This is a great example of how, through the Art House Convergence, independent theaters are sharing information and best practices.
Science on Screen is one of the Coolidge Theater’s longest-running and most popular programs, and they now have the opportunity to help other independent theaters introduce it to their audiences. The Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, Mass. is teaming up with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to bring the Coolidge’s Science on Screen program to other independent theaters nationwide. Launched in 2005, Science on Screen educates about science while entertaining through movies, providing audiences with enlightenment along with their popcorn. The monthly series creatively pairs screenings of feature films or documentaries with notable figures from the world of science, medicine, or technology. Each film is used as a springboard for the speaker to introduce scientific research or technological advances in a way that engages popular audiences – from the brain structure of the zombies in Night of the Living Dead to how far epidemiology has come since The Andromeda Strain.
The Sloan Foundation has awarded the Coolidge Corner Theatre a $150,000 grant to sustain its existing Science on Screen program and to award grants to 6-8 independent theaters across the country to bring the program to their own communities. Denise Kasell, executive director of the Coolidge Corner Theatre, Elizabeth Taylor-Mead, the Coolidge’s associate director and the curator of Science on Screen, and Doron Weber, head of the Sloan Foundation’s program in Public Understanding of Science and Technology, introduced the national initiative on June 19 at a workshop at the AHC. The Coolidge Corner Theatre is a founding member of the Convergence and has helped shape its mission.
Now in its seventh season, Science on Screen creatively pairs screenings of feature films and documentaries with lively presentations by notable experts in science and technology. Each film serves as a jumping off point for the speaker to share insights from scientific research or discuss technological advances in a way that engages popular-culture audiences. Programs such as The Wild Child with linguist Judy Shepard-Kegl, Fight Club with biological anthropologist Richard Wrangham and The Day the Earth Stood Still with roboticist Dennis Hong have enlightened audiences about language acquisition, the origins of male violence, and groundbreaking advances in humanoid robots.
The Sloan Foundation’s support of Science on Screen is part of the Foundation’s broader commitment to fostering greater public understanding of science and technology through the medium of film.
“Over the past decade, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has made enormous contributions to the film community and the public by partnering with major film schools and film festivals to promote a deeper, richer connection to the many different ways that science and technology affect our lives,”
said Denise Kasell, executive director of the Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation.
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit grantmaking institution based in New York City. Established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr., then-President and Chief Executive Officer of the General Motors Corporation, the Foundation makes grants in support of original research and education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and economic performance.