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Imagine Science Film Festival

by Eva Amsen

I went up and down to New York this week, and watched people watch Lab Waste at the Imagine Science Film Festival.

I was in a foul mood before the trip. The only reason I even went to New York is that I had already paid for the bus ticket, and I had nothing better to do. Even walking up to the Bell House I was still grumpy and considered just turning around. I didn’t need to be there, it wouldn’t matter.

But once I was inside there was a bar and random nice people who recommended beer to me (I didn’t know 90% of the strange local beers on the draft list) so my mood slowly changed, and only went uphill from there. Once the doors opened, though, I was a bit skeptical about the many chairs they put out for the screening. Nine tiny films, many of which were already online – why would people even show up for that on a Tuesday night?

But the place was packed very quickly. I picked a seat near the side, so I could look at the audience and see how they reacted. I found Imagine Science Film Festival’s Alexis and introduced myself, and heard that there were filmmakers for three of the films present, so we would do a little Q&A at the end.

Imagine Science Film Festival

So many people

Here’s the introduction to the films:

The Imagine Science Film Festival films were all very different. There were documentaries, fictional stories, music videos, and animations from all areas of science.

Sabbi – who I didn’t find until after the screening – said she was going to blog about the first film of the night, “Naming Pluto”, so I’ll skip that. My own favourite was MEPE, which was a funny detective story about a biologist who stole different species of animals to study a protein, and the detective who solved the case. (Here it is online, but it’s in French and this version doesn’t have subtitles.)

The crowd pleaser was PCR Rap, and Zach was also in attendance. I met him at the question round, and then again on the train back.

I got so nervous when Lab Waste came on. The people sitting near me didn’t know that I made it, so I could observe their honest reactions. Lab Waste was one of the few serious films of the evening so it didn’t get any laughs (and this audience was in stitches about Sir Patrick Moore in another film, so the treshold for laughing was quite low…) but I got applause and some cheers at the end =)

At the end of the nine films that were on the program, we got to see two bonus films. One was a Bulgarian 1974 futuristic vision of 2000, involving robots and communism and outer space. The other bonus film was Ginger, about the genetics of red hair, and that was awesome because I know all about pigmentation genetics and the red hair mutation is seriously cool, but also because it had Jenny in it! Yay! I tried to take a picture, but in a typical 21st-century mishap I accidentally took a video. As soon as I realized that, it just captured the audience laughing, so I left it on video:

After all the screenings, there was a Q&A, where I met the other film makers who were present: Zach of PCR Rap, and Daniel and Aron of the Moth and the Firefly. Unlike Zach and I, who made our videos in between lab work, Daniel and Aron were proper film makers. They had screened the Moth and the Firefly at other festivals, but they had never had such a big audience as at ISFF. Eep!

The Q&A was fun. I told the backstory of how I was inspired to make Lab Waste after attending some screenings about garbage at HotDocs (Toronto documentary festival) last year, and then going to the lab an hour later to throw out all those pre-wrapped pipettes. There were a few HotDocs fans in the audience, judging from the whoops when I mentioned it =)

And when that was done, I finally saw Sabbi and we had a drink with Alexis at the bar. They’re planning a London version of the Imagine Science Film Festival for next year, so those of you who are there should definitely go to that.



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Richard P. Grant October 23, 2009 - 9:13 AM

Great stuff, Eva. You didn’t mention _Ginger_ though…
And a lovely profile pic you have there.

Eva Amsen October 23, 2009 - 10:57 AM

I did mention it! It’s right above (and in…) the last video.

Richard P. Grant October 23, 2009 - 11:06 AM

Oh grief. That’s what happens when you read the post before 7 and comment over three hours later.

Eva Amsen October 23, 2009 - 12:23 PM

Interesting. I didn’t know the red hair mutation was related to short-term memory loss. [takes notes]

Jennifer Rohn October 23, 2009 - 12:27 PM

Ginger is available online, I think, but glad no one has put up the link!

Eva Amsen October 23, 2009 - 12:55 PM

Ooooh, I couldn’t find it last night, but now that you confirmed it’s online, I did manage to find it. Won’t link it, though. There are enough videos here already.

Alejandro Correa October 23, 2009 - 1:15 PM

Good videos and images Eva.

Stephen Curry October 23, 2009 - 1:34 PM

_the red hair mutation is seriously cool_
Can I quote you on that in my _cv_?

Eva Amsen October 23, 2009 - 1:42 PM

Ha, sure =)

Sabbi Lall October 23, 2009 - 4:14 PM

Hey, I was one of the whoopers after _Lab Waste_ too! There were quite a few in the area I was sitting in and woman next to me was discussing habit changing afterward too.
_Ginger_ is also one of my favorite movies in the festival- the protagonist is so sweet and Jenny’s really kind to him! I think she’s in the publicity photo for the film on the ISFF website too! Who knew Stephen had red hair?

Stephen Curry October 23, 2009 - 11:33 PM

@Sabbi – _Who knew Stephen had red hair?_
Anyone who has met me. Or watched “my video”:http://network.nature.com/people/scurry/blog/2008/09/21/six-minutes-of-your-life-updated…! 😉

Sabbi Lall October 24, 2009 - 3:18 AM

_Or watched my video…!_
Aha- now I see, thanks!


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