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The Spark: 2001, artificial intelligence and the future of humanity

Dr. Anders Sandberg knows a few things about artificial intelligence. Having earned a Ph.D in computational neuroscience, he now works at Oxford’s not-so-humbly named Future of Humanity Institute, researching existential risk and human enhancement. But while still a teen in Sweden, Sandberg saw Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey on television, and was “hooked”. [...]

Reel Science: Planet of the Apes

“A planet where apes evolved from men?”—Charlton Heston’s character wonders whether this is possible in the original 1968 Planet of the Apes. Turns out Heston’s query, and the entire scientific hypothesis on which the Apes moves rests, is bogus. But that doesn’t mean the Planet of the Apes franchise doesn’t raise some fascinating questions about [...]

Panic in Year Zero #5: Cheese and Crust Almighty

As It Is in Heaven, the debut film by writer/director Joshua Overbay that’s currently self-distributing around the country, is in every way a sensitive and expertly executed art-indie in the Martha Marcy May Marlene mold. It’s lyrical and ominous and observational in ways that are sharply engaged with American subculture. It’s also about a doomsday [...]

Reel Science: Snowpiercer‘s Perpetual Motion Machine

Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho’s new futuristic thriller, Snowpiercer, engages with at least two controversial propositions in science. Set in the year 2031, the film imagines a planet where scientists have injected a “cooling substance” into the atmosphere to stem the tide of global warming. Though much debated, the practice is currently being developed; so-called “geo-engineering” [...]

Don’t Miss: 2001 at Museum of the Moving Image

2001: A Space Odyssey. 70mm. Museum of the Moving Image. 7/5 – 3:00PM. 7/6 – 6:30PM.  Get tickets.

Small Screen: COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey

In 1980, on televisions eagerly tuned to PBS all over the country, Carl Sagan stood on a windy cliff overlooking the sea and stepped forward as the camera slowly approached. “The cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be,” he intoned, a lone man on the shores of a cosmic ocean [...]

The Spark: The King’s Pawn

In 1997, world chess champ Gary Kasparov went head-to-head with the computer Deep Blue in a much-discussed match. Kasparov lost, leading to a flurry of discussion surrounding the possibilities of computer intelligence. Jonah Bleicher’s 2012 Sloan Production Award-winning short film The King’s Pawn presents a fictionalized version of a similar matchup. A former chess master, Martin, [...]

Reel Science: Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow has been called “Groundhog Day Goes Sci-Fi.” This latest Tom Cruise vehicle imagines the actor as a reluctant super-soldier of the future who repeats the same day over and over again, not unlike Bill Murray’s sour-faced weatherman in the 1993 comedy. And while the stakes here are a bit higher—global apocalypse rather [...]

Winning The Imitation Game

Alan Turing was a WWII-era British mathematician, cryptologist and early computer scientist charged with cracking the Germans’ famed and feared ENGIMA code, a successful effort which led directly to several Allied victories over the Nazis. This period in Turing’s life will be captured in the upcoming Sloan-supported feature film, The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch [...]

Sloan-Supported Student Feature Film Druid Peak Wins at Festivals

Marni Zelnick’s debut feature, Druid Peak, which received the $100,000 first feature film prize through Sloan’s program at NYU, has been making rounds and winning awards at festivals around the country. After premiering at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival in September 2014, where the film was a finalist in the Best Theatrical category, Druid [...]

See it Big! Science Fiction (Part 2)

Science fiction is the most spectacular of film genres, immersing us in fully imagined futuristic worlds. The See It Big! sci-fi series concludes in spectacular fashion with ultra-rare 70mm screenings of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey and special-effects genius Douglas Trumbull’s most ambitious film as director, Brainstorm. This weekend’s screenings include Godzilla (the original), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), [...]

Sundance Artist Services Program Releases Third Sloan-Supported Film

The Sundance Institute’s Artist Services initiative is releasing twelve new films including Alex Rivera’s Sleep Dealer, which won the 2008 Sloan Feature Film Prize. The Artist Services program is an effort to help Sundance Lab fellows gain distribution by providing them with exclusive opportunities for self-distribution, marketing and financing. Sleep Dealer is now available on [...]

