Science On Screen

SCIENCE ON SCREEN: Robot and Frank (plus Q&A w/ Ross Mead, USC Interaction Lab!)

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6/28/2014 - 1:30PM

Q&A w/ Ross Mead, USC Interaction Lab! “A more hopeful reimagining of 2001‘s portrait of man-machine relations, Robot & Frank envisions a near future in which automated servants aid the elderly in their twilight years. But for retired cat burglar Frank (Frank Langella), memory loss is something to be denied, and the robot his son saddles him with is an intruder to be hated — until Frank discovers that the mechanical assistant (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) is willing to be trained as his thieving accomplice. Jake Schreier’s film charts their burgeoning friendship — which comes to include heists and cover-ups both sly and clumsy — with an attention to Frank’s need for a companion who will listen to him and acknowledge him for who he is. The sentimental drama is more attuned to issues of acceptance and self-reflection, even though a nicely underplayed climactic revelation and Sarsgaard’s vocal performance deftly color the robot’s pre-programmed remoteness with hints of human curiosity and deviousness.” (Nick Schager, Village Voice)
Dir. Jake Schreier, 2012, DCP, 89 min.

Watch the trailer for “Robot and Frank”!
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SCIENCE ON SCREEN: Watermark (plus Q&A w/ Connor Everts, Southern California Watershed Alliance!)

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6/6/2014 - 7:30PM

“[E]legant, eye-widening 5K ultra-high-definition video visuals that astonish by showing us the world in a particularly immersive way.” — Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

Q&A to follow with Connor Everts, co-chair of the Southern California Watershed Alliance! The awe-inspiring, challenging, delicate, destructive and essential aspects of water is chronicled in this sensorially sweeping documentary tone poem, one akin to Baraka and Koyaanisqatsi in its visual beauty. Renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky and filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal first teamed for one of the most intense docs of the last decade: 2006’s Manufactured Landscapes, which followed Burtynsky photographing civilization’s materials and debris — quarries, recycling yards, factories, mines and dams. The same team joins once again to bring together diverse stories from around the globe: how we’re drawn to water, what we learn from it, how we use it and the consequences of that use. Soaring aerial perspectives show us massive floating abalone farms off China’s coast; the construction site of the world’s biggest arch dam; the barren delta where the Colorado River no longer reaches the ocean; the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach; the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, where thirty million people gather for a sacred Ganges bath. With Watermark, the viewer is immersed in a magnificent force of nature that we all take for granted — until it’s gone.
Dirs. Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky, 2013, DCP, 90 min.

Watch the trailer for “Watermark”!

A Brief History of Time (encore, 11/24)

RARE 35MM SCREENING!
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11/24/2013 - 7:30PM

Errol Morris’ definitive portrait of the legendary Professor Stephen Hawking returns in 35mm! Taking its title from the bestselling book of the same name, this insightful portrait of the theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and superstar Stephen Hawking focuses both on his groundbreaking scientific research, and on the crucial formative years of his extraordinary life. Spielberg recommended Errol Morris (Gates of Heaven, The Thin Blue Line) to direct this adaptation of Hawking’s work, and our galaxy is all the better for it, as few other documentaries have done as much to humanize the mysteries of infinity. As well, Morris finds a humble universality in his subject, illustrating how Hawking’s cool acceptance of the affliction (motor neuron disease) that ravaged his body seemingly re-focused his mind. Moving, inspirational and not yet on DVD.
Dir. Errol Morris, 1991, 35mm, 83 min.

Watch the Cinefamily’s original trailer for “A Brief History of Time”!
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SCIENCE ON SCREEN: A Brief History of Time

Rare 35mm screening!
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11/22/2013 - 8PM

ScienceOnScreen

Errol Morris’ definitive portrait of the legendary Professor Stephen Hawking returns in 35mm! After the screening, stick around for a Q&A with Stephon Alexander, a world-class astrophysicist specializing in cosmology, particle physics and quantum gravity. Q&A moderated by Claire Evans (editor-in-chief, OMNI Reboot.)

Taking its title from the bestselling book of the same name, this insightful portrait of the theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and superstar Stephen Hawking focuses both on his groundbreaking scientific research, and on the crucial formative years of his extraordinary life. Spielberg recommended Errol Morris (Gates of Heaven, The Thin Blue Line) to direct this adaptation of Hawking’s work, and our galaxy is all the better for it, as few other documentaries have done as much to humanize the mysteries of infinity. Despite being given a brief life expectancy at age 21, Hawking has flourished for a half-century, triumphing over adversity while immortalizing himself in the fields of physics and cosmology with his theories on general relativity and the properties of black holes. Still, Morris finds a humble universality in his subject, illustrating how Hawking’s cool acceptance of the affliction (motor neuron disease) that ravaged his body seemingly re-focused his mind. Moving, inspirational and not yet on DVD.
Dir. Errol Morris, 1991, 35mm, 83 min.

Watch the Cinefamily’s original trailer for “A Brief History of Time”!
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SCIENCE ON SCREEN: Computer Chess (sneak preview!)

Vintage tech and off-the-cuff surrealism!
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7/28/2013 - 6PM

Science on Screen at The Cinefamily is made possible through a grant from the Coolidge Corner Theatre, with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Computer Chess opens Friday, August 2nd at Landmark’s NuArt.

