News

March 15, 2018

Cinemas across America join together to promote science during National Evening of Science on Screen

Independent movie houses in 28 cities in 25 states will host programs pairing films with science speakers on March 27.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Coolidge Corner Theatre announce the fifth annual National Evening of Science on Screen®, to take place on Tuesday, March 28, 2017. Twenty-eight independent cinemas in 25 states will participate in the National Evening, each hosting a program pairing a scientific lecture with a screening of a feature or documentary film.

Their purpose? To celebrate using one of the nation’s favorite pastimes—going to the movies—to promote public understanding of science. 

The National Evening of Science on Screen is the annual showcase event of the nationwide Science on Screen grant initiative, which is funded by the Sloan Foundation and administered by the Coolidge. Grantee theaters run three or more Science on Screen events per year, creatively pairing screenings of classic, cult, science fiction, and documentary films with presentations by notable experts from the world of science and technology. One of the three screenings at each theater features a film that has been developed by or received a prize from the nationwide Sloan Film Program. Each film serves as a jumping-off point for the speaker to introduce current research or technological advances in a way that engages general audiences.

Over the past eight years, the Sloan Foundation and the Coolidge have awarded a total of 164 Science on Screen grants to 72 independent theaters nationwide, including 36 this year. (Participation in the National Evening is voluntary for each year’s grantees, not a requirement of the grant.)

"We're delighted to join once again with our wonderful friends at the Coolidge in celebrating a National Science on Screen evening in 28 cities across America,” said Doron Weber, Vice President and Program Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. "While recent Sloan awarded films such as Hidden Figures and Bombshell: They Hedy Lamarr Story brings us amazing tales of true scientific achievement, Science on Screen shows that the biggest hits—from this year’s Oscar-winning The Shape of Water to next year’s Oscar-winning Black Panther—can be the gateway to an exhilarating discussion of the role of science and technology in society.”

This year’s National Evening of Science on Screen movie-and-speaker pairings tackle topics from chaos theory to self-driving cars to the challenge of covering ski mountains with artificial snow. Some programs will offer pure gee-whiz fascination factor—like Salina Art Center’s (Salina, KS) screening of Jaws, where paleontologist Mike Everhart will introduce the ancient sharks that once swam above the fields of Kansas, and Colonial Theater’s (Phoenixville, PA) screening of Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs featuring best-selling author and canine cognition expert Alexandra Horowitz. Most of the programs will address pressing scientific and societal issues of our time. A few highlights:

  • Sexism in science. At Coolidge Corner Theatre (Brookline, MA), Old Greenbelt Theatre (Greenbelt, MD), Indiana University Cinema (Bloomington, IN), and FilmScene (Iowa City, IA) female scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs will accompany screenings of Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story with discussions about the legendary actress’s hidden technical genius and the barriers that still confront women in STEM fields today.
  • Sustainability of our food and water supplies. After a screening of the documentary Bugs at Cable Car Cinema (Providence, RI), a panel of experts will debate whether eating insects is the key to a sustainable food supply…and offer black ants and crickets for the audience to much in lieu of popcorn. Real Art Ways (Hartford, CT) will also address sustainable agriculture with a screening of Evolution of Organic, a documentary chronicling the rise of the organic farming movement, while at Amherst Cinema’s (Amherst, MA) screening of Chinatown, conservationist Anita Millman will ask how we can manage our limited water resources for a future made uncertain by climate change. 
  • The threat of nuclear war. The Honolulu Museum of Arts will present the pitch-black political satire Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb as an entryway to a candid discussion about the January 13 Hawaii missile scare and the threat of nuclear war in today’s political climate.

The panel at Austin Film Society’s (Austin, TX) screening of Bill Nye: Science Guy will discuss how to advance scientific literacy in a culture that is often resistant to science and scientific evidence. Though science-, technology-, engineering-, and math- (STEM) related occupations are becoming an increasingly large and well-paid portion of the U.S. labor force, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the United States lags behind many other developed nations in scientific literacy. According to the Nation’s Report Card, released by the U.S. Department of Education, only 22 percent of American high school seniors performed at or above the level of proficiency in a 2015 test of science literacy. And results from the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which tested the scientific literacy of 15-year-olds around the world, ranked the U.S. 24th out of 71 countries, behind Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Germany, and many others.