Panic in Year Zero #4: Zip Up

For genre fanboys, we’re living amid a cataract of science fiction cinema—quite possibly, as quantified by dollars spent and asses in seats, a world-beating gold rush of sci-fi-itude. The problem is, most of the movies are about superheroes. We don’t ordinarily think of superhero movies as science fiction, but as they do not traffic in [...]

Reel Science: X-Men: Days of Future Past

Like most blockbuster sci-fi, the X-Men franchise stretches the limits of actual science. But the movies’ title sequences always pay tribute to the real genetic research that has given rise to their stories. In the new film, X-Men: Days of Future Past, the opening credits showcase an array of elaborately colored and animated twisting strands [...]

Deadline Approaching: Hamptons International Film Festival

The Hamptons International Film Festival was the first film festival to partner with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to give an annual cash prize to a film that features a realistic and compelling portrayal of science and technology. The Hamptons/Sloan Feature Film Prize comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s program in public understanding of science and [...]

World Science Festival at Museum of the Moving Image

This year’s World Science Festival, a weekend-long event that aims to bring together world-class science programming designed to inspire, educate and entertain audiences of all ages, starts today. The festival features screenings, performances, lectures, interactive discussions and more, and the wide-ranging program covers topics from the science of weather, to a comet in Brooklyn to the [...]

Decoding Annie Parker at Museum of the Moving Image

This Thursday night, May 29th, Decoding Annie Parker, winner of the 2013 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the Hamptons International Film Festival, will have a special screening at Museum of the Moving Image as part of the World Science Festival (more on that here tomorrow). The screening will start at 7:00PM and a panel discussion following [...]

Reel Science: Godzilla

From the opening moments of the new Godzilla movie, it’s eminently clear that the nuclear fears that animated the first incarnation of the monster in Japan 1954 are still very much with us. In just the film’s first ten minutes, director Gareth Edwards treats us to images of nuclear bomb tests from Bikini Atoll featuring [...]

The Spark: Cain

Zijian Yan’s Sloan Foundation-supported short film, Cain, imagines the meeting of Neanderthals and early humans. The movie, which recently premiered at the Columbia University Film Festival in New York, makes use of evolved scientific understanding that believes Neanderthals were more than cave-dwelling clods. It is, in essence, a classic alien story, two cultures clashing as [...]

Bring Decoding Annie Parker to a Theater Near You

The Sloan Foundation-supported Decoding Annie Parker hit select cities on May 2nd, but thanks to the folks at Gathr, you have the chance to bring the film to your town right now. Gathr is among the new breed of film screening crowd-sourcing services where communities can work together to bring the movies they’re interested in seeing [...]

James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge 3D To Hit Theaters This Summer

Filmmaker James Cameron has never been one for going “small.” He’s the director of the two highest grossing films of all time (Avatar and Titanic), both productions as legendary for their success as for the massive efforts expending in mounting them. Cameron recently made history by becoming the first person to travel in a solo submersible [...]

Peter Sarsgaard, Winona Ryder sign on for Experimenter

In 2009, filmmaker Michael Almereyda’s (Hamlet, Nadja) Experimenter, The Stanley Milgram Story was awarded a Sloan Filmmaker Fund grant. The film is now slated to begin production on June 5 with two major stars attached. As announced this week in the Hollywood Reporter, Peter Sarsgaard and Winona Ryder have signed on to star in the film. [...]

Admiral Rickover Film to Premiere on PBS

Rickover: The Birth of Nuclear Power, a one-hour documentary about the pioneering Admiral Hyman Rickover and his development of the first nuclear submarine and civilian nuclear power plant will premiere on PBS in fall 2014. This colorful story, told for the first time by award-winning television producer Michael Pack, conveys to a new generation the important [...]

Reel Science: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man has always been tied up with the world of science. After all, it is a bite from a radioactive spider—developed, we learn, in the latest chapter of the Hollywood franchise by Peter Parker’s own scientist father—that would transform the teenager into a human arachnid. The new Amazing Spider-Man movies abound with mad scientists whose [...]

Panic in Year Zero #3: Motion Sick

Bidding to be both dystopian science fiction and a breathlessly exciting non-stop action franchise smash, Luc Besson’s newest factory product Brick Mansions is actually neither. The movie’s feints toward genre thoughtfulness are restricted only to imagining that a large section of near-future Detroit has been walled off and written off as a lawless wasteland. Topical [...]

