When you hear the words “environmental film fest,” the first image that pops into your head is probably one of serious-looking people watching serious-looking documentaries. What you might not imagine is a room full of children watching an animated krill talking about ocean pollution. But if you were lucky enough to attend the 19th Annual Environmental Film Festival’s “Smart Creatures” presentation, that’s exactly what you’d see.
Could improvisational theater help scientists communicate more effectively? If Alan Alda has anything to say about it, yes.
The renowned actor, writer, and director has been a loyal, devoted friend of science, long before he played Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H. From 1993 to 2005, Alda hosted Scientific American Frontiers for PBS, which he called “the best thing I ever did in front of a camera.” In 2001, he played physicist Richard Feynman in the play QED and in 2010, he hosted The Human Spark, an award-winning documentary that delved into everything that makes us human. Alda has also helped promote New York City’s annual science festival and recently wroteRadiance, a play about the life of Madame Curie.
If you’ve ever watched Bravo’s Top Chef or any show on the Food Network, you know cooking is an art form. It’s a dance in the kitchen, a painting on a plate – it’s making the mere sight of food part of the joy of eating. And if you’ve ever tried your hand at a recipe and something went horribly, horribly wrong, you know cooking is a science. Well, now there’s a new television show that brings together the art and science of cooking: Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen.
In March, a new film hits theaters. It’s a courageous tale of a single mother, forced out of her home and fighting for survival. No, it’s not a little-known indie film or a critics’ darling. In fact, the main characters in the film don’t even speak – well, unless you count roaring as speaking. That’s right; the films’ “actors” are cats, lions to be exact.
The Last Lions, released by National Geographic Movies, follows the journey of lioness Ma di Tau (“Mother of Lions”) as she struggles to survive and care for her cubs after she loses her mate and is cast out by a rival pride. It’s a dramatic and suspenseful story – a story with the aspiration to raise awareness of the declining lion population (from 450,000 to 20,000 during the last 50 years) and to increase support for conservation.
A beetle is flying through the air, wings buzzing as it moves forward, and then – suddenly – it falls to the ground. Then the wings start up again, the beetle is back in the air – then again, the wings halt and the beetle lands on the floor. It’s almost as though it’s being controlled by a remote, flying and dropping out of the air as if someone were pushing the “Start” and “Stop” buttons over and over again.