Showing posts with label Video-clips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Video-clips. Show all posts

29 October 2021

[Audio Blog Tour] 'Widdershins' (Widdershins, Book 1) By Helen Steadman Narrated by Christine Mackie #HistoricalFiction #Witches #Audiobook

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[Audio Blog Tour] 'Widdershins' (Widdershins, Book 1) By Helen Steadman Narrated by Christine Mackie #HistoricalFiction #Witches #Audiobook
Widdershins - Tour Banner

The Book: 

Widdershins
(Widdershins, Book 1)
By Helen Steadman
Narrated by Christine Mackie

The Blurb:

The new audio book of Widdershins is narrated brilliantly by talented actor, Christine Mackie, from Downton Abbey, Coronation Street, Wire in the Blood, and so on.

The first part of a two-part series, Widdershins is inspired by the Newcastle witch trials, where 16 people were hanged. Despite being the largest mass execution of witches on a single day in England, these trials are not widely known about. In August 1650, 15 women and one man were hanged as witches after a Scottish witchfinder found them guilty of consorting with the devil. This notorious man was hired by the Puritan authorities in response to a petition from the Newcastle townsfolk who wanted to be rid of their witches.

Widdershins is told through the eyes of Jane Chandler, a young woman accused of witchcraft, and John Sharpe, the witchfinder who condemns her to death. Jane Chandler is an apprentice healer. From childhood, she and her mother have used herbs to cure the sick. But Jane soon learns that her sheltered life in a small village is not safe from the troubles of the wider world. From his father’s beatings to his uncle’s raging sermons, John Sharpe is beset by bad fortune. Fighting through personal tragedy, he finds his purpose: to become a witchfinder and save innocents from the scourge of witchcraft.

Praise for Widdershins:
The Historical Novel Society said of Widdershins: “
Impeccably written, full of herbal lore and the clash of ignorance and prejudice against common sense, as well as the abounding beauty of nature, it made for a great read. There are plenty of books, both fact and fiction, available about the witch-trial era, but not only did I not know about such trials in Newcastle, I have not read a novel that so painstakingly and vividly evokes both the fear and joy of living at that time.

Trigger Warnings:
Domestic abuse, rape, torture, execution, child abuse, animal abuse, miscarriage, death in childbirth.
[Audio Blog Tour] 'Widdershins' (Widdershins, Book 1) By Helen Steadman Narrated by Christine Mackie #HistoricalFiction #Witches #Audiobook
Widdershins - dark and haunting

Buy Links:

[Audio Blog Tour] 'Widdershins' (Widdershins, Book 1) By Helen Steadman Narrated by Christine Mackie #HistoricalFiction #Witches #Audiobook
Widdershins - audio cover

'Widdershins' - Excerpt:



[Audio Blog Tour] 'Widdershins' (Widdershins, Book 1) By Helen Steadman Narrated by Christine Mackie #HistoricalFiction #Witches #Audiobook
Helen Steadman

Author Bio:

Dr Helen Steadman is a historical novelist. Her first novel, Widdershins and its sequel, Sunwise were inspired by the Newcastle witch trials. Her third novel, The Running Wolf was inspired by a group of Lutheran swordmakers who defected from Germany to England in 1687.

Despite the Newcastle witch trials being the largest mass execution of witches on a single day in England, they are not widely known about. Helen is particularly interested in revealing hidden histories and she is a thorough researcher who goes to great lengths in pursuit of historical accuracy. To get under the skin of the cunning women in Widdershins and Sunwise, Helen trained in herbalism and learned how to identify, grow and harvest plants and then made herbal medicines from bark, seeds, flowers and berries.

The Running Wolf is the story of a group of master swordmakers who left Solingen, Germany and moved to Shotley Bridge, England in 1687. As well as carrying out in-depth archive research and visiting forges in Solingen to bring her story to life, Helen also undertook blacksmith training, which culminated in making her own sword. During her archive research, Helen uncovered a lot of new material and she published her findings in the Northern History journal.

Helen is now working on her fourth novel.

Connect With Helen Steadman:

[Audio Blog Tour] 'Widdershins' (Widdershins, Book 1) By Helen Steadman Narrated by Christine Mackie #HistoricalFiction #Witches #Audiobook
Narrator, Christine Mackie

Audiobook Narrator Bio:

Christine Mackie has worked extensively in TV over the last thirty years in well-known TV series such as Downton Abbey, Wire in the Blood, Coronation Street, French & Saunders and The Grand. Theatre work includes numerous productions in new writing as well as classics, such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Comedy of Errors, Richard III, An Inspector Calls, and the Railway Children. In a recent all women version of Whisky Galore, Christine played three men, three women and a Red Setter dog!
[Audio Blog Tour] 'Widdershins' (Widdershins, Book 1) By Helen Steadman Narrated by Christine Mackie #HistoricalFiction #Witches #Audiobook
Widdershins - Tour Schedule Banner

7 October 2021

Vision Films Adds to October Halloween Film Fare With Sci-Fi Alien Adventure 'White Sky' [Trailer Included]

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Vision Films Adds to October Halloween Film Fare With Sci-Fi Alien Adventure 'White Sky' [Trailer Included]
'White Sky' Sci-Fi Thriller - Movie Poster
Vision Films Inc. announces the US and Canadian VOD release on October 16 of sci-fi alien adventure White Sky from M and M Film Productions UK. Written by Philip Daay, directed and produced by Adam Wilson, and produced by Malcolm Winter, Makenna Guyler, and Monika Gergelova of M and M. White Sky was filmed on location in Wales during the pandemic, September 2020.

