With special effects blockbusters growing ever more prevalent, fantasy and science fiction filmmaking has become synonymous with the CGI of Peter Jackson’s big budget Tolkien epics and J. J. Abrams’s Star Trek lens-flare fests. But there's still space out there for the upstart moviemakers who are more THX 1138 George Lucas and less The Phantom Menace George Lucas. This weekend, 20 such individuals bring their films to the annual Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Film Festival at Cinerama to prove that smaller scales and smaller budgets don’t correlate with smaller imaginations. Tickets for the festival on Saturday, January 11 are sold out, but SIFF Cinema Uptown is hosting an encore screening the following day (Sunday, January 12).

This year's crop of entries feature dragons, a hipster Twilight Zone homage, aliens, a hotel destroying werewolf, robots, a video game love story, a Primer-esque science-heavy mind bender, and more. (Full disclosure: I was on the panel of judges for this year's fest and have seen all the films.) Considering how weak some of 2013's big budget sci-fi films were (I'm looking at you Elysium), the Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Film Festival offers fans of the genre a chance to get a much needed nerdy fix with some hidden gems.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Film Festival
Jan 11, Cinerama, sold out. Encore screening on Jan 12, SIFF Cinema Uptown, $11.

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