“Science on Screen” to expand nationwide

Great news for scientific cinephiles: the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline announced Tuesday that it has received a two-year, $463,426 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to expand its popular “Science on Screen” series nationwide.  Since 2005, the program has brought in leading scientists and science writers to host fun, informal pre-screening discussions about the scientific themes and implications of popular films.  The program aims to attract a wide audience, so the selections aren’t niche documentaries or obscure D-movies that only the MST:3000 guys (above) would watch.  On the contrary, it’s an eclectic mix of gems that may not even seem “scientific” at first glance.  No topic is too outlandish for consideration.  According to the Boston Globe, past experts at the Coolidge have discussed everything from bird swarming (in Hitchcock’s The Birds) to zombie anatomy (in Night of the Living Dead) to viral outbreaks (in 12 Monkeys).  The speakers hope to expand the viewer’s horizons by injecting a little “real” science into the usual Hollywood “junk” science.

(Nobody asked me, but future topics I’d love to see covered: the worldwide infertility of Children of Men, the social hierarchies of Gosford Park, the nuclear re-ignition of the sun in Sunshine, how many balloons it would really take to lift the house in Up….just friendly suggestions!)

The Coolidge has a mandate to implement the “Science on Screen” program in 20 independent nonprofit cinemas in 2012, with expansion to another 20 in 2013.  Theaters receiving the grant money will be encouraged to show the winners of the annual Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film prize, which honors outstanding science- and technology-themed films (Another Earth, starring indie fave Brit Marling, took home last year’s award).

Looking ahead at the Coolidge, audiences can learn about time travel from MIT Theoretical Physics director Edward Farhi prior to a screening of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure on January 30.  And on February 20,  Northeastern professor and APA journal editor David DeSteno will discuss morality ahead of Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors.  

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