Long Lost 'Black Angel' to Be Shown at Mill Valley

Mill Valley Film Festival - P 2013
Unseen for more than 30 years, the companion short to "The Empire Strikes Back" will be screened at this year's Mill Valley Film Festival.

Next month, a piece of Star Wars history will appear before the public for the first time in more than 30 years, when Black Angel -- a fantasy short that was screened alongside The Empire Strikes Back in European and Australian theaters in 1980 -- is screened at the Mill Valley Film Festival.

The short was written and directed by Roger Christian, who had worked as the set designer on the original Star Wars before making his directorial debut on the 25-minute movie, which tells the story of a knight returning from the Crusades only to find himself transported to a fantasy realm, where he has to rescue a princess.

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The short received limited distribution outside the Empire support slot, and was never released on DVD or VHS, despite being cited as an influence on movies from Excalibur to Hellboy and even Empire Strikes Back itself. Indeed, the original negative for the movie was believed lost until late 2011.

Now, thanks to restoration from the Bay Area Visual Effects Society along with Athena Studios of Emeryville, CA, Black Angel is going to make a second public debut at Mill Valley, and then -- well, that's not entirely certain at this point. Christian has talked about possible digital distribution at some point in the future, but no deal is in place yet. For now, all Star Wars 'completists' should really work out a way to get to the Bay Area on October 13; otherwise, who knows when this chance will come again.