Synopsis: 

When three campers witness an alien mothership descending on their town and turning the population into "Altered" human beings, they team up with a reclusive stranger who offers to guide them to safety. As they're chased deep into the forest and one of them becomes infected, they realize there's nowhere to hide from the Altered horde that seems intent upon finding and assimilating them.

Starring: 

  • Natalie Martins (Get Gone), Ade Dimberline (The Spanish Princess), Makenna Guyler (King of Crime), and Jordan McFarlane.
Vision Films Adds to October Halloween Film Fare With Sci-Fi Alien Adventure 'White Sky' [Trailer Included]
'White Sky' (Screengrab)
Lise Romanoff, CEO/Managing Director of Vision Films shares, "White Sky is the perfect sci-fi release for Halloween, it covers all the bases the horror audiences love: great special effects, suspense, action and of course, aliens."
Malcolm Winter, Managing Director/Commercial Director says, "M & M Film Productions overcome all the obstacles to shoot White Sky in the lockdown and create an entertaining Sci-Fi drama."
Monika Gergelova, CEO/Managing Director adds, "White Sky has a strong female character in "Hailey" who does not give up, no matter what she has to face. Sensational all the way through."

The Trailer:

  • White Sky will be available on all major streaming and cable platforms in the US and Canada, and on DVD October 19, 2021.
Vision Films Adds to October Halloween Film Fare With Sci-Fi Alien Adventure 'White Sky' [Trailer Included]
'White Sky' (Screengrab)

About M and M Film Productions:

M and M Film Productions is an Independent UK Motion Picture Production company founded/led by Monika Gergelova, CEO/Managing Director and Malcolm Winter Managing Director/Commercial Director and together they bring decades of motion picture and investment financing to M & M Film Productions. The principals also possess well-respected relationships with production suppliers and distribution outlets on a needed basis.

15 September 2021

[Blog Tour] 'The Wisdom of the Flock: Franklin and Mesmer in Paris' By Steve M. Gnatz #HistoricalFiction

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[Blog Tour] 'The Wisdom of the Flock: Franklin and Mesmer in Paris' By Steve M. Gnatz #HistoricalFiction
The Wisdom of the Flock - Tour Banner

The Book:

The Wisdom of the Flock: Franklin and Mesmer in Paris
By Steve M. Gnatz
  • Publication Date: November 2020
  • Publisher: Leather Apron Press
  • Page Length: 541 Pages
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

The Book Trailer:

The Blurb:

A WORLD OF ENLIGHTENMENT, REVOLUTION, AND INTRIGUE

1776: Benjamin Franklin sails to Paris, carrying a copy of the Declaration of Independence, freshly signed. His charge: gain the support of France for the unfolding American Revolution. Yet Paris is a city of distractions. Ben’s lover, Marianne Davies, will soon arrive, and he yearns to rekindle his affair with the beautiful musician.

Dr. Franz Mesmer has plans for Marianne too. He has taken Parisian nobility by storm with his discovery of magnétisme animale, a mysterious force claimed to heal the sick. Marianne’s ability to channel Mesmer’s phenomena is key to his success.

A skeptical King Louis XVI appoints Ben to head a commission investigating the astonishing magnétisme animale. By nature, Ben requires proof. Can he scientifically prove that it does not exist? Mesmer will stop at nothing to protect his profitable claim.

The Wisdom of The Flock explores the conflict between science and mysticism in a time rife with revolution, love, spies, and passion.

  • Trigger Warnings: Mild sexual content
[Blog Tour] 'The Wisdom of the Flock: Franklin and Mesmer in Paris' By Steve M. Gnatz #HistoricalFiction
The Wisdom of the Flock - Book Cover

'The Wisdom of the Flock: Franklin and Mesmer in Paris' - Excerpt:

The crew would be starting their breakfast soon, yet food was the last thing Ben wanted. He made his way to the cloth-covered part of the deck. The thick oaken planks were wet with rain and sea spray. The area he sought was sheltered from the howling wind. Ben found the air on deck to be electrically charged and more invigorating than usual, exactly what he needed to settle his stomach and pounding head.

Ben sat down on a deck chair and spread a heavy wool blanket over his legs to shelter himself from the cold ocean spray.

“Do you believe in God, Doctor Franklin?” a deep voice asked.

Ben jumped, flailing his arms out of his lap. He hadn’t realized he was not alone. He squinted through his bifocals to make out a gaunt man, completely dressed in black, occupying a nearby chair. He was as emaciated as a saint but with the haughty countenance of a bishop. It was the Reverend William Smith.

