In Anya Meksin’s 17-minute film TEMMA, a dying woman named Temma is working on a computer simulation (“Temma”) which is modeled on her own brain. Meksin received a Sloan Production Grant from Columbia University to make the film. She is the writer, director, and editor. Karen Young (THE SOPRANOS) stars. The film is now streaming on Science & Film and will be included in future iterations of the Sloan Science & Film Teacher’s Guide.
With support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Meksin consulted with two experts in the field of robotics before making TEMMA. Roboticist David Hanson, who used to work for Walt Disney helping to design theme parks, develops robots with human-like expressions. In Meksin’s film, the computer program “Temma” includes a screen display of Temma’s face which is able to make different facial expressions. Meksin also consulted with Dr. Brian Scassellati who works at the Social Robotics Lab at Yale University, and who received a Sloan Foundation Research Grant in Computer Science. Dr. Scassellati is a computer engineer focused on making computational models of human behavior. At Yale, he is the director of a group developing robots which can help children with social or cognitive deficits, such as those with autism spectrum disorder.
The Sloan program at Columbia University supports graduate film students for writing or directing films which integrate scientific or technological themes or characters. Museum of the Moving Image’s Sloan Science & Film library includes over 50 of these short films made by graduate students across the country which are available to stream any time.