Unprecedented Number of Sloan-Supported Films Opening in 2014

In addition to Particle Fever and I Origins, which have been discussed here previously, at least seven additional films that have received Sloan support will be released into theaters or will have their premieres in 2014. Decoding Annie Parker, the Sloan Feature Film Prize winner from the 2013 Hamptons International Film Festival about Mary-Claire King’s [...]

Reel Science: Transcendence

Unlike Skynet or HAL 9000, Johnny Depp makes for a particularly suave and seductive artificial intelligence in the new film Transcendence. Directed by Wally Pfister, the film posits a near future where A.I. researchers are on the verge of achieving “the Singularity,” that highly anticipated moment where computers will surpass humanity’s capabilities and create systems [...]

2014 Sloan Tribeca Awards

Last night, Sloan and Tribeca Film Institute feted the winners of the previously announced Sloan Filmmaker grants. $150k in prizes were split between Afronauts, The Imitation Game, and Venus Transit. Survival of the Fittest was awarded the 2014 Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize for Screenwriting. For more information about these project, click here.  

Sloan Retrospective Screening of Eternal Sunshine at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival

The 13th annual Tribeca Film Festival, supported by Sloan since inception, is currently underway. This year’s festival will feature a Sloan-supported 10th anniversary retrospective screening of Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind followed by a panel of expert scientists and top film professionals, including producer Anthony Bregman, Daniella Schiller, Professor of Psychiatry & Neuroscience/Mount Sinai, and others, moderated by Science Friday® [...]

Panic in Year Zero #2: The Border

I’m looking forward to the new Godzilla reboot, but for reasons that have nothing at all to do with any unexpurgated childhood ardor I might still harbor for the Toho behemoth or that entire aged genre of deplorable Japanese pulp. (I have none.) Nor does my excitement involve any hope or love for monster movie [...]

The Spark: Forbidden Planet

The familiarity of many of Forbidden Planet’s tropes—a man-made spaceship exploring the galaxy, a story set far from Earth, a robot as a supporting character—can make one forget while watching it today that the film doesn’t merely adhere to conventions; it introduced them. Physicist James Trefil, Robinson Professor of Physics at George Mason University, was [...]

Reel Science: Nymphomaniac

Scientifically speaking, “nymphomania” doesn’t exist. While French doctor M. D. T. Bienville’s first detailed study Nymphomania, or a Dissertation Concerning the Furor Uterinus in 1771 identified many potential causes of excessive sexual desire in women, such as consuming too much chocolate and reading novels, today’s clinicians, doctors and psychiatrists continue to debate whether “hypersexuality”—the more [...]

Reel Science: Noah

“It’s going to destroy the world,” says Russell Crowe’s Noah in Darren Aronofsky’s new biblical epic. Soon, immense torrents of water will fall from the sky, deluges from the ocean will engulf the forests, and gushing floods will drench the land. The flood is one of the enduring myths of human civilization, recounted in Mesopotamian [...]

Panic in Year Zero: We Can Resell You

Without realizing it, we seem to be living in the Golden Age of dystopias. Glance at the rather unthorough Wikipedia entry for dystopian films, and you’ll see that more have been made and released in the last dozen years than in the previous hundred. (The list still leaves out scores of recent qualifiers, including Enki [...]

Sloan News: Science on Screen at BAMcinématek

For three days in March, April, and May, BAMcinématek presents the second edition of Science on Screen, a series that explores the surprising connections between Hollywood fantasy and real-life science. Back by popular demand after its first season at BAM last spring, this program features screenings paired with talks by notable experts in the fields of [...]

Reel Science: Particle Fever

For physics neophytes, Mark Levinson’s documentary Particle Fever is an accessible and entertaining primer on the make-up of the universe. The film not only gives viewers an understanding of complex ideas in theoretical physics, such as why the energy of the elementary Higgs boson matters and why it was dubbed the “God particle,” but it [...]

The Spark: C-3PO and Modern Robotics

“R2-D2, you know better than to trust a strange computer!” C-3PO admonishes his robotic friend in The Empire Strikes Back, the second installment of the original Star Wars trilogy. The idea of computers interacting with one another may have been fodder for jokes at the time, but today, it’s easy to take for granted. Siddhartha [...]

Watch: Fact Checking Gravity

Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity picked up seven Academy Awards on Sunday, making it the night’s big winner even though 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture. For fun, here’s superstar physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (an avowed Gravity fan) poking holes in the film’s science with the help of comedians Eugene Mirman and Michael Ian Black.

