Oddball Films' Director Stephen Parr will be presenting a program on Retro Robot Films during the 3rd Annual Robot Film Festival. After two evocative summers in NYC, the Robot Film Festival (RFF) is entering its third year of bringing artful, witty, and cutting-edge films to film and tech lovers like you! RFF is a pioneer in investigating the human-machine relationship in front of the lens, particularly aiming to promote positive storytelling about robotics. Parr's program of Retro Robot Films, a tribute to robots, robotics and mechanized machines features films such as Elektro The Smoking Robot from the New York World's Fair, No. 00137, The Weird World of Robots with Isaac Asimov, an excerpt of Ray Bradbury's Electric Grandmother, a Westworld Production Short for Michael Crichton's sci-fi Western, Daffy Duck in Design For Leaving, The Robotic Revolution, Mr. Koumal Invents a Robot, Ballet Robotique, robotic commercials and much, much more.
Crowds flocked to see Elektro, a robot built by Westinghouse Electric for the 1939 New York World's Fair. The talking Elektro described himself as a "smart fellow" with a "fine brain" consisting of 48 electrical relays that worked like a telephone switchboard.
Elektro was a bit of a wise-ass, making lame jokes, smoking cigarettes, and blowing up balloons. Elektro could walk (slowly), move his mouth, and turn his head. The 7-foot-tall creation took voice commands via a telephone handset.
No. 00137 (Color, 9 min)
Jan Habarta, prize winner at many festivals for his earlier films, created this brilliant commentary on the dehumanization of life in a technological world. The deceptively simple visual technique is remarkable in its ability to involve the emotions of the viewer without a word of dialogue. Into the cold, dispassionate atmosphere of a factory run by automatons comes a small red butterfly. Attracted by the little creature and concerned for its safety as it [flies?] perilously close to the giant presses, the workers show their first sign of human emotion. Aware that the/[line break] strictly organized environment, we find ourselves caught up in the agonizing suspense of the situation. The final fate of the butterfly [...] yet in no way unexpected, gives enormous impact to the theme of the film. Script, direction, and graphic design by Jan Habarta. Music by Eugeniusz Rudnik. Photography by Henryk Ryszka. Produced by Short Film Studio, Warsaw.
The Weird World of Robots (Color, 1968)
Famed sci-fi author and futurist Isaac Asimov and Walter Cronkite investigate the strange and surreal world of robotics in the 1960s. Asimov advocates a race of “worker robots” to do the blue collar work for planet earth. Watch a robotic dog (Old Yaller), human amplifiers, a centaur and robotic machines designed to stimulate human responses to medical students. Later the “grave” questions are posed: “There is no question that man can live with the robot. The question is, can the robot live with man?”
The Electric Grandmother (Excerpt, Color, 1981) When a family loses their mother, they receive an offer to create a robotic replacement. Built to their specifications, the robot steps in to offer them consolation and a matriarchal hand as they deal with their grief and loss. But can a robot, even the most advanced, really fill in the void of losing their real mother and what happens to a robot when they've fulfilled their obligation? Directed by, Noel Black (Pretty Poison) and starring Maureen Stapleton (Cocoon, Interiors) and Edward Herrmann (The Lost Boys, The Great Gatsby).
Westworld Production Short (Color, 1973) Behind-the-scenes of Michael Crichton’s classic cyber “Westworld”, where a vacation fantasy world for rich vacationers goes horribly wrong. Stars Yul Brenner as a killer robot.
Design For Leaving (Color, 1953)
Daffy Duck is a salesman for a futuristic appliance company, who, against Elmer Fudd's will, modernizes Fudd's house with many robotic and screwball gadgets, none of which work in Fudd's favor. A classic cartoon.
The Robotic Revolution (Color, 1986)
Shows how robots can assemble watches and automobiles, stock supermarket shelves, assist in surgery, play the organ, and build other robots. Tells what a robot can and cannot do and examines the social implications of robots in the workplace.
Mr Koumal Invents a Robot (Color, 1968)
Mr. Koumal has a hard time polishing his shoes, so invents a machine to do it, then a robot that will do it instead. He ends up polishing the robot’s shoes instead.
Part of a series of Czech animations featuring the bulbous-nosed Mr. Koumal. These animated films illustrate a variety of human accomplishments in parable form.
An imaginative glimpse at the role of robotic technologies in the General Motors automotive assembly process. The film features beautifully shot footage of GM assembly line robots in action, synchronized to classical music performed by London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The result is a over the top homage to the art and innovation of GM technology (in 1982, not today!). The film received two Academy Award nominations.
Plus! robot karate, droid commercials and more preshow films..
The Robot Film Festival is an annual celebration of robots on screen and in performance. The event features screenings of invited and submitted short films, live performances, and a red- carpet "Botskers" awards ceremony. The first festival of its kind, the Robot Film Festival was founded in 2011 to inject a sense of playfulness into traditional science and engineering and to promote positive storytelling with and about robots. This year's Festival is headlined on Saturday, July 20th by a special curated selection of robot-themed footage from the collections of Stephen Parr's Oddball Film archives. Over the course of the festivities, attendees will have the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful Potrero Hill neighborhood, to savor delicious locally-made food and beverages, to appreciate robotic demonstrations and art exhibits, and to engage in stimulating discussions about the curated screening sessions. Sunday, July 21st will feature a special workshop in which participants will create a robotic film with Festival hosts Bot & Dolly. Now bi-coastal and in its third year, the festival is more than an annual event — through its online video archives and traveling screenings around the country, the team behind the Robot Film Festival is nurturing a community of creatives and engineers who explore the imaginative world of robotics.