There is no spoken dialogue in Filippo Conz’s seven-minute film TYMBALS, but there is communication; throughout, there is the sound of cicadas. A tymbal is a membrane in the abdomen of a cicada which vibrates to produce the droning sound of the insect. TYMBALS features an entomologist who studies these insects. The film lapses into sepia-toned flashbacks as the sound of the cicadas emerging brings back memories of the entomologist’s late husband. Trevor Long plays the husband and Lola Glaudini plays the scientist.
The director, Filippo Conz, is a graduate of Columbia University School of the Arts. TYMBALS was made with support from a Sloan Foundation production grant. While at Columbia making the film, Conz consulted with Professor Chris Simon. Simon is a cicada expert and professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut. She runs a lab where, among other things, she studies the “biodiversity, taxonomy, systematics and evolution of cicadas worldwide.”
TYMBALS is available to stream in its entirety below, and is included in the Sloan Science & Film Teacher’s Guide, along with discussion questions and scientific references.