Sloan News: Sloan Grand Jury Prize Announced

Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) today announced the recipient of the 2014 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Student Grand Jury Prize for Screenwriting. Survival of the Fittest by Laura Alsum of UCLA’s School of Theatre, Film and Television was selected as the best-of-the-best screenplay from the winning scripts submitted by six leading film schools participating in Sloan’s [...]

Reel Science: Robocop

In science fiction, human beings are frequently pitted against a metallic and mechanized other—manifestations of our culture’s fascination with and fear of technology—from the ominous robot Gort in 1951’s The Day the Earth Stood Still to the various iterations of the Terminator. Robocop, both the 1987 Paul Verhoeven version and the recently released reboot, locate [...]

Sloan News: Computer Chess and the Independent Spirit Awards

All eyes may be on this weekend’s Academy Awards, but we at Science and Film will be keeping a watch on the Independent Spirit Awards ceremony as Andrew Bujalski’s acclaimed film Computer Chess, supported by two Sloan grants from Sundance and Tribeca Film Institutes, is up for three awards. The film has been nominated for Best [...]

The Spark: Fantastic Voyage

  Fantastic Voyage was released in 1966, the same year that Gene Cernan completed the second spacewalk and Star Trek debuted on NBC. But the film eschewed the space race for a trip inside the human body. Merely summarizing the plot does it no favors. A scientist working in the Soviet Union has discovered the [...]

Science in Theaters: 2/14

The much-anticipated Robocop reboot starring Joel Kinnaman hits theaters today, and I’m sure lovers around the U.S. will be flocking to spend their romantic date nights watching eviscerations and explosions! Reviews haven’t been terribly kind thus far, but I’m still curious to see how it stacks up against Paul Verhoeven’s bitingly satirical original take. Anthony [...]

Video of the Week: Fish on Wheels

The genius of this pretty much speaks for itself.

Reel Science: I Origins

Mike Cahill’s I Origins, which won this year’s Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, opens with a series of extreme close-ups of human eyes. Beautiful, mesmerizing and each utterly distinct, these close-ups make the familiar organ feel like a mystical mix of organic material and precious gemstone. Could such a [...]

Video of the Week: The Science of Sochi

Now that the Super Bowl is (thankfully) out of the way, all eyes in the sporting world will turn to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, which kick off tomorrow night. The arrival of each Olympic Games means, of course, hosts of  glossy puff pieces checking in on the sights and sounds of the host city [...]

Science in Theaters: Madden 25

While there’s likely a big budget glossy studio spectacle with a scientist or robot or alien opening in a theater somewhere in America this weekend, who’s going out to the movies with Super Bowl Sunday looming? Museum of the Moving Image has clearly thought ahead: a few weeks ago they opened a new exhibit entitled [...]

Video of the Week: Ancients

A few weeks ago, writing this column got me thinking about the limits of the seeable, and how science-minded videos of various kinds can use film technology to push well past the feeble limits of the human eye and show us all sorts of wonderful things we could never view on our own. That column [...]

Science in Theaters: 1/24

On the occasion of the release of Stuart Beattie’s I, Frankenstein, USA Today corralled a few horror movie writers to discuss the legacy of Mary Shelley’s signature creation on film. The results are here, and they suggest that Dr. Victor Frankenstein’s monster has proven a more vexing problem for filmmakers than, say, Dracula, who has [...]

Video of the Week: Polar Vortex

Stay warm out there, folks.

Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize Announced

Mike Cahill’s I Origins, starring Michael Pitt, Brit Marling and Astrid Bergès-Frisbey has been awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. This prize is “selected by a jury of film and science professionals and presented to outstanding feature films focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting [...]

Science in Theaters: 1/17

First Look continues this weekend at Museum of the Moving Image. Check out Wavemakers, a documentary about the mysterious Ondes Martenot tonight at 7PM. Here’s a synopsis: One of the most compelling music documentaries in years, Wavemakers delves deeply into the history and legacy of an electronic instrument with a haunting, ethereal sound. Invented in [...]

Video of the Week: Flying Jellyfish

The creation of a “flying jellyfish” that weighs about as much as a quarter and costs less than $15 to produce has been big news in science blogs of late. The creators of this object didn’t set out to create a flying jellyfish; they were looking for a mathematical solution to produce stable hovering flight. [...]

