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Film Review: Future '38
by Karen Pecota

Filmmaker and veteran in the entertainment industry, Jamie Greenberg, has many credits to his accomplishments, such as, a recipient of two outstanding Emmy Award nominations for a daytime PBS children's TV series using time travel to teach children geography in "Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?" Greenberg brings back the time-travel theme with his latest feature Sci-Fi Comedy in FUTURE '38.

The beloved screenwriter, film director and renown comedian, pays homage to the golden age of cinema that blazed the trail of the early technicolor era. Greenberg celebrates and examines the past techniques of cinema to look at our modern world but through the lens of the 1930s’ camera.

Greenberg shares his enthusiasm of the early technicolor cinema by wearing bright colorful suits in yellow, purple, red, etc., to advertise FUTURE '38 wherever he is seen in Park City. People take notice and feel Greenberg's happy place when he talks about his Sci-Fi Comedy. His creative and humorous spirit entices a curious film audience at Slamdance Film Festival 2017. Not surprisingly, all screenings of FUTURE '38 held a packed house and then made sense when the Slamdance Film Festival 2017 award ceremony presented Greenberg with the Audience Award trophy.


Similar to films made in the 1930s and 1940s, often there is to be a Monologue introduction of what the audience is going to view along with an interesting musical score accompaniment.

FUTURE '38 begins in this fashion.The film opens with the famous, Neil deGrasse Tyson, an American astrophysicist, author, and science communicator, explaining to the film audience that they will view a forgotten film made in 1938 visible in the early technicolor (similar to the era of Gone with Wind, or the Wizard of Oz films).

Tyson continues to share the film’s premise, stating while that recently unearthed in a Hollywood vault there was archival film footage of a time-travel narrative made in 1938, for the year 2018, known as FUTURE '38.

The camera fades to black and our hero Essex (Nick Westrate) appears. Essex, an American agent receives his orders to save civilization by traveling eighty years into the future to the year 2018. This important secret mission to save all of humanity isn't so simple because Essex is asked to assess the future, year 2018 looking through the lens of his current existence in the year 1938.

Essex's delightful happy character, using all his wacky lingo and antidotes of the 1930s, attempts to understand and relate to a different world while trying to save it. Transported to the year 2018, in a make-shift time machine, Essex lands in a strange world of silvery skyscrapers, machines that connect one another as well as working women.

Our hero Essex only has twelve hours to retrieve the “formica ice-a-tope” because “the ice-a-tope” is going to power a bomb which is needed to save the world. The “ice-a-tope,” newly invented in 1938, needs eighty-years to reach maximum power, so it is locked it into a vault for the eight decades. In the meantime, time-travel is invented and is ready to send their heroic agent into the future to retrieve the ice-a-tope to save the world from the likes of Adolf Hitler. The catch is that Essex must accomplish his mission within a twelve-hour timeframe.

Essex first has to locate the vault that houses the revered chemical and, while retrieving the ice-a-tope, he meets the love of his life, Banky (Betty Gilpin). He's smitten with the love-bug! Their wild and wacky, whirlwind romance causes Essex to doubt his mission. It's only hours left before the time-travel portal will open and whisk him back to 1938. He is faced with the greatest dilemma of his existence. Essex must choose to return without his eighty-year younger true love and save the world; or, stay with his beautiful dish and change the course of history forever.