From Maja Borg to Spike Jonze, discover the future of humanity with these forward-looking films
If you're after a utopia, where's the best place to look? In her experimental documentary Future My Love Swedish director Maja Borg is surprised her search leads her to the US – to futurist Jacque Fresco's The Venus Project, which advocates a resource-based system that's done away with money. Blending super 8 sci-fi sequences with her own and the 97-year-old designer's reflections, Borg's created a film that's a farewell letter to her past lover (Italian actress Nadya Cazan, who introduced her to Fresco's vision) and a call to humanity to let go of our failed economic system. To mark the film's release this week, here's our pick of films about the future you need to see.
Spike Jonze is on top form with his mind-bending latest, set in a near-future LA. Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore Twombly - a conflicted professional letter-writer who enters into a relationship with his advanced operating system, which has a female voice (Scarlett Johansson) and the capacity to evolve but no body.
What Now? Remind Me (2013)
Portuguese director Joaquim Pinto's nakedly honest and profoundly human documentary recognises that accepting the future means addressing the past. Lauded at festivals this year, it chronicles a year in his life trialling HIV drugs. With a reflective melancholy that's never self-indulgent, the film stretches back into memory and over the history of viruses to bring life into focus. Screening today at festival CPH:DOX in Copenhagen.
The Fountain (2006)
Darren Aronofsky's unapologetically ambitious and grandiosely romantic sci-fi fantasy about our future inevitable sees a doctor struggle to accept that his terminally ill – who is writing a story about a conquistador on a quest for the Tree of Life – is about to die. The film leaps forward to 2055, to an outer space of golden nebulas where the connection between all existence can be gleaned.
Everyday Rebellion (2013)
This insightful Austrian documentary from the Riahi Brothers offers a snapshot of the state of non-violent resistance movements and the different forms they are taking around the world to safeguard the future - from the FEMEN group in Ukraine to Occupy Wall Street and the Indignados in Spain. Screening at CPH:DOX festival in Copenhagen today and tomorrow.
La Jetée (1962)
Chris Marker's sci-fi featurette, the inspiration for Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys, tells in still photos of a time travel experiment from a post-apocalyptic Paris. The dreamlike remake of the film by Matt Lambert of London art collective Bare Bones will form part of our upcoming Dazed Visionaries series.
Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai's visually lush, nostalgia-drenched sequel to In the Mood for Love sees writer Chow (Tony Leung) mourning his ill-fated affair with Su (Maggie Cheung). Sci-fi sequences are intertwined from his novel set in the far future on a vast rail network of lonely souls trying to reach 2046 – where nothing changes, so there is never loss.
Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky's Soviet-era masterpiece eerily foreshadowed the wasteland of Chernobyl. A Stalker leads an expedition into a forbidden Zone – a water-drenched place of flux cordoned off by the military with a Room said to fulfill innermost desires. A haunting meditation on the dangers of getting what you long for.
This vibrantly surreal, blackly witty cult classic from Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro is set in a post-apocalyptic France short on food. In a dilapidated apartment building a landlord butchers victims to sell as cheap meat to his tenants – to the disapproval of the vegetarian rebels underground. A bizarre vision for a sustainability-challenged world.
We can't forget Fritz Lang's German Expressionist epic – the big daddy of futurism. In a stunning Art Deco-styled dystopia where workers toil over machines to maintain the rich, the son of a powerful industrialist orchestrates an overthrow after falling for Maria, who prophesies a hopeful future.