Sloan News: Sloan at Sundance

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival, supported by the Foundation for eleven years, will feature a suite of Sloan events from January 16-26 in Park City, Utah. These include: a Sloan science-in-film panel preceded by a ‘sizzle reel’ of Sloan-winning films; a reception and award ceremony for the Sloan feature film prize, the Sloan commissioning grant and the Sloan [...]

Science in Theaters: 1/10

This weekend sees the opening of Museum of the Moving Image’s invaluable First Look series. Now in its third year, First Look has carved out a niche for itself as a kind of quirky, more experimental cousin to the venerable New York Film Festival. Or, perhaps it’s more accurate to call it the internationally-minded sister [...]

Sloan News: Science on Screen Program Featured at the 2014 Art House Convergence

The 2014 Art House Convergence, which brings together 450 art house cinemas once a year, will feature the Foundation’s Science on Screen initiative in a plenary session on January 15th. The Coolidge Corner Cinema’s Science on Screen series fosters scientific literacy by pairing feature films with introductions by working scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. Sloan has supported the expansion [...]

Science in Theaters: 1/3

At the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, the Alfred P. Sloan feature film prize for “outstanding feature films focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting a scientist, engineer or mathematician as a major character” went to Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess. Bujalski’s film, a smeary and surreal B&W early-video shot look at a group [...]

Sloan News: Brie Larson Stars in Sloan-supported Bollywood Science Musical

Basmati Blues, a Bollywood-style musical about genetically modified rice, supported by a 2007 Sloan grant at Film Independent, was shot in India this summer. The film is currently in post-production and is slated for release in 2014 with Brie Larson, Donald Sutherland, and Tyne Daly starring. Larson, who picked up a Gotham Award for her breakout role [...]

Science in Theaters: 12/20

Though everything about the photo above (save for that creepy moustache) certainly suggests a breezy romantic comedy, anyone reading this blog is probably well aware that it’s actually taken from a science fiction film that some critics are calling “the best film in years.” We haven’t been lucky enough to see Spike Jonze’s Siri-inflected love [...]

Video of the Week: Jade Rabbit

Three days ago, China’s Jade Rabbit rover landed on the moon, marking the first time in four decades that mankind has successfully executed a lunar soft landing. Jade Rabbit will be in operation for about three months, and it wasted no time in beaming pictures back to Earth. There’s been a flood of terrific imagery, [...]

Sloan News: Jeremy Irons Signs on to The Man Who Knew Infinity

Variety recently reported that Jeremy Irons has signed on to co-star in the 2008 Sloan-funded project The Man Who Knew Infinity. The film is to be directed by Matthew Brown, who also wrote the screenplay, and produced by Edward R. Pressman’s Cinemorphic along with Sloan grantee Jim Young’s Animus Films. Dev Patel is set to [...]

Science in Theaters: Indie Games at Museum of the Moving Image

I spent most of Thanksgiving weekend 2013 hunched over my laptop playing video games, a form of entertainment that I haven’t actively engaged with since the heyday of Goldeneye. Though my parents and wife worried about some kind of fundamental regression, it was actually for you, dear readers, that I spent hours navigating dark tunnels, [...]

Video of the Week: Science, Religion, and the Big Bang

I was pleasantly surprised by this short from Minute Physics which I stumbled upon last week while researching Google Glass films. In five minutes, the clip’s creators use simple stick figure animations, augmented with tasteful dashes of computer work and a well-chosen archival photo, to clear up a host of commonly held misconceptions about The [...]

Science in Theaters: 12/6

Moving pictures have shown an interest in Mars since as far back as this 1910 ditty from Thomas Edison: This weekend, Ruiari Robinson’s The Last Days on Mars hits theaters joining a distinguished lineage that includes Robinson Crusoe on Mars, Total Recall, Mission to Mars, Ghosts of Mars and, of course, a personal favorite of [...]

Video of the Week: Google Glass

By now you’ve likely heard of Google Glass, the purportedly revolutionary “smart” eyewear that will change the Way We Live forever. Google’s pair of high-tech spectacles use a tiny prism that beams imagery onto the retina of the wearer (click here for a fuller description of the technology), allowing the user to see floating updates [...]