“Reverend, I fervently hope that not only does He exist on such a foul day as this . . . but that He has a benevolent nature,” Ben replied.

The Reverend sat back and pulled a blanket up around his neck. “Well spoken,” he said with a chill in his voice.

Ben had learned long ago that there was no gain to be had in debating religious faith with devotees such as the Reverend. It wasn’t that Ben didn’t believe in God; it was simply that he didn’t have proof. And Ben needed proof of things. He could think of only a few aspects of his life that he was willing to take on faith. The love of his late wife came to mind. But then, that belief hadn’t been based entirely on faith either, for she had had ways of proving her love to him. God was a different matter altogether. A painful memory flashed of Ben praying to God to spare his son Francis from the pox, but the four-year-old succumbed. While this certainly wasn’t proof that God didn’t exist, though, it had shaken his faith. However, Ben knew that, like any true believer worth his salt, the Reverend would have an explanation for God’s lapse. Ben decided to change the subject.

“That bolt of lightning was close just now,” Ben said. He gazed out at the clouds that flashed in the distance.

“Aye, a bit too close for comfort,” the Reverend said. “But we can thank the Almighty for the effectiveness of your lightning rod. Lord knows how many ships were destroyed by fire before you were inspired by Him to invent it.”

Ben had not been certain that the clergyman would even know about his invention. Smith’s reply encouraged him to go on.

“Thank you, Reverend,” he said. “The Lord works in mysterious ways, even through men such as me. Though I am sure He’s familiar with how the rod works, I wonder if you are?”

The Reverend sat up a bit. “I know only that the lightning bolt was somehow prevented from striking the ship,” he replied.

“Oh no, the lightning almost certainly struck our ship just now,” Ben explained. “Our mast is the tallest point for miles at sea. When I began studying the behavior of lightning, I noted that it always seeks the highest point in the landscape. Not only that, but also that lightning always seeks its way to the ground. My lightning rod simply creates a safe channel for the lightning to pass through the ship, so as not to endanger the vessel or its cargo. If the lightning were to strike a mast, there would be damage or fire. And if the damage were severe enough, it might even sink the ship.

“My rod is placed at the highest point on the ship and attracts the lightning. But that alone isn’t enough to prevent catastrophe, for I also found that I needed to channel it through the ship to the water. A thick metal cable runs from the lightning rod to below the water line to accomplish this.”

“A truly marvelous invention,” the Reverend replied. “Thanks be to God. But I thought you said that lightning always seeks the ground. Wouldn’t you have to run your metal cable back to the Colonies for the rod to be effective?”

“Excellent, excellent,” Ben exclaimed, “that is just the sort of question a man of science carries within him like a man of the cloth seeks to understand the mysteries of his faith . . . but I do beg to remind you that our country is now called the United States of America.”

“Oh, yes! Force of habit,” the Reverend exclaimed.

“Perhaps not a bad habit to maintain until your mission is accomplished,” Ben said. “Your Anglican Church does not support independence for the people of the United States.”

“That doth vex me,” the Reverend replied. He sunk back in his chair.

Ben resumed his explanation animatedly. “You will observe Reverend, as I did early on, that lightning is an electrical fluid that has no trouble traveling quickly through the air. Through careful experiments, I also found that this electrical fluid travels through water, albeit more slowly. Hence, there’s no need to run a cable back to shore so long as we are connected to the earth by water. Scientists around the world have taken to calling this electrical fluid ‘electricity’.”

“But what do you believe to be the source of this ‘electricity’, as you call it?” the Reverend asked. “The Bible tells us that lightning is sent down from Heaven by God.”

A slight shiver traveled Ben’s spine. Was it the cold sea spray or a sense that the Reverend was once again testing his religious beliefs?

It had not been so many years since scientists had been treated as heretics and persecuted for their belief that natural forces might be studied for the benefit of mankind. Now, in modern-day 1776, in this age of enlightenment, a fragile truce existed between religion and science. Ben believed the truce had occurred in part because of advances in natural philosophy—the science of the natural world and medicine.

The revelation that tiny creatures seen through the microscope by Van Leeuwenhoek and others in the last century might be the cause of human diseases was gaining wider acceptance. With increasing frequency, descriptions of these microbes and their associated diseases were being published in the proceedings of the Royal Society in London.

Ben had a personal stake in understanding the spread of disease and in making others aware. Smallpox had claimed the life of his beloved son Francis over forty years ago, and still claimed the lives of thousands each year.

It was disheartening that despite the advent of effective inoculation against smallpox, the Church continued to consider the medical technique to be inconsistent with the established canon. Ben had stormed out of more than one sermon when the clergyman had condemned vaccination as unholy.

“Reverend, you may if you wish, believe that lightning represents the wrath of God . . . sent down to avenge the sins of mankind,” Ben said. “But I believe that this electrical fluid is simply another natural force—no more mystical than the powerful flow of water through a stream that the miller uses to turn a wheel and grind the grain from the field. Mankind has learned to harness many natural forces. While it is wild and dangerous today, I believe that electricity may someday yield tangible benefits to mankind . . . if we can learn how to channel it appropriately.”

