Following the success of its first Abu Dhabi-based festival in February 2015, Imagine Science Films returns for a second season next month with an even more robust program intended to provide the general public a window to the complexities of science through the accessibility of film. The festival, to be held at The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi on February 18-20, 2016, will be comprised of a series of short- and feature-film screenings free and open to the public, along with Atmospheres, an accompanying sci-art exhibition. The three-day festival will also include panel discussions, Q&As, artist talks, workshops, and performances on a wide variety of scientific and science-inspired subjects ranging from simulation to ecological balance, present weather to future archaeological record.
In existence since 2008, Imagine Science Films is a New York-based non-profit organization committed to promoting high-level dialogue between scientists and filmmakers. While the annual Imagine Science Film Festival, now on its ninth year, is based in New York City, satellite events have taken place in cities including Berlin, Hong Kong, Dublin, Chicago, San Francisco, Quito, Kaluga, Marseilles, and Abu Dhabi.
Alexis Gambis, Executive Director of Imagine Science Films and Assistant Professor of Biology at NYU Abu Dhabi says: "This year, we will probe into the world around and above us investigating ecological balance, climate change, extraterrestrial life and dreams through documentary, fiction, and scientific data."
Both the film festival and the Atmospheres exhibition will open on Thursday, February 18 at 6 pm. American experimental musician Quintron will kick the program off at sunset with a performance on the Weather Warlock, a unique analog drone synthesizer of his own invention that translates the weather into musical sounds. This will be followed by the MENA premiere of Luc Jacquet’s Ice and the Sky, which sees the renowned director returning to the Antarctic of his March of the Penguins. The gripping scientific adventure story, which premiered at Cannes Film Festival, tells the story of Claude Lorius, whose groundbreaking work laid the foundation for much of our modern understanding of climate change.
Many festival highlights this year span both the film program and the Atmospheres exhibition. Beirut-born visual artist Ali Cherri, whose film The Digger will appear in the Friday, February 19 centerpiece program Excavations and Displacements, will also be showing two older works in the exhibition, together forming a multi-faceted portrait of the past and present Middle East, particularly its archeological record and subconscious.
Palestinian artist and filmmaker Larissa Sansour’s In the Future, They Ate From the Finest Porcelain (also featured in Excavations and Displacements) and A Space Exodus (in Atmospheres) each harness science fiction to explore the situation in Palestine. Other artist/filmmakers appearing in both the film program and exhibition include Rana Jarbou (Saudi Arabia), Momoko Seto (France), Semiconductor (UK), and Toby Smith (UK) who will be creating a new photo series which will be premiered in Atmospheres.
While Atmospheres will remain open to the public until February 23, the film festival will close on Saturday, February 20 with Michael Madsen’s highly original and thought-provoking The Visit. An inventive documentary science fiction, the film vividly examines the hypothetical first contact with extraterrestrials through interviews and simulations with the actual United Nations department charged with preparing for such an event.
All screenings will be accompanied by panel discussions including filmmakers and scientists.
In the weeks leading up to the festival Imagine Science Films will be promoting film and science throughout the region through talks, collaborations, and outreach programs designed to broaden the festival’s impact and to inspire emerging scientist-filmmakers. Field Work | Middle East proposes a series of original films leading up to the festival that experiment with a variety of cinematic forms in telling stories both locally relevant and scientifically-inclined while, for the second year, the Festival will show the latest in Scenes, short visual glimpses of raw data that showcase the ongoing research in labs and in the field today in the United Arab Emirates. Finally, The Student Film Lab is a filmmaking competition which encourages high school students to explore their creativity and scientific ideas through narrative film. High school students from Abu Dhabi will make films using mobile phones around the prompt “Air Above Us, Air Inside Us.”