The Review/Short Read/

Trek Talks

How a sci-fi franchise has helped shape the world in which we live

by Keith Bennie Theresa Scandiffio
Sep 26, 2016

October 12 - November 7, 2016

Writer and producer Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek at a time of great uncertainty. In the midst of domestic and international turmoil of the late 1960s — the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Cold War — Roddenberry and his collaborators, including writers D.C. Fontana and Gene L. Coon, conceived of a future where enhanced technologies, progressive values, and more tolerant and equitable social structures would offer viewers hopeful models of diversity and cooperation. The 23rd-century adventures of the starship Enterprise took a diverse crew on a mission of exploration and discovery to the farthest reaches of space and time, where they encountered other beings whose issues, problems and prejudices reflected pressing contemporary questions.

Harnessing the speculative, forward-thinking strengths of the science-fiction genre to an optimistic portrait of intergalactic diplomacy and interspecies understanding, the series resonated powerfully with viewers who found in its utopian vision something that contemporary society could not always offer them. After the cancellation of the show in 1969, fan enthusiasm kept the Trek universe a going concern. And as that universe gradually expanded over the course of five decades to encompass 13 feature films, over 700 television episodes, and countless ancillary properties, so too did the reach and impact of the series’ core ideals — those of progress, tolerance, technological innovation and social equity.

Presented in partnership with CBS and the Canadian Space Agency, TIFF’s Trek Talks feature roundtable discussions and keynote presentations that consider the influence of Star Trek in the areas of television, film, technology, space exploration, education, politics and social justice. In a world that is, in many ways, as dark and chaotic as that in which the series was originally created — a world where global turmoil and discontent has direly affected our peoples, our environment, and our very future — the optimism and idealism of Star Trek seems more relevant, and necessary, than ever. In exploring the cultural impact of Star Trek as an art form, an industry, a change agent, and as a vision of a viable future, we celebrate the ways in which science and the arts can unite, and how this moving-image franchise educates, inspires and, for many, transforms their view of the world (and the universe).

See the Trek Talks lineup


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