This is one of the most amazing festival stories I have heard yet. I met my friend Mitch Block (known to all industryites who care about documentaries and
himself, worth a separate blog) on the circuit, and he introduced me to Keri Kukral and told me the two of them were organizing a science film festival at
Cal Tech and Fox Studios to be held this December 6-8. They already have a VOD platform,
website (www.rawscience.tv), YouTube channel, and are now
tickets to the festival
I am very partial to science and particularly to women in science because my family roots in science include the recent graduation of my niece from
Stanford with her Master’s Degree in evolutionary biology.
Up to now, the only media-oriented science initiative I knew of was The Sloan Foundation which encourages
science in media and in tandem, encourages women in science and media. On the festival front, there exist only a handful of science film festivals
including Goethe Institute’s 10 year old Science Film Festival in October which showed 78 films from
27 countries from SE Asia, No. Africa and the Middle East; St. Petersburg’s International Science Film Festival World of Knowledge which began in 2006; the seven
year old Imagine Science Film Festival in October featuring 89 films (5 features) from 20 countries
which counts 35 women directors, Scinema in Australia since 2001, Jackson Hole Wildlife FF,
Pariscience FF and a very few others
Now we can add Raw Science TV and
Raw Science Film Festival
to be held for the first time ever at Cal Tech’s Beckman Auditorium with an awards ceremony at Fox Studios. Of course, Cal Tech is pushing this festival to
its student body, but the public is cordially invited as well. Up to $40,000 in prizes will be awarded for science and technology videos and films.
is a new online network that produces and distributes on-demand videos, news and original programming about science and technology. The festival is a
collaboration with the Science and Entertainment Exchange of the National Academy of
Sciences, the Caltech to present the first annual Raw Science Film Festival.
Award winners and runners-up will be screened at Caltech’s Beckman Auditorium on December 6, 2014 and the Awards Ceremony will be held in the Zanuck
Theater at 20th Century Fox Studios on December 8, 2014.
Organized within a year’s time, this festival is aimed at a broad public and celebrates filmmakers inspired by science.
“We wanted to create a film festival that significantly supported filmmakers who share the wonderful world of science and technology through exceptional
film and video content,” explained Mitchell Block, Executive Director of Programming for Raw
Science. “Our goal is to find, present, award and promote the youngest generation of student filmmakers all the way to the seasoned professional filmmaker,
and in any style of film imaginable, be it narrative, documentary short, feature.”
We know sci-fi has a broad appeal, so let’s start there and later discover who this amazing woman, Keri Kukral, is and how she ventured into mostly
The festival will screen the finalists for the eight awards offered in the categories of Less Than Ten Minutes and More Than Ten Minutes by students and by
professionals to show on campus at its 1,100 seat theater. 20th Century Fox’s 400 seat Zanuck Theater will host the Awards Ceremony which will
screen the winners. There will also be special theatrical feature and doc awards presented.
The call for submissions went out through the campus and through various film groups like IFP. Mitch Block, who is the director of programming, made the
first selection which will be judged. The Raw Science Film Festival Jury includes Academy Award ™ winning & nominated filmmakers Luke Matheny (Best
Short Film, “God of Love”), Randal Kleiser (“Grease” and “Honey I Blew up the Kid”), Martha Coolidge (“Real Genius” and “The Twilight Zone” TV Series) and
John Singleton (“Boyz n the Hood” and “Tupac”), and Iram Parveen Bilal (“Josh”).
Now, let’s return to who is Keri Kukral:
As former professional ballet dancer and engineer, Keri Kukral has a deep appreciation for the merging of creative and technical fields. She was chosen to
train on full scholarship by Ruth Page at 10 years old. She performed under the direction of Larry Long and the Chicago Tribune Charities, New York City
Ballet dancer Bryan Pitts with Ballet Oklahoma, and as an apprentice at Joffrey Ballet. After retiring from ballet, Keri attended Purdue University where
she received a degree in biomedical/electrical engineering. She spent over a decade developing medical devices including the “The Navigator,” one of the
first devices approved to monitor blood glucose real-time continuously with wireless data transfer. Keri also managed R&D for products including the
“Apollo” micro catheter for use in treating brain AVMS.
Keri has always loved science media.
For the decade while she was working in engineering, she would finance special trips to interview people she cared about. “I first started jumping into
science media by documenting a group of radio astronomers led by Bob Dixon in Ohio with an organization called NAAPO. That
eventually led to many others including Stephen Hawking; Michio Kaku of string theory fame; and Nikolai Kardashev (deputy director of the Russian Space
She would bring with her Donald Goldsmith, Raw Science’s science editor who cowrote “Origins” with Neil deGrasse Tyson and whose college advisor was Carl
Sagan, and the cinematographer Paul Goldsmith (no relation) whose NYU Film School’s classmate was Mitch Block and who introduced the two. It was Mitch who
suggested the film festival.
She was aware that the audience for science was quickly leaving TV and migrating to the internet. It began to be clear to her that one could make a
legitimate network on the internet, and so she moved from her hobby to her new entrepreneurial endeavor by winning a pitch contest held by Cal Tech and
Idealab. They seed-funded the medical start-up where she was currently working.
The newly created VoD platform has just licensed its first film, “Particle Fever”, a feature film that took 12 years to make about the discovery of the
Higgs Boson, popularly known as “The God Particle”. Netflix and Raw Science share this film and there are more in the pipeline.
video-on-demand: Particle Fever
VoD revenues will contribute to the creation of independent science content straight from the thinkers, unbiased and unfiltered. So, dear reader, why buy
off of Netflix when buying from RawScience.tv will help support this most worthy endeavor?
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