Video of the Week: A Very Special Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving (or, Thanksgivukkah, as some have dubbed 11/28/13 due to the very rare, once-every-70,000-years confluence of secular and Jewish holidays) is upon us. There’s something of a dearth of good science videos out there about Thanksgiving, but given that the only science usually discussed around turkey day is the old tryptophan debate, this may not [...]

Science in Theaters: Early Computer Movies at MOMI

This weekend, Museum of the Moving Image will host a program of films seemingly tailor-made for readers of Science and Film. It’s called Computer Age: Early Computer Movies, 1952-1987, and it’s comprised of a few features which will be known to many (including Tron and The Last Starfighter) as well as a several programs of rarely screened [...]

Video of the Week: The Incredible Machine

There’s a whole strand of science films that can be loosely classified as “industrial” that I’m hoping to explore in this column as it evolves. Industrials are those films made to illustrate the workings of a recent invention or a commercial application for a new technology;  in essence, nonfiction instructional pieces made to clearly explain [...]


The fourth annual DOC NYC festival is upon us and this year’s edition includes 73 features, most of which are seeing their New York or World Premieres, making it the largest iteration yet. Scanning through the lineup, I don’t see any biographies of famous scientific figures, or films that track the course of a major [...]

Science in Theaters: 11/8

Is there “real” science in Thor: The Dark World? While it is too much to expect the average several hundred million dollar studio abortion to care to get the facts straight when it comes to the laws of physics, the film’s focus on a mysterious “Aether” (a concept hotly debated in Einstein’s day) energy that [...]

Video of the Week: The Animated Life of A.R. Wallace

Today marks the centenary of the death of Arthur Russell Wallace. That name might not ring a bell, but A.R. Wallace was an English naturalist who hit upon a theory of evolution via natural selection at just about the same time as Charles Darwin. In fact, on July 1st of 1858 the pair both presented papers [...]

Science in Theaters: 11/1

The flood of 2013 wide release sci-fi movies continues this weekend with the launch of Ender’s Game, based on the popular Orson Scott Card novel. I’m mainly familiar with this series via the covers of the mass-market paperbacks I’d sift past as a youngster while searching for the latest offerings from Michael Crichton or David [...]

Video of the Week: Slow Motion Animals

It is well-acknowledged by now that the film above, which I linked to in my inaugural Video of the Week post, is one of the most important ancestors of that thing we call “cinema.” In its simple series of frames we can locate the roots of Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, Norbit. This short is [...]

Video of the Week: Levitating water drops form spinning stars

Last week’s inaugural Video of the Week, A Boy and His Atom, has had me thinking small of late. Hence this week’s clip: Levitating water drops form spinning stars. Ignore the sub Franz Ferdinand groove on the soundtrack (it’s unclear if the track was supplied by the creators), as what you’re seeing is quite lovely. It’s [...]

Science on Screen Expands

The Coolidge Corner Theatre’s Science on Screen program, which has become a major success both locally and nationally, just announced that twenty more theatres will receive grants to participate in this innovative program. The grantees include independent theaters in Georgia; Florida; New York; Tennessee; New Mexico; and California that will soon launch their own Science [...]

Video of the Week: A Boy and His Atom

I’ve been thoroughly entranced by this little piece of animation since first stumbling upon it a few months back. A Boy and His Atom lasts only a minute and looks like some early 8-bit gaming technology or a perhaps bunch of ball bearings set into motion via stop motion, but what you’re actually seeing are [...]

Upcoming Lecture: Visualizing Scientific Data on the Big Screen

On October 17, The New York Academy of Sciences is putting on what looks to be a fascinating lecture for fans of movies and science. It’s called “Visualizing Scientific Data on the big screen.” Here’s their description: Film is primarily a visual media and communicates on sensory, emotional, and intellectual levels. Science can also be [...]

Defying Gravity: Alfonso Cuarón’s Bearable Weightlessness

Given how much praise critics heaped on Alfonso Cuarón for the seemingly gravity-defying feats of camerawork showcased in Children of Men, perhaps we should have anticipated that his long-gestating follow-up would take place almost wholly in outer space. Why merely defy gravity when you can dispense with it entirely? (And further: what are the narrative [...]

NYFF51: Applied Science

This year’s edition of the venerable New York Film Festival (its 51st!) features an intriguing three-film sidebar for those who enjoy their entertainment with a dash of science. Even though several films in the main selection like Her (artificial intelligence), About Time (time travel), Jimmy P. (psychotherapy/mental illness) and Real (experimental medicine) feature scientific themes, this is [...]

