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Dead Channels - the San Francisco Festival of Fantastic Film

Z.P.G. (Zero Population Growth)

Directed by Michael Campus
Cast: Oliver Reed, Geraldine Chaplin, Don Gordon, Diane Cilento
United Kingdom, 1972, 105 minutes

Sunday, August 12 - 12:30pm at Roxie Film Center

Thursday, August 16 - 5:15pm at Roxie Film Center

Z.P.G. (Zero Population Growth) is one of those great old-fashioned dystopian science-fiction head-trips that used to fuel the pre-Star Wars popular imagination. There was a time when popular culture thought that downbeat was okay and the good guys didn't always have to win. Movies like Rollerball, Soylent Green, Future Shock, Fahrenheit 451, The Man who Fell to Earth, Wild in the Streets, Zardoz, Logan's Run, No Blade of Grass, The Omega Man, Silent Running and the entire Planet of the Apes series were the norm, not the exception. However, Z.P.G. was quite obscure even when it was released; it played regional television stations late at night for a couple of years, and basically disappeared for the last 30 years. Alfonso Cuaron's strikingly similar Children of Men (and our life-long admiration of Oliver Reed) drove us to track down a film print of Michael (The Mack) Campus' debut feature - just so we can see it again ourselves.

In the near future, the world is dying: everyone wears gas masks to deal with the extreme pollution, food is strictly rationed, the animals are dead or dying, and museums are instructional tools designed to show how the gluttony and waste of modern society destroyed the earth. To stem the rampant overpopulation, the one-world totalitarian government creates a new law that forbids child-bearing for 30-years. Those who want children are allowed to buy robot babies at the Babyshop. Oliver Reed and Geraldine Chaplin are Russ and Carol McNeil, a couple who decide to break the law and give birth to the child they accidentally conceived.

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