Science hasn’t always received its proper due on screen, with marginalized depictions of scientists, laughably inaccurate renderings of the scientific process and inadequate attention to the central role of science and technology in modern life.
Enter the 2017 Sloan Film Summit. Held triennially, the Sloan Film Summit is a weekend-long conference devoted to exploring the intersection of science, technology and entertainment. Not just the tech used to create movies and TV shows—but rather how science, scientists and technology are represented onscreen in popular media.
To learn more about the impact science has had on cinematic endeavors, check out this video co-produced by Film Independent and Intrinsic Value Films, featuring commentary from Neil deGrasse Tyson, Geena Davis, Emily Mortimer, Lydia Dean Pilcher, Ginny Mohler, Michael Mitnick and more:
Launched in 1999, the Sloan Film Summit is an essential part the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s effort to broaden public understanding of science and technology. This year, the Summit will be produced once again by Film Independent and held in Downtown Los Angeles, October 27-29, at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles and the Regal Cinemas at LA LIVE.
“We’re delighted to partner with Film Independent,” says Doron Weber, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Vice President and Program Director. Weber describes the Sloan Film Program as “a nonprofit movie studio for science” that “supports the most innovative filmmakers and the most original new work that engages with science and technology.”
“The Sloan Foundation’s commitment to supporting filmmakers is so impactful, both for the filmmakers and for the culture at large,” says Film Independent President Josh Welsh.
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a nonprofit philanthropic organization dedicated to providing grants for original research and education in science, technology and economics. Increasingly, the Sloan Foundation has partnered with arts organization to help launch projects featuring the depiction of legitimate scientific practice or that tell the stories of scientists and their work.
The Sloan Film Summit will kick off on Friday, October 27 with a public screening of Marjorie Prime, Michael Almereyda’s beautiful and melancholic exploration of artificial intelligence, memory and regret, starring Lois Smith, Jon Hamm, Tim Robbins, Geena Davis and Stephanie Andujar.
The film was awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The screening will be followed by a conversation with the film’s creative team, who will be joined by esteemed scientists to explore the timely issues raised by the film, most notably the increasing presence of AI in the world and in our most intimate relationships.
The fact-based fun continues Saturday, with a full day of invitation-only panels, workshops and networking sessions—including an in-depth conversation between renowned music video director, immersive storyteller and virtual reality pioneer Chris Milk and award-winning designer, academic and experiential media creator Alex McDowell on the future of immersive storytelling.
Saturday concludes with an evening screening of Alexandra Dean’s new documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, about the fascinating life of Hollywood-starlet-turned-pioneering-radar-technologies-inventor Hedy Lamarr (also the subject of this excellent episode of Karina Longworth’s You Must Remember This podcast.) A special “Women in Science” panel will follow; with guest speakers including NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory systems engineer Tracy Drain and Professor Danijela Cabric of the UCLA Electrical Engineering Department.
Sunday, the Summit will open to the public for a showcase of Sloan-supported shorts, staged readings and a sneak peak of three upcoming Sloan features: Lydia Dean Pilcher and Ginny Mohler’s Radium Girls, Shawn Snyder’s To Dust and Ben Lewin’s The Catcher Was a Spy. The Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning producer Pilcher will also present a keynote address, followed by a roundtable discussion with top TV showrunners about the process of injecting hard science into mass entertainment.
A limited number of seats all of the weekend’s events will be available to the public on-site on a first-come, first-serve basis. Check out sloanfilmsummit.org for more details. Film Independent Members will have priority access. Not a Member? Click here to join.
To see a full schedule of events, including speaker and panelist info, click here.
The 2017 Sloan Film Summit takes place October 27-29 at the Japanese American National Museum in Downtown Los Angeles. For more information about the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, visit sloan.org.
(Header: Jon Hamm and Lois Smith in Marjorie Prime)