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Thursday, 15 December 2016

The SF Connexion in Turckheim!

Bonjour, hallo, and welcome to Embrace Space! Today, we're focusing on the science fiction and fantasy genres as we take a look at the 68th Imperial's SF-Connexion convention, hosted this year in Turckheim, France!

I have been to a fair number of nerdy conventions in the past decade, I've even hosted a few myself, and I must say that they are an enjoyable experience. Each event is unique in terms of locale, exhibitors, and special guests, but each promotes creativity and congregation, which I wholeheartedly enjoy.

The SF-Connexion was hosted in one large, open room in the small city of Turckheim. It featured exhibitors and vendors, showing off an impressive collection of memorabilia.

There were collectibles from Robocop (badges, prop guns, even a life-sized mannequin), Back to the Future (small model Deloreans, Marty McFly figurines), the Alien franchise (LEGO eggs and xenomorphs), Star Wars (lightsabers, X-Wings, a life-sized R2D2, and so much more) and, surprisingly, some Star Trek memorabilia as well.

As I've mentioned before, Star Trek is not that common in France. I'm not sure why, but it just doesn't seem to resonate with the French people, and is rarely, if ever, present on the big and small screens here. The show wasn't even picked up by France broadcasters until 1981, a decade and a half after it first aired. However, I was pleasantly surprised to note that one corner of the convention hall was devoted to Star Trek. There were a couple of lovely exhibitors/vendors, selling figurines, pictures, and drawings inspired by the show, and we had a lovely conversation about the franchise, and the new series airing next year.

Where France distances themselves from Star Trek, they make up for incredibly with Star Wars. There were more toys, t-shirts, and merchandise for that franchise than for anything else and, judging by the number of cosplayers dressed as Jedi and Sith, it was obvious how beloved that franchise is here in France.

After touring the perimeter, speaking with exhibitors, including one man who has been slowly making an Iron Man outfit for himself, Juliette and I found a spot to listen to the Questions and Answers for/from special guest Julian Glover.

Now, you may not know him by name, but you've likely seen him before. As you can see in the picture above, he has covered a lot of ground in sci-fi/fantasy cinema, starring in Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Game of Thrones, and more! I was excited to learn more about him and his career!

I was not disappointed. Julian Glover has a sharp, dry sense of humour and a marvelous appreciation and memory for his work. I've seen many celebrities speak before and sometimes, to my disappointment, they cannot remember much from their time in certain projects. I understand that a fan will be much more passionate than an actor, but sometimes it saddens me when an actor cannot remember the main details of some of their work.

However, Mr. Glover remembered his roles, and had interesting stories to tell. For example, he loved his time on Indiana Jones, praising Spielberg, Connery, and Ford, remarking that some of the dialogue between Ford and Connery was improvised. He really disliked his time filming the movie Troy, especially because it involved long days in the sun which gave him skin cancer. (From which he has, thankfully, recovered)

After his talk, there was a cosplay contest. Despite having amazing costumes bought or made by my lovely Juliette, I did not enter. I was happy to just watch and comment on the other costumes and didn't really want to be in the spotlight, as my French is not yet that fantastic. 

It was nice to see children and adults sharing their love and creativity for certain characters through their costumes. There was a Jack Sparrow, convincing for both his costume and mannerisms, there were several Reys, Kylo Rens, even some Ghostbusters and characters from Frozen. It was a small show, but with impressive costumes and commitment from the cosplayers.

Juliette and I entered into a Star Trek quiz and almost won! The guy who beat us won last year so we did not feel too defeated. The Star Trek exhibitors came over to encourage us, trying to inconspicuously signal the answers to us. It was fun!

On the second day, after seeing more of the same, Juliette and I went to meet Julian Glover. I had spoken with him the day before, finding him quite approachable in the one corner of the convention hall. He and I had spoken about his career, mine, and some of the oddities of the English language. Once, while I was passing his stand, he stopped me to make the joke/observation regarding the words raze and raise, which sound the same but have completely opposite meanings. It was nice, not only because I've made the same observation before, but because he continued the conversation without my provocation, and made me feel like he actually wanted to speak with me.

Celebrities receive a lot of attention, not all of it good, so while I understand their aloof or brisk attitude, it is a moment like this which makes me feel happy and connected to the actor and their work.

He was happy to see me again on the second day, more so because I brought Juliette with me. We spoke for some time again, bought some signed photos, and took a picture with him. Once again, he was charming, fun, and I was glad to have met him.

And that's about it! The SF-Connexion was a well-organized, well-attended convention, featuring passionate and friendly people willing to share their interests and creations. Juliette and I were very happy to go, and to be there together, and we're looking forward to going again next year!

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