The Reverend appeared to be deep in thought. He raised his eyebrows and shrugged. “What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set ignorance in the human heart; so that no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end,” he said.

“Ecclesiastes,” Ben replied. “But what do you mean by it?”

“Ben, don’t you see that there might be mysteries that are not intended to be known to man? That God has intended for some things to be taken on faith? That your natural philosophy both cannot, and I dare say should not, attempt to provide a proof for everything under the Sun? That by attempting to do so, by requiring proof for everything, you denigrate God and His power?”

“No, I don’t see it that way at all, Reverend,” Ben said. “I believe that God would want mankind to discover the intricate workings of the universe that He has created for us to live in. I believe that He has designed us to be probing, intelligent beings; designed us to yearn to discover and elucidate the hidden workings of the universe—not designed us as sheep, blindly following established doctrine.”

The Reverend looked as if he might object but said nothing.

Ben went on. “Take your own situation as an example. You do not believe that the Anglican Church is right in backing the British in this conflict over our freedom, correct?”

The Reverend squirmed in his seat. “Aye.”

“And the Church would say that you should accept their decision blindly, that it is God’s will, correct?”

“Aye.”

“But you do not see it that way. You have seen the injustices inflicted by the British on our people. You have thought independently and asked yourself why God would want things this way. The answer we agree upon is that God would want our people to be free. It is the Church that has a different goal, the Church that has a need to maintain the status quo. Your Anglican Church claims to know the will of God in this matter . . . but do they? Once you start asking questions, as you have, once you start demanding proof of things, as I do—then you will ultimately find the correct answer: that the will of God and the will of the Church may not be one and the same.”

“Yes, I see your point,” the Reverend replied, “but what of God’s true will? Would it not be one of the mysteries that cannot be proven? Isn’t God’s will ultimately something that must be taken on faith?”

Ben didn’t have an answer to his question, but during the time they had talked, the storm had abated enough that his appetite returned.

“Reverend, what say we see what the cook has prepared for breakfast?”

“Nay, I’m not yet ready to eat, sir. I’ll sit out here a bit longer, contemplating what the Lord may have in store for me.”

Ben bid the Reverend good day and headed for the galley.


[Blog Tour] 'The Wisdom of the Flock: Franklin and Mesmer in Paris' By Steve M. Gnatz #HistoricalFiction
Steve Gnatz

Author Bio:

Steve Gnatz is a writer, physician, bicyclist, photographer, traveler, and aspiring ukulele player. The son of a history professor and a nurse, it seems that both medicine and history are in his blood. Writing historical fiction came naturally. An undergraduate degree in biology was complemented by a minor in classics. After completing medical school, he embarked on an academic medical career specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. There was little time for writing during those years, other than research papers and a technical primer on electromyography. Now retired from the practice of medicine, he devotes himself to the craft of fiction. The history of science is of particular interest, but also the dynamics of human relationships. People want to be good scientists, but sometimes human nature gets in the way. That makes for interesting stories. When not writing or traveling, he enjoys restoring Italian racing bicycles at home in Chicago with his wife and daughters.

Connect with Steve Gnatz:

 The Wisdom of the Flock - Tour Schedule Banner

3 August 2021

French-Corsican DJ Alexis Petronio Releases First Single "Strange" Featuring Keith With A Hopeful Post-Pandemic Message [Music Video Included]

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French-Corsican DJ Alexis Petronio Releases First Single "Strange" Featuring Keith With A Hopeful Post-Pandemic Message [Music Video Included]
French-Corsican DJ Alexis Petronio Releases First Single "Strange" Featuring Keith With A Hopeful Post-Pandemic Message
DJ Alexis Petronio has collaborated with guitarist and singer Keith to release his debut single, "Strange," a guitar-tinged summer anthem with a human hopeful post-pandemic message.
Alexis was inspired to write and produce the new track as COVID restrictions ease and people reconnect with each other. "The pandemic was tragic in many ways," says Alexis, "but it reminded us how important feelings of freedom and connection with other people really are."
The Singer and guitarist Keith, who features on the song, agrees: "Both Alexis and I believe that every cloud has a silver lining. 'Strange' is about embracing the opportunity for rebirth and becoming aware of the significance of our connection with people and nature in an increasingly digital new world."
French-Corsican DJ Alexis Petronio Releases First Single "Strange" Featuring Keith With A Hopeful Post-Pandemic Message [Music Video Included]
DJ Alexis Petronio and Keith
"Strange" features blues, soul, and Andalusian influences with the help of Keith's vocal and guitar, backed by Callaghan's saxophone and set against the irresistibly festive electropop production from Alexis.

