The Science-Fiction Film Festival was the first international cinema event to be organized in the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. Founded in 1963 by a group of journalists, critics, authors and film professionals who had previously worked for the Venice Film Festival and many local newspapers, the yearly event was held in the Castle of San Giusto, at that time the center of Trieste cultural life and well renown for its stage shows and opera performances. In the month of July, for 8 or 9 nights the Piazzale delle Milizie (Square of the Troops) of the Castle was converted into a big open-air venue with a gigantic screen and more than one thousand seats.

The Science-Fiction Festival of the time was awarding the Golden Asteroid – originally named Golden Spacecraft, and created first by sculptor Marcello Mascherini and then by Nino Perizi – to the best feature-length film, and the Golden Seal of the city of Trieste to the best short film, documentary or animated film. In its twenty editions, the Festival shaped a program that was mixing – not entirely consciously – “high” and “low” cinema and presented to its audience films that, though not to be counted among the masterpieces of the genre, were undoubtedly examples of original, innovative and heterogeneous productions coming from all over the world.
The collateral events of the Festival were by no means less important, and they included book and journal exhibitions, art shows, round tables and press conferences held by literature and cinema experts of the genre. Among the others, it is worth mentioning writers Brian Aldiss, James Blish, John Brummer, Arthur C. Clarke, Harry Harrison, Frederik Pohl; essayists Kingsley Amis, Jacques Bergier, Umberto Eco, and Goffredo Fofi; and directors Alessandro Blasetti, Roger Corman, Riccardo Freda, Antonio Margheriti, Mario Soldati, Bertrand Tavernier.

In 1982 the Festival came abruptly to an end, and the causes are still much debated among audience and professionals.