2013 Hamptons Sloan Feature Prize

The winner of the 2013 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize at the Hamptons International Film Festival is Decoding Annie Parker, directed by Steven Bernstein. Based on a true story, the film follows a woman (Samantha Morton) who is diagnosed with breast cancer, after already losing her mother and sister to the disease, and a geneticist (Helen Hunt) who, after spending years researching the breast-cancer gene, makes a breakthrough discovery. The East Coast premiere of the film will take place at the festival on October 11,  followed by a panel discussion with subject Annie Parker and Bernstein.

Focus World and Screen Media Films acquire A Birder’s Guide to Everything

Focus World, a division of Focus Features, has partnered with Screen Media Films to acquire the U.S. distribution rights to Rob Meyers’s A Birder’s Guide to Everything. The film, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival 2013, is slated for release in spring 2014.

New series Brains on Trial will premiere on PBS in September

This new two-part television series with Alan Alda, supported by the Sloan Foundation, explores how the growing ability to separate truth from lies, even decode people’s thoughts and memories, may radically affect how criminal trials are conducted in the future.

Computer Chess at Film Forum

Computer Chess, Andrew Bujalski’s comedy which won the 2013 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, opens in New York at Film Forum on Wednesday, July 17. Variety calls the film “an endearingly nutty, proudly analog tribute… about as weird and singular as independent cinema gets.”

The Fly Room Project

Opening July 24 at Pioneer Works in Red Hook NYC, Imagine Science Films will present The Fly Room Project: an interactive exhibit that reconstructs a 1920s laboratory, considered to be the birthplace of modern genetics. The project—which incorporates milk bottles filled with fruit flies, microscopes, and video installations—was created by Alex Gambis who founded the Imagine Science Film Festival. The exhibit will also be used as the set for a forthcoming feature film about the original Fly Room in 1927.

Film Independent selects 22 filmmakers for Fast Track

Film Independent recently announced the 22 filmmakers and 10 projects selected for the annual Fast Track program, an intensive, three-day film-financing market that connects participants with financiers and film industry professionals. The winners, including Christopher Munch, Nikyatu Jusu, and A. Sayeeda Clarke, were announced during the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival at which the Fast Track program takes place.

Dev Patel in Ramanujan’s Lost Notebook

Dev Patel, star of Slumdog Millionaire, will play the legendary mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan in the upcoming biographical film Ramanujan’s Lost Notebook. The film, which was developed with support through the Film Independent Producer’s Lab, will begin shooting in Fall 2013 in both the U.K. and India.

Midnight Sun to start shooting in July 2013

Atomic bomb-drama Midnight Sun, supported in part by Sloan grants at Film Independent and the Tribeca Film Institute, will start shooting next month. The film will be directed by Chris Eigeman, and will star Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Kruger, and Emile Hirsch. Richard Rhodes, a Sloan Foundation grantee and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his book “The Making of the Atomic Bomb,” is an advisor on the project.

Sundance/Sloan Commissioning Grant awarded to Young Il Kim

Writer Young Il Kim has been awarded the Sundance Institute’s Alfred P. Sloan Commissioning Grant for his original feature script based on the life of physicist Stephen Hawking. Recipients of the grant are awarded funding to further develop their screenplays, with an additional stipend to hire a science advisor.

2013 Tribeca Film Institute Sloan Filmmaker Prize

T​​he 2013 Tribeca Film Institute Sloan Filmmaker Prize has been awarded to Newton’s Laws of Emotion (screenwriter Eugene Ramos and producer Andeep Singh). The project will receive a $10,000 cash prize to support the completion of the film. Newton’s Laws of Emotion follows a young Isaac Newton as he pursues the affections of a headstrong Prussian princess and seeks to uncover the principles of love using his new system of mathematics.

2013 Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize

UCLA student Barnett Brettler is the recipient of ​the ​2013 Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize for his screenplay Waking Hours. This annual prize celebrates the winning script from Sloan’s six film school partners—AFI, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, NYU, UCLA, and USC. The prize includes a $30,000 grant plus mentorship from scientific experts and film industry professionals, networking opportunities, industry exposure, and an extra $20,000 toward the production of the film. Waking Hours tells the story of a UK border agent who must cross into an infected zone to find the woman he loves.

