The History of Future Folk: LAFF Review

A low-key sci-fi mashup that charms by focusing on character rather than grandiose special effects.

Music-loving aliens launch an invasion of earth in J. Anderson Mitchell and Jeremy Kipp Walker’s debut feature.

Brooklyn becomes ground zero for a small-scale alien invasion in this lighthearted comedy accompanied by acoustic guitar and banjo. Though it’s fairly quirky and definitely niche, The History of Future Folk could still find an audience through a limited theatrical release or on VOD.

With the planet Hondo dead center in the path of an oncoming comet, General Trius (Nils d'Aulaire) is sent to earth to evaluate the planet for a Hondonian invasion and resettlement of the population. After crash-landing his spaceship in the vicinity of Brooklyn, Trius AKA Bill sets out on his mission, only to be blindsided by the sounds of music, a phenomenon unknown on Hondo. Smitten by the power of melody and song, Bill sets aside his weapons and takes up the banjo, marrying a local girl (Julie Ann Emery) and settling down to start a family.

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The arrival of a fellow Hondonian Kevin (Jay Klaitz) on a mission to assassinate Bill puts him on high alert, because Bill knows that it’s just the leading edge of a certain invasion of earth.  Although Bill subdues Kevin with the power of music and the two form a bluegrass duo known as Future Folk to play local bars -- soon attracting a sizeable following -- it’s only a matter of time before the impending Hondonian invasion threatens them all.

Whimsically combining elements of sci-fi, drama and musical comedy, J. Anderson Mitchell and Jeremy Kipp Walker’s debut feature is a unique mashup that succeeds more by sheer originality than any singular reserve of talent. Klaitz and d'Aulaire are effective as the bumbling aliens, as well as  lively musicians who become all the more approachable playing folk tunes in their bright-red spacesuits.  

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Walker and Mitchell keep the narrative straightforward and involving by focusing on the key characters and their quest to relate to humanity and celebrate their musical passion. Adeptly substituting inventive production design and costuming for hi-tech special effects, the filmmakers craft a thoroughly relatable small-scale sci-fi epic.

Venue: Los Angeles Film Festival

Production companies: Maida Vale Films presents in association with Dig It Audio and Beach House Music

Cast: Jay Klaitz, Nils d'Aulaire, Julie Ann Emery, April Hernandez Castillo, Onata Aprile, Dee Snider

Directors: J. Anderson Mitchell, Jeremy Kipp Walker

Screenwriter: J. Anderson Mitchell

Producers: Jeremy Kipp Walker, Jon Bulette, Andrew Goldman, Smokey Nelson

Executive producers: Tom Efinger, Tim Williams, Ben Browning

Director of photography: Martin Matiasek

Production designer: Anu Schwartz

Costume designer: Stephani Lewis

Editors: Nick Paley, Jeremy Kipp Walker

Music:  Future Folk, Tim Williams

No rating, 86 minutes