"Strange" - The Music Video:

Alexis Petronio is an independent DJ and a member of the "The French Production" collective from Porto Vecchio in Corsica. He has played every summer for the last 10 years at Via Notte and at B52 with the world's biggest DJs, including David Guetta, Solomun, DJ Snake, Roger Sanchez, and Little Louie Vega. His winter appearances include Paris, Abidjan, and Tulum.
French-Corsican DJ Alexis Petronio Releases First Single "Strange" Featuring Keith With A Hopeful Post-Pandemic Message [Music Video Included]
Beach Music

Connect with Alexis Petronio:

SOURCE: La French Production

27 July 2021

The Monster Is Out of the Bottle! - Highly Anticipated Horror Film 'Bottle Monster' to be Released Early August [Trailer Included]

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The Monster Is Out of the Bottle! - Highly Anticipated Horror Film 'Bottle Monster' to be Released Early August [Trailer Included]
Bottle Monster has received numerous awards throughout its festival run.
Overloaded Mags Productions and Premiere Digital have announced the release of the Feature Film "Bottle Monster."

The psychological thriller/horror movie, centers around the anti-heroine Allison Keys, who struggles to raise her young son while trying unsuccessfully to fight her addiction to alcohol. Alison's world crumbles as she tries to flee her life, only to come face-to-face with a real-life monster.
  • Written, directed and produced by powerhouse, Marjorie DeHey, the film has won numerous festival accolades domestically and internationally. 
This modern-day take on the classic "creature-feature" is set for release on August 3, 2021, and will be available on VUDU, DISH, Redbox OnDemand, Rogers, Tubi, numerous other streaming platforms and currently available for pre-order from iTunes ahead of its wider release.

The Monster Is Out of the Bottle! - Highly Anticipated Horror Film 'Bottle Monster' to be Released Early August [Trailer Included]
Behind the scenes of Bottle Monster. From left to right: Ryker Overacker - Actor, Paul Overacker - Producer, Marjorie DeHey - Director, Zac Overacker - Production Manager, Gabriel Chacon - Associate Producer/Sound Mixer; Photo Credit: Rodin Eckenroth (@rodinphotography)
DeHey began creating her own films in 2017 following a near-death experience upon the discovery of a large brain tumor. Having worked on the business side of the industry for years, she was frustrated with the lack of opportunities available to women directors, so she determined to create her own opportunities. For her, "Bottle Monster" not only reflects Allison's struggles as a woman and a mother but also every woman's daily struggle to try to balance all the challenges in their lives. It is a poignant reflection of how some women lose the fight to drugs and alcohol only to redeem themselves when their child is in real danger.
"For me, the true horror of "Bottle Monster" is Allison's internal struggle. The monster, while real, is a reflection of Allison's darkness and self-loathing. Allison wants to ask for help but she doesn't know how. She wants to be a good mother, but the tragic and haunting events of her life drive her to find solace at the bottom of a bottle. Her son is forced to grow up too fast and they are pushed into fighting an atrocity that they cannot truly comprehend," says DeHey.

The Trailer:

The film stars Billie Proffitt, industry veteran Willie Aames, Emmy-award winning actor Kim Estes, and introduces Ryker Overacker. It was produced by Paul Overacker, and Marjorie DeHey, both of whom earned the coveted "Produced By Mark" (p.g.a.) from the Producers Guild of America in recognition of their roles in the production of the film.

SOURCE: Bottle Monster LLC

7 July 2021

Vision Films Brings Post-Apocalyptic Contamination Flick 'Lethal Virus' to Audiences This Summer [Trailer Included]

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Vision Films Brings Post-Apocalyptic Contamination Flick 'Lethal Virus' to Audiences This Summer [Trailer Included]
'Lethal Virus' - Movie Poster
Vision Films Inc. announced the North American release of the contagion horror film Lethal Virus on July 27. The film, partially shot during the pandemic, is a production of Virtual World Pictures and World Real Games, with the collaboration of Canary Film Factory and directed by filmmaker Daniel H. Torrado, who also co-produced, co-wrote and post-produced. 
Eerily familiar, a deadly and highly contagious Corona virus sweeps across the globe, this time unleashing flesh-eating zombies. Although the film is to entertain with a good dose of action and suspense, it is a warning about the dangers of climate change and the need for a more caring society. Can anyone survive?

The Synopsis: 

In a post-apocalyptic world where food is scarce and danger is high, a new super virus begins to infect the remaining population and threatens to destroy what's left of humankind. As a special forces group transports a young scientist, their last hope for a cure, to her lab against all odds of survival, they encounter zombie-like creatures who are the newest victims of the super virus.

The Trailer:


Starring an international cast including Christian Stamm (Westworld, Malnazidos), Loretta Hope (Barren, Hexagon), Ramón Álvarez (Justice League, Jurassic World) and Tomas Paredes (James Bond, El Cid). And for the action scenes, the team of specialists from films such as Assassin's Creed, Mission: Impossible - Fallout, Rambo 5, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Terminator 6, among others, were used.
Lise Romanoff, CEO/Managing Director of Vision Films shares, "Lethal Virus is such a timely film that brings together an international cast and great effects for a harrowing and gruesome escapade to save humanity."
Writer/Director Daniel Torrado says, "During the filming, the pandemic began and we watched in amazement as the script was transforming into reality before our eyes. During the shooting we also suffered the inclemency of climate change, in the form of unexpected snowfalls and torrential rains, but we decided to use the setbacks to our advantage, adapting the scenes and including snowy sequences of great visual beauty."