NYC premiere of A Birder’s Guide to Everything

Rob Meyer’s A Birder’s Guide to Everything—a bird-watching comedy starring Ben Kingsley—had its world premiere at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. The film received Sloan development funding through the Sundance Labs in 2010, and was a TFI-Sloan Filmmaker Fund recipient in 2011.

2013 Tribeca Film Institute-Sloan grants

The Tribeca Film Institute and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation have awarded the 2013 TFI-Sloan grants to four projects that integrate science and technology themes. The winners are: 2030, set in a near future Vietnam where seawater has buried a large part of the land and crop cultivation has to be carried out on floating farms; Newton’s Laws of Emotion, about a young Isaac Newton and his romantic and scientific pursuits; Oldest Man Alive, in which a suicidal 88-year-old inventor finds a new reason to live; and Doctor, about a disgraced doctor and medical researcher from India who starts working at an illegal clinic in Queens.

Kino Lorber acquires U.S. rights to Computer Chess

Kino Lorber has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Andrew Bujalski’s comedy Computer Chess, winner of the 2013 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. CEO of Kino Lorber, Richard Lorber, said of the film, “We’re going to have a blast bringing this to cross-over audiences of geeky tech lovers, young and old, as well as the indie art house crowd, who will never have seen anything quite like Andrew’s unprecedented fusion of form and content here.” Andrew Bujalski was awarded the Sloan Development Fund at the Tribeca Film Institute. Computer Chess opens in July at Film Forum in New York City. Read a Cinema Scope interview with Andrew Bujalski here.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and The Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation partner to expand Science on Screen

March 14, 2013 What can Night of the Living Dead (1968) tell us about the inner workings of the zombie brain? How did artificial intelligence research inform the “character” of HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)? These are just some of the subjects addressed in Science on Screen, a lively and inventive national [...]

108 Media/Paladin Acquire Sloan Sundance winner Valley of Saints

108 Media and Paladin have jointly acquired worldwide rights to Valley of Saints, winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at Sundance Film Festival in 2012 and recently nominated for Best Cinematography at the Independent Spirit Awards. Congratulations to the director, Musa Syeed, an NYU graduate who lives in the Museum’s neighborhood Astoria, Queens. Valley of Saints is Syeed’s first feature film—he previously co-produced Bronx Princess (Official Selection, Berlinale) and A Son’s Sacrifice (Best Documentary Short, Tribeca), with Valley cinematographer Yoni Brook.

Future Weather premieres in New York

Jenny Deller’s Future Weather—winner of the 2012 Hamptons Sloan Feature Prize—makes its New York premiere on March 1 at reRun Gastropub Theater in Brooklyn, followed by a discussion with special guests including Deller and The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Doron Weber. Screenings continue through March 7 with nightly discussions with experts exploring some of the film’s key themes—science, youth empowerment, climate action, and independent filmmaking.

Sundance Institute/Alfred P. Sloan Lab Fellowship awarded to Prodigal Summer

Based on the novel by Nicole Kassell, who also co-wrote the film with Barbara Kingsolver, Prodigal Summer is the recipient of the Sundance Institute/Alfred P. Sloan Lab Fellowship. The film weaves together three unexpected love stories through the course of one summer in southern Appalachia. Kassell also directed The Woodsman (2004) and A Little Bit of Heaven (2011).

Computer Chess wins Sundance Award

The 2013 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the Sundance Film Festival has been awarded to Computer Chess. The comedy, set during a 1980s computer chess tournament, was written and directed by Andrew Bujalski, one of the key “Mumblecore” directors whose acclaimed previous films include Funny Ha Ha and Mutual Appreciation. The jury presented the award to the film for its “off-beat and formalistically adventurous exploration of questions of artificial intelligence and human connections.”

2012 Hamptons Sloan Feature Prize

The winner of the 2012 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize at the Hamptons International Film Festival is Jenny Deller’s Future Weather, a coming-of-age drama that explores the sorrow of saying goodbye to what we love, featuring Lili Taylor, Amy Madigan, and newcomer Perla Haney-Jardine. A panel will follow the screening on October 5, 2012.

TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund 2012 Applications Open

Applications for the TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund are open until November 5, 2012. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, in partnership with the Tribeca Film Institute, provides funding for narrative features that are scientifically relevant, accurate, and exciting. For more information, visit Rules and Regulations and FAQs.