Per the Motion Picture Association of America’s most recent Theatrical Market Statistics Report, 71 percent of U.S. and Canadian citizens over age two—some 246 million people—attended a movie in 2016, purchasing an average of 5.3 tickets over the course of that year. Science on Screen and the National Evening aim to inspire in America’s many movie-lovers an increased appreciation for STEM topics by sharing with them the excitement of discovery and scientific enlightenment along with their popcorn.

The 28 cinemas participating in the 2018 National Evening of Science on Screen are: 

  • Amherst Cinema, Amherst, MA 
  • Athena Cinema, Athens, OH
  • Austin Film Society, Austin, TX
  • Belcourt Theatre, Nashville, TN
  • Bozeman Film Society, Bozeman, MT
  • Cable Car Cinema, Providence, RI
  • California Film Institute/San Rafael Film Center, San Rafael, CA
  • Cameo Cinema, St. Helena, CA
  • Colonial Theatre, Phoenixville, PA
  • Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline, MA
  • Egyptian Theatre, Coos Bay, OR
  • Enzian Theater, Maitland, FL
  • FilmScene, Iowa City, IA
  • Film Society of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minneapolis, MN
  • Film Streams, Inc., Omaha, NE
  • Friends of the Juneau Public Libraries/Juneau Public Libraries/Gold Town Theater, Juneau, AK
  • Gold Coast Arts Center, Great Neck, NY
  • Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, HI
  • Indiana University Cinema, Bloomington, IN
  • Loft Cinema, Tucson, AZ
  • Martha’s Vineyard Film Society, Vineyard Haven, MA
  • Montclair Film, Montclair, NJ
  • Old Greenbelt Theatre, Greenbelt, MD
  • Pickford Film Center, Bellingham, WA
  • Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT
  • Salina Art Center, Salina, KS
  • Shotgun Cinema, New Orleans, LA
  • The Gem, Bethel, ME

For a complete list of Science on Screen events taking place on March 27, please see the program list below, or visit scienceonscreen.org/national-evening/2018.      

About the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

The New York-based Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, founded in 1934, is a non-profit philanthropy that makes grants for original research and education in science, technology, and economic performance. Sloan's program in Public Understanding of Science and Technology, directed by Doron Weber, supports books, radio, film, television, theater and new media to reach a wide, non-specialized audience and to bridge the two cultures of science and the humanities.

Sloan's Film Program encourages filmmakers to create more realistic and compelling stories about science and technology and to challenge existing stereotypes about scientists and engineers in the popular imagination. Over the past two decades, Sloan has partnered with some of the top film schools in the country - including AFI, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, NYU, UCLA and USC - and established annual awards in screenwriting and film production, along with an annual best-of-the best Student Grand Jury Prize administered by the Tribeca Film Institute. The Foundation also supports screenplay development programs with the Sundance Institute, Tribeca Film Institute, the San Francisco Film Society, the Black List, and Film Independent’s Producing Lab and Fast Track program and has helped develop such film projects as Shawn Snyder’s To Dust and Ginny Mohler and Lydia Pilcher’s Radium Girls, premiering at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, Matthew Brown’s The Man Who Knew Infinity, and Michael Almereyda’s Experimenter. The Foundation has also supported theatrical documentaries such as the recently released Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr StoryParticle Fever, and Jacques Perrin’s Oceans.

The Foundation has an active theater program and commissions about twenty science plays each year from the Ensemble Studio Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, and the National Theatre, as well as supporting select productions across the country and abroad. Recent grants have supported Lucy Kirkwood’s Mosquitoes, recently at the National Theatre in London, Nick Payne’s Constellations, Lucas Hnath’s Isaac’s Eye, and Anna Ziegler’s Photograph 51. The Foundation’s book program includes early support for Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, the highest grossing Oscar-nominated film of 2017 and the recipient of the Sloan Science in Cinema Prize at the San Francisco Film Society in December 2016.