  • The zombie thriller will be available on VOD and cable platforms across the US and Canada, and on DVD. Official Selection of the NIAFFS International Action Film Festival 2021.

25 June 2021

China Is Using Mythology & Sci-Fi To Sell Its Space Programme To The World

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China Is Using Mythology & Sci-Fi To Sell Its Space Programme To The World
The Wandering Earth is a Chinese sci-fi film which the government promoted abroad. (Netflix)
On the morning of June 17, China launched its long-awaited Shenzhou-12 spacecraft, carrying three Chinese astronauts – or taikonauts – towards the Tianhe core module. The module itself was launched at the end of April, forming part of the permanent Tiangong space station, which is planned to remain in orbit for the next ten years.

China’s construction of its own space station stems from the nation’s exclusion from the International Space Station, a result of US concerns over technology transfers that could enhance China’s military capabilities. Undeterred by this, China has forged ahead with its own space programmes and alliances. Since, the country has demonstrated that the Chinese “brand” of space technology is reputable and can hold its own in the international arena.

An impressive track record of remarkable space endeavours is not the only thing that distinguishes China’s space brand from other national players. The government and related organisations have made concerted efforts to establish a unique “Chinese space culture” alongside the country’s advances in space technology. While the target audience for many of these cultural creations remains domestic, China’s space ambitions are directed at global audiences in a variety of ways.

Legendary beginnings

Perhaps the most obvious example of this is the naming of these programmes after China’s traditional roots.

The name Tiangong translates as “Heavenly Palace”. This was the residence of the deity who holds supreme authority over the universe in Chinese mythology, the Celestial Ruler. The name is particularly fitting for a Chinese space station, which acts as a home in the heavens for the country’s taikonauts. The meaning of Shenzhou, the missions that take taikonauts to space, is “Divine Vessel”, which is also a homophone for an ancient name for China, “Divine Land”.  

China Is Using Mythology & Sci-Fi To Sell Its Space Programme To The World
The Moon Goddess Chang'e. (Wikimeda)
China’s lunar exploration missions, meanwhile, are named after the legendary Moon goddess Chang’e. The tale goes that Chang’e flew from Earth to the Moon after stealing the elixir of immortality from her husband, Hou Yi.

According to Chinese mythology, Chang’e continues to live on the Moon with her rabbit companion, who spends its time pounding the elixir of immortality in a mortar for the goddess. The rabbit is known as Yutu, or “Jade Rabbit”. China’s two lunar rovers, the second of which became the first to land on the far side of the Moon in 2019, are named after it.

A key component of this lunar landing mission was Queqiao, a communication relay satellite. This was named after the myth of the “Magpie Bridge”, which joins the “Cowherd” and the “Weaver Girl” across the stretch of the Milky Way in a romantic folktale. The satellite acted as a vital bridge of communication between the Chang’e mission components and China’s mission control centre.

The linking of China’s traditional past to its forward-looking space activities serves to strengthen the identity of these space programmes as distinctly Chinese.

In connecting these achievements to the country’s cultural heritage, they are presented not as mere copies of their space power predecessors, but as having developed from national talents and progresses. They also serve as a reminder that while the programmes aim for the furthest reaches of space, China’s future will never be disconnected from its national and cultural roots.

Furthermore, these legendary names are a signal to the international community that space is not the exclusive domain of historical western figures such as Apollo or Artemis, but that it also belongs to the lineage of the Chinese people.

China’s future in fiction

Over the last few years, multiple corporations based in China have released space-themed commercial products and promotional campaigns in conjunction with China’s official space organisations, from upmarket fashion brands to KFC. But perhaps the most notable promotion of China’s space ambitions is in films.

In 2019, the blockbuster sci-fi film The Wandering Earth was released. The film was well received, and was publicised by the state’s international media platforms as a must-see.

Director Frant Gwo has spoken about the importance of the message behind the film, claiming that China’s way of thinking about space is vastly different from US ideologies. According to Gwo, while the US dreams of eventually leaving the Earth to move to other planets, the Chinese space dream is to improve life on Earth through the use of space resources. The film promotes the idea that we mustn’t try to flee our planet, but instead, we must strive to protect it. 


While most space-themed commercial products remain aimed at a domestic market, Chinese sci-fi is becoming increasingly popular abroad. Books such as The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin, who wrote the short story which The Wandering Earth was adapted from, Folding Beijing by Hao Jingfang, which is also being adapted for the screen, and The Redemption of Time by Baoshu have all succeeded as translations.

Recognised by politicians as a potentially powerful tool for promoting state-approved narratives, government bodies have encouraged China’s sci-fi filmmakers to incorporate narratives that fit with the regime’s wider ideological and technological ambitions.

The fantasy aspect of sci-fi may explain why the genre is being internationally promoted first over other commercial products that feature imagery of actual Chinese space missions. Unlike China’s increasing capabilities in space, which are viewed as a threat by the US, the country’s fictional space developments pose no real-life risk. Able to incorporate the backdrop of a technologically powerful China into entertaining and compelling narratives, such stories allow foreign audiences to engage with the idea of China as a space power without the kind of political discourse that surrounds its real space activities.

