winston Churchill and Barack Obama.

Creators of science fiction imagine the unimaginable and explore the impossible. Science fiction is the spearhead of creativity. In literature, film, design and art, science fiction has given inspiration to marvelous journeys through space and cyberspace, and has thought-up the robot, submarine, big brother, computer virus, artificial intelligence and technological singularity.

The “what if” question, the heart of speculative creativity, develops curiosity, critical thinking and creativity, but most importantly – remind us that the world is not all that it is, but all that we can imagine it to be. In a world completely reliant on science, overflowing with technology and crying out for vision, the role of speculation is ever more important. At our doorstep are critical human dilemmas – stemming from the world of scientific exploration and technological innovation, as well as the social realities all around us – and they require brave new perspectives. The role of speculative creativity has never been more important.

At Utopia we praise creativity and innovation, strive to strengthen the values of scientific literacy and critical thought, generate a discussion about science, technology, society and the future, and above all – celebrate free and untethered imagination.

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