December 01, 2023

40 Independent Cinemas Win Grants to Bring Science to the Movies

Nationwide Science on Screen® initiative promotes scientific literacy through entertainment.

Brookline, MA (October 4, 2023) — Coolidge Corner Theatre and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation named the 2023−24 recipients of their nationwide Science on Screen® grant program this week, awarding grants totaling $245,000 to 40 independent cinemas, museums, and community groups with film programs. Each organization will receive up to $8,500 to create and present three or more Science on Screen events, which pair expert-led discussions of scientific topics with screenings of feature and documentary films. At least one of the films shown by grantees must be a past recipient of the annual Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize or a Sloan Development Grant.

Since partnering with Sloan in 2011, the Coolidge has awarded over $2.5 million in grants to 119 film and science-focused organizations in 44 states (plus Washington, DC) across the country.

Science on Screen features classic, cult, and documentary films provocatively matched with presentations by experts who discuss scientific, technological, or medical issues raised by each film. The Coolidge/Sloan Foundation nationwide Science on Screen partnership seeks to inspire in theater-goers an increased appreciation for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics as compelling enterprises and vital elements of a broad understanding of human culture and current events.

Over the past 12 seasons, grantees have sold more than 165,000 tickets to over 1,300 Science on Screen events (including free tickets offered by many grantees to their Science on Screen series). Those events have featured presentations by hundreds of scientists, doctors, teachers & professors, farmers, journalists, and more, including at least five Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners, ten astronauts, and other luminaries including autism activist Temple Grandin; outed CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson; surgeon and writer Dr. Atul Gawande; environmentalist Bill McKibben; geneticist George Church; and former Twitter chief media scientist Deb Roy.

Highlights from the most recent season include:

  • The Coolidge Corner Theater (Brookline, Mass.) presented a free outdoor 35mm screening of It Came From Outer Space, a 1950s B-movie classic—co-written by Ray Bradbury—with a provocative message about xenophobia. Before the film, science and technology writer Wade Roush (Extraterrestrials) discussed one of the great unsolved problems in science: is there life, intelligent or otherwise, on other planets?
  • The Gene Siskel Film Center (Chicago, Ill.) paired Ikiru with a talk entitled “C’mon, get Happy: Kurosawa and The Power of Joy.” Akira Kurosawa’s humanistic masterpiece was introduced by Judith T. Moskowitz, PhD, MPH Professor of Medical Social Sciences and Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, who was recently featured in The New York Times piece “A Positive Outlook May Be Good for Your Health.”
  • OxFilm (Oxford, Miss.) screened the documentary Below the Belt, followed by a panel In a discussion entitled “Equity in Women's Health”. Panelists discuss the myriad medical, educational and societal barriers that many women experience in accessing quality healthcare and how those barriers disproportionately affect women of color and undeserved populations. Panelists included Dr. Thomas Dobbs, Dean of the John D. Bower School of Population Health, University of Mississippi Medical Center; Dr. Julie Harper, OBGYN, Oxford, MS; and Dr. Erica Balthrop, OBGYN, Clarksdale, MS.
  • At The County Theater (Doylestown, Penn.), Kevin Zhang, Carnivorous Plant Expert, presented a talk entitled “These Plants Bite: The Strange World of Carnivorous Plants,” before a screening of Little Shop of Horrors.
  • At The Block Museum of Art (Evanston, Ill.) Roger Corman’s visionary sci-fi classic X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963) was paired with an introduction by Dr. Catherine Belling, Associate Professor of Medical Education at Northwestern University. Dr. Belling's research explores the ways that horror films reflect widely-held fears and uncertainties about our bodies and about the medical profession.
  • Amherst Cinema (Amherst, Mass.) paired M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable with a talk (“The Science of Superheroes: Lessons on breaking the body to build a super body”) by Smith College biological sciences and neurosciences Prof. Michael J. Barresi.

“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with the Coolidge Corner Theatre to support the nationwide Science on Screen program,” said Doron Weber, Vice President and Program Director at the Sloan Foundation. "These events, which pair expert speakers in 40+ states with popular titles such as Sloan-winning films Hidden Figures, The Pod Generation and BlackBerry, demonstrate that science can illuminate films just as films can illuminate science. We’re also proud that theaters are selecting recent Sloan-supported documentaries such as Vishniac, Join or Die, and Theater of Thought and bringing attention to urgent contemporary issues.”

Science on Screen was initially conceived and established in 2005 for Coolidge Corner Theatre audiences in greater Boston, which boasts one of the nation’s largest populations of life and physical scientists. In 2011, the Sloan Foundation partnered with the theatre to take Science on Screen nationwide and to make it an integral part of its coast-to-coast film program. To date, the Sloan Foundation has awarded the Coolidge more than $4 million to support the program, including the creation of a website ( where information on these programs and archived videos of the speakers’ presentations are available to the public.

Science on Screen grant recipients are chosen based on the need for science-related programming in their community, the strength of their proposed Science on Screen programs, the success of past Science on Screen programs (for returning grantees), and their location.

All of these grant recipients—which span 44 states from coast to coast—play a significant role in the cultural life of their communities, with successful track records of building strong community partnerships and producing creative, thought-provoking film programs that both educate and entertain audiences.

The 2023−24 Science on Screen grantees include 12 first-time participants:

  • American Cinematheque, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Aspen Film, Aspen, Colo.
  • The Avalon Theatre, Washington, D.C.
  • The Buskirk-Chumley Theatre, Bloomington, Ind.
  • Cornell Cinema, Ithaca, N.Y.
  • Film Forum, New York, N.Y.
  • Heartland Film, Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre, Moscow, Id.
  • Mesilla Valley Film Society, Mesilla, N.Mex.
  • New Orleans Film Society, New Orleans, La.
  • The Nightlight Cinema, Akron, Oh.
  • Sioux Falls State Theatre, Sioux Falls, S.D.

Grantees returning to Science on Screen in 2023−24 are:

  • Amherst Cinema, Amherst, Mass.
  • Austin Film Society, Austin, Texas
  • Belcourt Theatre, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Block Museum of Art (Northwestern University), Evanston, Ill.
  • California Film Institute, San Rafael, Calif.
  • Cameo Cinema, St. Helena, Calif.
  • Cinema Arts Centre, Huntington, N.Y.
  • County Theater, Doylestown, Penn.
  • Des Moines Film / Varsity Cinema, Des Moines, Iowa
  • Enzian Theater, Maitland, Fla.
  • Film Streams, Omaha, Neb.
  • FilmScene, Iowa City, Iowa
  • Frida Cinema, Santa Ana, Calif.
  • Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, Ill.
  • Images Cinema, Williamstown, Mass.
  • Lawrence Arts Center, Lawrence, Kan.
  • Maine Film Center, Waterville, Me.
  • Martha’s Vineyard Film Society, Vineyard Haven, Mass.
  • Milwaukee Film, Milwaukee, Wis.
  • Montclair Film, Montclair, N.J.
  • Museum of Discovery and Science, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  • New York International Children’s Film Festival, New York, N.Y.
  • OxFilm, Oxford, Miss.
  • Ragtag Cinema, Columbia, Mo.
  • Real Art Ways, Hartford, Conn.
  • Rooftop Films, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Science Moab, Moab, Ut.
  • Taos Center for the Arts, Taos, N.M.