Eventually, a foreign audience may begin to grow more comfortable with the notion of China as a technological world leader. And this, in turn, may cultivate an interest in the activities of the Chinese national space programme.

About Today's Contributor:

17 June 2021

Amazons And Warrior Princesses On Screen – The Legacy Of Xena 20 Years On

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Amazons And Warrior Princesses On Screen – The Legacy Of Xena 20 Years On
Lucy Lawless as the fierce Xena, the warrior princess (AF archive / Alamy)
Xena the warrior princess, played by Lucy Lawless, captivated audiences around the world for six series with her high kicks, sword skills and distinctive war cry. The series followed her as she fought her way through armies, monsters and gods, alongside her soul mate and moral compass, Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor).

Xena travelled across space and time, taking us from ancient Greece to Rome, Egypt, Britain, China, India, Scandinavia and finally to Japan, where it all came to an end 20 years ago on June 18 2001.

Starting life as an antagonist of Hercules in three episodes of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena was so popular as a character that she was given her spin-off series that ran from 1995 to 2001. At the time, Xena: Warrior Princess was considered groundbreaking as it started a strong female action heroine and was the only popular adventure, action, science fiction or fantasy show that featured female leads without male counterparts.

On the 20th anniversary of the final episode, it worth revisiting this great show and exploring why it was loved by a truly broad spectrum of viewers, from young girls drawn in by an active female role model and ancient history buffs to sci-fi fans and the LGBTQ community.

Xena and the Amazons

A reformed warlord from ancient Greece, Xena was not an Amazon but a friend to the tribes of warrior women. To ancient Greek writers, the Amazons were women who fought and behaved like men and were unnatural barbarians. They have since been adopted as positive female role models who break with misogynistic stereotypes of womanhood – they live in a self-sufficient, female-dominated society as warriors and intellects. The term Amazon feminism is now used to describe a branch of feminism that promotes female physical prowess as a way to achieve gender equality.

Before Xena, the Amazons featured in the 1970s Wonder Woman series. Not quite the feminist icons we expect today, these women wore pastel-coloured negligees as they adopted a peaceful life without men on Paradise Island.

In Xena, while the Amazons may also have been attired in revealing costumes made of furs and skins, their separatist society values martial as well as academic skills. An Amazon tells Gabrielle that the Amazon world is based on “truth and an individual woman’s strength”.

The Amazons from Greek mythology lived apart from men, at the edge of the known world, and fought bravely against male heroes such as Hercules, Theseus and Achilles. In Xena, the Amazons also live in a matriarchal society and are skilled fighters who can hold their own against men.

The Amazons in Wonder Woman (2017) can be seen as Xena’s big-screen descendants. The costumes and fighting prowess of Penthesilea (Nina Milner) in the BBC drama Troy: Fall of a City (2018) has tinges of Xena. While the leadership ability of the immortal Amazon Andy (Charlize Theron) in the Netflix film The Old Guard, can also be seen as inspired by Xena.

But while Troy: Fall of a City and The Old Guard are aimed at older audiences, Xena was popular across all age groups. For instance, episodes of Xena were broadcast in the UK on Channel Five’s Milkshake! Saturday morning slot in the 90s and early noughties for young viewers. This led many young girls to adopt Xena as their role model.

Amazons And Warrior Princesses On Screen – The Legacy Of Xena 20 Years On
Xena and Gabrielle (Screengrab)

The Xena subtext

Xena was also popular with gay and lesbian viewers. In the 1990s, openly gay relationships were mostly missing from popular US television series. However, Xena’s relationship with Gabrielle was interpreted as much as that of hero and sidekick as it was friends and lovers. Series producers began to play with this idea, for example, putting Xena and Gabrielle together in a sexy bath in season two fan-favourite episode A Day in the Life, so that for many, the subtext became the main text.

Although a lot of fans were dismayed that Xena died in the final episode they were treated to a long goodbye kiss between Gabrielle and Xena’s ghost. Series producers never openly made Xena and Gabrielle a lesbian couple. But LGBTQ+ fans championed their relationship, which is believed to have paved the way for openly gay relationships we see in television series today.

One of the joys of looking back at Xena 20 years on is its playfulness when compared with dark fantasy sci-fi fantasies like Game of Thrones. It features seriously badass female characters, and at times offers a serious message about female solidarity and feminism, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. Some of the special effects may now seem dated, but the storylines still ring true and the characters of Xena and Gabrielle can continue to be inspirational for a new generation of young female viewers.

About Today's Contributor:

Amanda Potter, Visiting Research Fellow, The Open University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

10 June 2021

"Procession", An Augmented-Reality Artwork Of Our Not-So-Distant Future, Debuts At The Tribeca Festival [Trailer Included]

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"Procession", An Augmented-Reality Artwork Of Our Not-So-Distant Future, Debuts At The Tribeca Festival [Trailer Included]
Procession (Tribeca Festival Poster)
Dustin Yellin, in collaboration with the National Wildlife Federation, Droga5, Squint/Opera, Q Department, Mach1 and Vrai Pictures, has announced the launch of Procession, a new interactive artwork that lets anyone in the world place a Dustin Yellin sculpture in their immediate environment and bring the art to life through complete explorative immersion, revealing hundreds of narratives within the piece. 

