Steampunk Connection (2019) [Fantasia Festival 2019]

Director Annie Deniel’s “Steampunk Connection” will likely be admired in the same vein as “Trekkies,” in that it examines a strong fan movement that allows people to connect through a broad scope of science fiction. It’s also been integrated in to their everyday lives and for many of them, the art form of Steampunk has allowed them to grow as people, and realize their potential in mediums like mechanics, engineering, and fashion. If there is anything that may push audiences away is that director Deniel digs so deep in to the following that it’s almost too niche for a broader audience.

“Steampunk Connection” examines the finer points of the Steampunk movement and how it’s managed to build a global community (filmed over the course of three years, the documentary spans Canada, USA, Luxembourg, Austria and France) of millions of people that love the aesthetic and have made it a lifestyle. Mixing the Industrial Revolution, the Victorian style, and the influences of works from Jules Vernes and HG Well, “Steampunk” has been a following that’s gone strong for over thirty years. Director Annie Deniel covers a large array of topics in such a small time and explores how steampunk has changed the lives of various people.

Deniel features an inventor, a stylist, a gadget maker, and a massive community of roleplayers that have committed to an epic narrative involving aliens that includes costumes, environments, and massive gatherings. Annie Deniel meditates on the idea of steampunk and creates a dialogue about its appeal and why so many fans are rabid for it. The sense of wonder and awe is basically what attracts people to it, as well as the idea of allowing people to use machines and old world technology to build their own identities. The people that Deniel visits with are unique and creative individuals, all of whom have committed to keeping the steampunk movement alive, and the following even may become enticing to some viewers.

There’s a definite specificity that makes steampunk so much fun in that it’s tough to stereotype, and easy to fall in love with. One of the most fascinating subjects is the French inventor who attends conventions promoting his various steampunk gadgets, and takes to the boardwalk in his city toying around with a miniature robotic spider that draws the attention of passersby. If I do have a complaint is that “Steampunk Connection” delves so deep, Deniel gets so specific that the documentary loses momentum in the final twenty minutes and gets pretty dull. That said, “Steampunk Connection” is a great ode to the Steampunk fandom that celebrates the innovation and wonder behind it.

Fantasia International Film Festival runs from July 11th to August 1st 2019