For more information about the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, visit www.sloan.org

About the Coolidge Corner Theatre 

Widely regarded as one of New England’s most treasured landmarks, the Coolidge Corner Theatre was established in 1933 as a modern Art Deco picture palace, and has long been a favored destination for movie lovers across generations, as well as a community gathering place. The Coolidge operates as a nonprofit organization with the mission of building community through film culture, and is a leading cultural institution in Brookline and Greater Boston.

In addition to showcasing the best in American and international art house film, the Coolidge offers an array of original signature programs including: Science on Screen®, the prestigious Coolidge Award, The Sounds of Silents®, Coolidge After Midnite, Big Screen Classics, Cinema Jukebox®, weekend matinee Kids’ Shows, and broadcasts from London’s National Theatre and internationally renowned dance and opera companies. The Theatre also hosts visiting filmmakers, several prominent film festivals, and screenings of local work and film workshops. The Coolidge has won numerous awards and recognition for creative and innovative programming.

For more information about the Coolidge Corner Theatre, visit coolidge.org


NATIONAL EVENING OF SCIENCE ON SCREEN — Tuesday, March 27, 2018

PROGRAMS BY CINEMA

Show times vary.

Amherst Cinema • Amherst, MA  amherstcinema.org
Chinatown (1974) ­— A private detective hired to expose an adulterer finds himself caught up in a web of deceit, corruption, and murder. Dr. Anita Milman, associate professor of environmental conservation at University of Massachusetts Amherst, will discuss how we can manage our water resources for a future made uncertain by climate change by examining how water has historically been shared and competed for in times of abundance and scarcity.

Athena Cinema • Athens, OH  athenacinema.com
Film and speaker to be announced.

Austin Film Society • Austin, TX  austinfilm.org
Bill Nye: Science Guy (2017) — In this new documentary, famed television “science guy” Bill Nye attempts to restore science to its rightful place in a world that is hostile to evidence and reason. At the screening, a panel of experts on science education will discuss the specific messaging concerns that confront them in today’s fragmented and science-resistant culture.

Belcourt Theatre • Nashville, TN  belcourt.org
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) — In this film, considered by many to be the greatest sci-fi movie of all time, an alien lands on Earth and tells the people of our world that they must live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets. Dr. Steven Howell, head of the Space Sciences and Astrobiology Division at NASA Ames Research Center, will consider modern humanity through the eyes of the first extraterrestrial visitors and speaks about the current search for life beyond Earth.

Bozeman Film Society • Bozeman, MT  bozemanfilmsociety.org
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai across the 8th Dimension (1984) — Adventurer/surgeon/rock musician Buckaroo Banzai and his band of men, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, take on evil alien invaders from the eighth dimension in this sci-fi cult classic. Acclaimed science writer and Buckaroo Banzai−fan David Quammen will join his nieces for a lively discussion about the film and its science.

Cable Car Cinema • Providence, RI  cablecarcinema.com
Bugs (2016) — Will eating insects save our Earth? In this documentary, a chef and a food lab researcher go globe-trotting to investigate edible insects and their promise as a solution to world’s food supply woes. At this screening, a panel of speakers from the food and farming industries, including Jesse Rye of Farm Fresh Rhode Island, will discuss the future of sustainable eating and insects' place in it, while audience members sample crickets and black ants to reach their own conclusions.

California Film Institute/Smith Rafael Film Center • San Rafael, CA  cafilm.org
The Female Brain (2018) — This inventive comical adaptation of the bestselling science book of the same name chronicles how a female scientist’s studies into the differences between the male and female brain dictate how she lives her life. Author Louann Brizendine, professor of clinical psychology at the University of California, San Francisco, will discuss her book and its imaginative and unconventional movie adaptation.

Cameo Cinema • St. Helena, CA  cameocinema.com
Jane (2017) — Drawing on more than 100 hours of unseen archival footage, this documentary examines Jane Goodall, a young and untrained woman who challenged male-dominated scientific consensus with her chimpanzee research and revolutionized people's understanding of the natural world. Gorilla expert Dr. Kelly Stewart Harcourt, longtime research associate of Dian Fossey, will explain why she and her fellow primatologists are drawn to study apes—and what they've learned from them.

