The Future of Science & Film: Reporting back on our CPH:CONFERENCE Day

The Future of Science & Film: Reporting back on our CPH:CONFERENCE Day

Leading documentary festival CPH:DOX had its biggest edition yet this year, drawing over 1,780 international and national industry delegates to the Charlottenborg Palace in Copenhagen. 14 years on since its founding, CPH:DOX has created a global platform for some of the most innovative makers, doers and thinkers in documentary film – a development reflected in the success of its new 5-day industry offering, CPH:CONFERENCE.

We’re proud to have contributed to this event as the curators of the CPH:CONFERENCE Science & Film program on March 21. Driven by our concept of an interdisciplinary, interactive program blending philosophical discussion with actionable advice from industry influencers, we brought together creatives, academics, founders and technologists in science, film, media and education to explore both the toughest challenges and most exciting opportunities in science communication today.

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After an opening address by Danish philosopher and information theorist Vincent Hendricks, Nadja Oertelt, a neuroscientist and digital media innovator, kicked off the conference with a powerful address to the importance of science film for our current cultural and political environment; and award-winning filmmaker Phie Ambo shared insights gained in her 10-year documentary project at the intersection of cutting-edge scientific research and human consciousness, emotion and relationships.

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IMG_3767 Then, it was time to bring delegates together to pool their knowledge and spark discussion. Documentary filmmakers, technologists, students, creatives and scientists in attendance took on the challenge of our Pyramid exercise – a fast-paced interactive session to gather and share ideas about the current state of science film and its future from the perspective of the filmmaker, the scientist, and the viewer.
IMG_3775Hands-on workshops gave audiences both the tools and inspiration needed for new collaborative projects in science film. Author, science communication professor and former evolutionary geneticist David Kirby teamed up with fellow genetics-turned-communications scholar and creative technologist Lomax Boyd to present a workshop on dramatic narratives that bring science to life on film. Creative director and CEO Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya (also with a neuroscience background) led an action-packed interactive workshop on 5 key techniques for emboldening science communication with aesthetics; and local cross-disciplinary research collective The Collaboratorium shared the methods they’d developed for collaboration between creative and scientific disciplines to drive future science film projects. IMG_3868 Industry leaders and entrepreneurs kicked off the afternoon with a series of rapid-fire talks introducing delegates to a range of new opportunities in science film. MIT media researcher, VR developer and BuzzFeed Open Lab Fellow Ainsley Sutherland illustrated the unique potential of emerging interactive and immersive media for science film through a case-study driven guide to new tools and production approaches. Imagine Science Film Festival and Labocine founder Alexis Gambis, along with SciViews editor Thilo Körkel shed light on the new streaming platforms for factual content emerging to give mass audiences access to innovative science films. And, former documentary producer and director Lucy McDowell from forward-thinking global charity Wellcome Trust explained their mission for boosting public debate and understanding of biomedical research through funding initiatives.

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Sonia Epstein, Executive Editor at the Museum of the Moving Image, put the day’s discussions into context with a fascinating exploration of the history of science on film, from Jean Painlevé filming a male seahorse giving birth, to Nicolas Roeg’s Marilyn Monroe demonstrating the theory of relativity, to creative synthesis of scientific ideas in the present day. Finally, science communications and screen studies scholar Amy C. Chambers wrapped up the action-packed program with key recommendations, actionable advice and resources for delegates to take home and kickstart their next endeavour at the intersection of science and film.

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Congratulations to all our speakers for their fantastic work and insightful presentations, and thanks to Documentary Campus for bringing the Science & Film conference day to life!