Set to debut globally at this year's Tribeca Festival, Procession is a groundbreaking augmented-reality (AR) app experience set in a utopian world where human-created climate change wreaks havoc as you watch.
Procession is one of the first fine-art AR projects based on a realized sculpture to combine animation, collage and archival footage into an explorative interactive soundscape. It presents our near future, a period of global unrest and environmental destruction, spurred by raging flood waters and massive wildfires. Humanity is faced with a choice: living in ignorance or uniting to preserve what's left of our planet.

"Procession", An Augmented-Reality Artwork Of Our Not-So-Distant Future, Debuts At The Tribeca Festival [Trailer Included]
Procession (Screengrab)
"My goal has always been to democratize art and create a living, breathing canvas that can be affected by every participant who touches it. Procession presents our near future, a period of global unrest and environmental destruction, spurred by raging flood waters and massive wildfires," said Dustin Yellin.
Through the accessibility of its art, Procession unites people in taking action to preserve our natural environment. Through education, awareness and a directive that links to National Wildlife Federation's nonprofit climate initiatives, Procession joins the fight to preserve our delicate ecosystem before we lose it.

"Procession", An Augmented-Reality Artwork Of Our Not-So-Distant Future, Debuts At The Tribeca Festival [Trailer Included]
Procession (Screengrab)
"The experience of becoming part of Dustin's art makes it clear that each of us has an impact on our planet and when we choose to take the steps necessary to protect wildlife and the natural world, we will be able to create a more equitable and sustainable planet for everyone," said Carey Stanton, Head of Innovation Partnerships for the National Wildlife Federation. "We are thrilled to be the wildlife conservation partner for Procession."
  • Procession was created in a unique collaboration of established creative and production partners including global creative agency Droga5, creative studio Squint/Opera, music studios Q Department and Mach1, and immersive design studio Vrai Pictures.
"Procession", An Augmented-Reality Artwork Of Our Not-So-Distant Future, Debuts At The Tribeca Festival [Trailer Included]
Procession (Screengrab)
"We've been working on this collaboration for quite some time, and it's a pleasure to see the work of Dustin, Droga5 and our partners finally realized in such a pure, impactful way," said Director of Innovation at Droga5 Justin Durazzo. "We're really excited to deliver this interactive art piece in our rapidly evolving tech and climate landscape and hope everyone—regardless of their age, beliefs or background—will relate to it."
"The partnership was driven by our desire to make this world more intricate and immersive, more fun and educational. Technology allowed us to add animation and special effects, social interactions and gaming achievements to create a brand new artwork that truly leverages the medium it is made with," said Director of Technology at Squint/Opera Elie Zananiri. "We are very proud of this collaboration and how the AR experience turned out."

Procession - The Trailer:


  • Procession is available on Apple iOS and Android (listed as Procession AR). To download the experience, go to Procession.World.

About Dustin Yellin:

Dustin Yellin is an artist who lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is the founder and director of Pioneer Works, a multidisciplinary cultural center in Red Hook, Brooklyn. His work has been exhibited at Amorepacific Museum, Brooklyn Museum, City Museum, Colección Solo, Corning Museum of Glass, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Museo Del Palacio de Bellas Artes, SCAD Museum of Art, Tacoma Museum, and with Creative Time, amongst many others. Yellin is often featured in diverse media ranging from the New York Times, to Artforum, Vanity Fair, and TED. He holds an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

About National Wildlife Federation:

The National Wildlife Federation is America's largest and most trusted conservation organization, uniting all Americans to ensure wildlife thrive in a rapidly changing world. 

About Droga5:

Droga5, part of Accenture Interactive, is a creative agency with offices in New York, London and Tokyo. From integrated communications and experience innovation to business design, Droga5 exists to build and sustain the most influential brands of the 21st century through creativity. Droga5 was founded in 2006 and has been recognized as Agency of the Year more than 25 times and was named both Ad Age and Adweek's Agency of the Decade (2010–2019). Droga5 clients include Allstate, Amazon, Biofreeze, Chase, Essentia, The Hershey Company, IHOP, Kerrygold, Kimberly-Clark, lululemon, LVMH, Maserati, Mattress Firm, The New York Times and among others. 

About Squint/Opera:

Squint/Opera is a creative studio that brings together storytelling, media production, technology and design. The studio specialises in digital media and works with ambitious partners to communicate big ideas. With studios in London and New York, they have an international portfolio of clients, including the Empire State Building, V&A, The Metropolitan Museum, Battersea Power Station, Bordeaux Wine museum and Museum of Irish Literature.

About Q Department:

Q Department is an award winning sound production studio focused on bringing Hollywood production value to XR through our proprietary, patented Mach1 sound technology.

About Vrai Pictures:

Vrai Pictures is an XR design studio that seeks the truth in immersive media. We leverage emerging spatial computing technologies to explore the evolution of human-data interaction in order to build emotional, inclusive, and impactful experiences.
SOURCE Dustin Yellin LLC

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