“About as perfect a rendering of the era as you could ask for — the acting is uniformly superb: every twitch, every stumble, every stutter is deployed with absolutely plausibility. As an act of cultural archeology I can think of few better.” — Andrew Pulver, The Guardian

Wrapped up in a dense ball of whimsy, vintage tech gear, off-the-cuff surrealism and an Altman-like diagonal wanderlust, Computer Chess marks a breathtaking new direction for indie stalwart Andrew Bujalski, here departing from the mumblecore naturalism of Funny Ha Ha and Mutual Appreciation to present a left-field melding of the fantastical and the mundane. Setting the action at a nondescript hotel in 1980, and capturing his images using the unique B&W look of Portapak cameras (the pioneering Seventies portable video format), Bujalski brings together a panoply of old-school computer programmer types ostensibly for a chess tournament pitting circuit board against circuit board. What emerges from this breezy, vignette-laden masterpiece of spirit and comedic tone are quietly brilliant meditations on the nature of A.I., Carter-era optimism and the lingua franca of nerd-dom. No film released in 2013 comes even close to Computer Chess’s wholly unique balance between playful emotional resonance and keen aesthetics — and no other indie film in recent memory evokes the warm feelings of a bygone era with such empathetic zeal. After the screening, stick around for a Q&A with media theorist/chess obsessive Scott McCloud (Understanding Comics) and computer programmer Maciej Ceglowski (Pinboard, Bedbug Registry)!
Dir. Andrew Bujalski, 2013, digital presentation, 92 min.

Watch the trailer for “Computer Chess”!
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SCIENCE ON SCREEN: Bestiaire (opening night party!)

A breathtaking look at interspecies observation!
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2/22/2013 - 7:30PM

Science on Screen at The Cinefamily is made possible through a grant from the Coolidge Corner Theatre, with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

A truly breathtaking exploration of interspecies observation, Bestiaire is the rare documentary that’s subdued and meditative to the point of sensory-deprivation, but also suffused with so much depth and mystery that it’s impossible to turn your eyes away.   Shot by celebrated documentarian Denis Côté in Hemmingford, Quebec’s Parc Safari animal sanctuary over the course of several months, Bestiaire simply captures extended tableau of Parc Safari’s creatures doing the actions that they do, as well as their human handlers in the act of tending to them.  This visually stunning montage is especially remarkable because it has no deliberate agenda: no interviews, no narration, no sentimentality — and no overt political bent to color its scenes.  Every moment is composed like a painting, and each subject is captured by the camera as though in the middle of intense, deliberate choreography.  Lingering and drifting into each other in a startling way, these mini-chapters’ gentle intensity accumulates into an experience that will likely be cohesive in a completely different way for every person who takes them in.  Potent stuff, in one of the greatest docs of the year. As part of the opening night festivities, Jason G. Goldman (author of the Thoughtful Animal blog on the Scientific American network) will be here to participate in a Socratic Q&A-style session regarding animal subjectivity — and art gallery Mastodon Mesa will throw a back patio happening featuring taxidermy, wildlife education, a drawing session and LIVE HOOFED FRIENDS! The show also includes Rachel Mayeri’s short film Primate Cinema: Apes As Family (which just premiered at Sundance 2013) and Nicolas Provost’s Moving Stories (the short which played before screenings of Bestiaire at Sundance 2012.)
Dir. Denis Côté, 2012, digital presentation, 72 min.

PRIMATE CINEMA: APES AS FAMILY
Chimpanzees, our closest relatives, like to watch film and television. What would a dramatic film made expressly for chimps look like? Media artist Rachel Mayeri — working with primatologists, a film crew, and actors in chimp suits — shot a film expressly for chimpanzees, and world-premiered it at the Edinburgh Zoo.
Dir. Rachel Mayeri, 2012, digital presentation, 13 min.

MOVING STORIES
In this short study of the dramatic and narrative power of image and sound, Nicolas Provost (director of The Invader) proves to be a talented cinematic manipulator who, through minimal means, can achieve a strongly emotionally loaded result. Comprised entirely of close-up footage capturing a jet airliner at the tail end of the “magic hour”, and with haunting audio excerpts from David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, Moving Stories provides a truly eerie portrait of machines in motion — a new kind of beast found in nature.
Dir. Nicolas Provost, 2012, digital presentation, 8 min.

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “Bestiaire”!

Watch the trailer for “Primate Cinema”!

SCIENCE ON SCREEN: Primer (Shane Carruth & Prof. Clifford V. Johnson in person!)

Shane Carruth in person!
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2/20/2013 - 7:30PM

Science on Screen at The Cinefamily is made possible through a grant from the Coolidge Corner Theatre, with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Science fiction (the good kind, anyway) is based on a beautiful river of “what-ifs.” Here’s one: what if Robert Zemeckis had a degree in mathematics and was a former engineer? Would he have made a film like Primer, which treats time travel with total realism, hewing closely both to the physics behind it and the actual culture of technological advancement? Because that’s what, on a budget of only $7,000, director Shane Carruth did, as well as serving as writer, editor, star and composer as well. Dedicated to portraying scientific advancement the way it really happens — in the garages of engineers, after the formal work day is done — Primer didn’t just blow minds, it short-circuited them as they tried to follow the intricacy of its unprecedentedly accurate portrayal of the implications of what it would really be like to travel through time. Awarded the 2004 Sundance Grand Jury Prize, Primer has steadily built a devoted, if bewildered, cult following ever since — and tonight, we’ll have not only Shane Carruth in person to introduce the film, but also USC’s Prof. Clifford V. Johnson in the house to give the audience a sweet breakdown of time travel and physics after the screening!
Dir. Shane Carruth, 2004, 35mm, 77 min.

Watch the trailer for “Primer”!
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