Colonial Theatre • Phoenixville, PA  thecolonialtheatre.com
Isle of Dogs (2018) — In this stop-motion-animated adventure, an outbreak of canine flu leads the mayor of a Japanese city to banish all dogs to an island garbage dump. When a boy arrives on the island to find his beloved pet, the outcasts embark on an epic journey. Canine-cognition expert Dr. Alexandra Horowitz, principal investigator of the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College/Columbia University and author of the bestseller Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know, will take the inside the brain of humankind's best animal friend.

Coolidge Corner Theatre • Brookline, MA  coolidge.org
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (2017) — This documentary reveals the Hedy Lamarr hidden behind the famously beautiful Hollywood star's glamorous image: a technological trailblazer whose inventions form the basis of modern WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth systems. MIT Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Muriel Médard, who teaches about Lamarr in her classes and whose research involves Lamarr’s technology, will explain and celebrate the film star’s monumental work in science and technology.

Egyptian Theatre • Coos Bay, OR  egyptiantheatreoregon.com
Dante’s Peak (1997) — A vulcanologist arrives at a countryside town named Dante's Peak, which has recently been named the second most desirable place to live in America, and discovers that long-dormant volcano Dante's Peak may wake up at any moment. Oregon's Cascadia subduction zone is indeed a geologic hotspot, triggering earthquakes, tsunamis, and—yes!—volcanoes. As part of this screening, Southwestern Oregon Community College Professor of Geology Ron Metzger reveals whether the science behind the eco-thriller is also the real deal.

Enzian Theater • Maitland, FL  enzian.org
The Black Hole (1970) — A research vessel returning to Earth finds a missing spaceship, commanded by a mysterious scientist, on the edge of a black hole—and determined to enter it. At this screening, science historian Dr. Matthew Shindell, the curator of the National Air and Space Museum’s Planetary Science and Exploration collection, will discusses the history of space exploration and the equipment mankind has relied on to take us to the stars.

FilmScene • Iowa City, IA  icfilmscene.org
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (2017) — This documentary reveals the Hedy Lamarr hidden behind the famously beautiful Hollywood star's glamorous image: a technological trailblazer whose inventions form the basis of modern WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth systems. At this screening, three female engineers and entrepreneurs from the University of Iowa—Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Ananya Sen Gupta, Associate Professor of Biomedial Engineering Sarah Vigmostad, and Michal Eynon-Lynch, co-founder of the education technology company Pear Deck—will converse about their triumphs and struggles as women excelling in the male-dominated worlds of science and technology.

Film Society of Minneapolis/St. Paul • Minneapolis, MN  mspfilm.org
The Shining (1980) — When an aspiring writer takes an off-season caretaking position at an isolated hotel with a horrific past, an evil presence slowly drives him insane, putting his wife and psychic son in terrible danger. During this educational evening of terror, an expert will explain what the feeling of fear is, what triggers it, and why so many of us seek it out in horror movies.

Film Streams, Inc. • Omaha, NE  filmstreams.org
Marjorie Prime (2017) — In the near future, 86-year-old Marjorie has a new companion to help combat her advancing senility—an artificial intelligence who looks like her deceased husband and is programmed to feed the story of her life back to her. The film will be followed by a talk led by scientists from the Interprofessional Experiential Center for Enduring Learning, a visionary program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center focused on improving the outcomes of care through experiential learning and new technologies—including augmented and virtual reality.

Friends of the Juneau Public Libraries / Juneau Public Libraries / Gold Town Nickelodeon • Juneau, AK  goldtownnick.com
Film and speaker to be announced.

Gold Coast Arts Center • Great Neck, NY  goldcoastarts.org
How to Build a Time Machine (2016) — In this documentary, two men pursue lifelong fantasies of time travel in very different ways, both inspired by H.G. Wells' classic novel The Time Machine. At the screening, film subjects Ronald Mallett, research professor of physics at the University of Connecticut, and Rob Niosi, a film director and animator, discuss with director Jay Cheel their individual approaches to making time machines a reality.

Honolulu Museum of Art Honolulu, HI  honolulumuseum.org
Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) — In Stanley Kubrick’s indelible satire, an insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of politicians and generals frantically try to stop. Before the screening, experts discuss the all-too-real 2018 Hawaii missile scare and current threats of nuclear war.

