“Storytelling is a far more effective way to make us aware of profound changes than are data, charts and graphs.”
– Will Travis, 2017 Science on Screen presenter

For six years the California Film Institute has been using the medium of film as an educational tool to present STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) based films to enhance scientific literacy in an engaging and entertaining presentation for audiences of all ages through our Science on Screen program at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center.

The 2017 Science on Screen program topics ranged from the natural world and environmental issues, to neuroscience and our relationship with technology.

Filmmaker Gary Weimberg. Photo © Allison Levenson Photography

L to R: Rafael Director of Programming Richard Peterson, Filmmaker Gary Weimberg, Indigo Prasad and Dr. Che Prasad. Photo © Allison Levenson Photography

In February, Smith Rafael Film Center audiences learned about scientific trailblazer Dr. Marian Diamond and her 60-year career researching the human brain with a screening of My Love Affair with the Brain: The Life and Science of Dr. Marian Diamond followed by a discussion with filmmaker Gary Weimberg, Dr. Che Prasad, a pathologist at Marin General Hospital who conducted research on the relationship between the brain and the immune system with Dr. Diamond, and Dr. Prasad’s young daughter Indigo, who was featured in the film.

Popular past programs have ranged from Math = Magic – How Science Powers Pixar’s Animation, an illustrated lecture from animator Tony DeRose on the extraordinary contribution of mathematics to animated films with clips from Pixar’s Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, The Incredibles, Monsters, Inc. and Brave, to Mission To Mars, an illustrated presentation about planning and preparation for the first human mission to Mars with planetary scientist Dr. Pascal Lee from the Mars Institute, the SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center followed by a 3D screening of Ridley Scott’s The Martian.

Film is a versatile medium that can educate audiences on complex scientific issues while entertaining them at the same time. This is the mission at the core of the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center’s Science on Screen program.

Dr. Pascal Lee. Photo © Allison Levenson Photography