Imagine Science Film Festival: A Marriage of Science and Film

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“The most unremarkable of events: Jerome Marrow, Navigator First class, is only days away from a year-long manned mission to Titan. Of course, selection for Jerome was virtually guaranteed at birth.
He is blessed with all the physical and intellectual gifts required for such an arduous undertaking, a genetic quotient second to none. 
No, there is truly nothing remarkable about the progress of Jerome Morrow, except that I am not Jerome Morrow.”
– Gattaca 

The movie Gattaca can easily be classified as one of the best movies to come out of the 1990’s, or at least it can be in the circles we run in. Gattaca pairs an original storyline, a compelling cast of characters and pervasive science themes to create a wonderful marriage of futuristic science principles and entertaining cinema.   

Last November Ann Merchant, our very own Deputy Executive Director here at The Exchange was asked to be a judge at the Imagine Science Film Festival.

Ann looks back fondly of her time judging the films, “I thought that it was really gratifying to see so many filmmakers finding science as the basis and inspiration for their creative work. There were both fiction and non-fiction examples of films that were submitted for the festival, but science was the wellspring for so many great ideas that transfer to visually entertaining films with excellent storylines. I genuinely liked sitting down and watching all these films, I had a great time!”

Based out of New York City, the festival began as the brain-child of Alexis Giambi , five years ago. The festival seeks to encourage a greater collaboration between scientists who dedicate their lives to studying the world we live in and filmmakers who have the power to interpret and expose this knowledge, ultimately making science accessible and stimulating to a broader audience. 

As part of the festival, The Exchange hosted a screening of Gattaca, in conjuction with Science & the Arts, followed by a lively panel discussion. Jeffrey Khan, the Robert Henry Levi & Ryda Hecht Levi Professor of Bioethics & Public Policy at Johns Hopkins University and John Quackenbush Professor of Biostatistics and Computational Biology discussed the plausibility and reality that the movie may hold. The panel was moderated by Michael Rosenfeld, the Head of Television and Film at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, who brought his extensive experience in the world of film to the conversation. 

Genetic testing and the ethics behind such practices were discussed, and sometimes debated, between the panelists. All of which lead to an entertaining evening for all in attendance. 

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The statements and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the event participants and do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for this event or of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.