Indiana University Cinema • Bloomington, IN  cinema.indiana.edu
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (2017) — This documentary reveals the Hedy Lamarr hidden behind the famously beautiful Hollywood star's glamorous image: a technological trailblazer whose inventions form the basis of modern WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth systems. After the screening, Indiana University First Lady Laurie Burns McRobbie, advisory council chair for the University’s Center of Excellence for Women in Technology, will lead a panel discussion about promise and challenges of women in STEM fields with representatives from IU’s Center of Excellence for Women in Technology, Women in STEM Living-Learning Center, and Office of Science Outreach.

The Loft Cinema • Tucson, AZ  loftcinema.org
Interstellar (2014) — As global crop failures and a second Dust Bowl slowly render the planet uninhabitable, a team of explorers travel through a wormhole in space in an attempt to ensure humanity's survival. Theoretical astrophysicist Dr. Feryal Özel of the University of Arizona, recently featured in NOVA’s “Black Hole Apocalypse” on PBS, discusses space travel, black holes, and the future of humankind in space.

Martha’s Vineyard Film Society • Vineyard Haven, MA  mvfilmsociety.com
Dawson City: Frozen Time (2017) — This documentary explores a massive cache of rare silent films unearthed by a bulldozer in 1978 from the permafrost beneath a busted Gold Rush boom town. Speaker Robert Max Holmes, senior research fellow at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution will explain the precarious state of the world's permafrost—and what it might mean for climate change if the carbon frozen in it is released.

Montclair Film • Montclair, NJ  montclairfilm.org
eXistenZ (1999) — A game designer on the run from assassins must play her latest virtual reality creation—implanted in the body of a marketing trainee—to determine whether the game has been damaged. At this event, gambling addiction expert Lia Nower, professor and director of the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers University, reveals how gaming systems strategically designed to keep us playing impact our brain function, our behavior, and our relationships—and explores the potential real-world consequences of increasingly immersive gaming.

Old Greenbelt Theatre • Greenbelt, MD  greenbelttheatre.org
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (2017) — This documentary reveals the Hedy Lamarr hidden behind the famously beautiful Hollywood star's glamorous image: a technological trailblazer whose inventions form the basis of modern WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth systems. Program details to be announced.

Pickford Film Center • Bellingham, WA  pickfordfilmcenter.org
Ex Machina (2015) — A young programmer is selected to participate in a ground-breaking experiment in synthetic intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breath-taking humanoid A.I. At this screening, Western Washington University Professor of Psychology Ira Hyman examines how we define and identify consciousness in the age of the self-driving car.

Real Art Ways • Hartford, CT  realartways.org
Evolution of Organic (2016) — This documentary recounts the history of organic agriculture, told by the people who began and built the movement. Program details to come.

Salina Art Center • Salina, KS  salinaartcenter.org
Jaws (1975) — When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist, and grizzled fisherman set out to stop it. Unlike Amity, Kansas is not known for its shark-bite risk today. But 100 million years ago, submerged below the Western Interior Sea, it teemed with sea animals, including several species of sharks. Paleontologist Mike Everhart will introduce the sharks of Kansas through the fossils they left behind.

Shotgun Cinema • New Orleans, LA  shotguncinema.org
Primer (2005) — Two friends invent a form of time travel, and though they think they are being smart about using it, within just five days, selfishness and shortsightedness lead them to create so many overlapping timelines that they lose control of themselves, their friendship, and the technology. The screening will be followed by an introduction to the mind-bending concepts of chaos theory by quantum physics expert Dr. Lev Kaplan, chair of the Department of Physics and Engineering Physics at Tulane University.

The Gem • Bethel, ME  thegemtheater.com
Fitzcarraldo (1982) — Would-be rubber baron Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, an Irishman known in Peru as Fitzcarraldo, is determined to transport a steamship over mountainous land between one Amazonian river to another to further his obsession with bringing opera to the jungle. Glacial geologist Dr. P. Thompson, professor of natural and applied sciences at Bentley University, will discuss the science of snow and snow-making, and the yearly man-against-nature effort to ensure that Maine's ski mountains are blanketed with snow.