Nerd Alert: TIFF’s 2013 Science on Film Program

Forbidden PlanetWhen I read over the list of films in TIFF’s Science on Film program for 2013, I had a flashback to a decade ago. It was my first year at the University of Toronto, I knew that unless I somehow got really good at astronomy overnight, I had few opportunities to get an easy science credit. But little did I know that the class I chose would end up being one of my favourite courses throughout all of school. The class? Science in Film.

While we focused on all the bad science in movies, we also learned about some of the good science in films. For every Outbreak, there is The Andromeda Strain, for every Armageddon, there is Contact. While it was fun ripping apart the pseudo-science in some of the worst examples, it was fascinating learning about the films that really tried to get it right, or non-science-fiction films that relied on scientific studies, experts or research to support their stories. While it may offer a challenge to a screenwriter to include actual NASA jargon in a film like Apollo 13 (for example), the level of authenticity is not lost on audiences any more.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

In a similar vein, TIFF’s Science on Film program is a unique forum for the combination of film, discussion and analysis, without any papers to write! It provides a really great opportunity to meet major minds in the science community in a small, intimate venue, with plenty of time for conversation afterwards. However, I still went to see Robert J. Sawyer chat about The Day the Earth Stood Still last year and was too nervous to talk to him. So if you’re less of a wimp than me, you’ll do fine.

Have you ever wondered about the plausibility of the genetic engineering in the recent prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes? Or wondered about how realistic the depiction of NASA astronauts was in Apollo 13? What about the ways that workaholism, displacement and travel can affect the psyche of a person, such as in George Clooney’s Up in the Air? This year’s slate of scientific experts include: Canadian astronaut (and Olympic flag carrier) Julie Payette, Hugo Award winning science fiction author Robert Charles Wilson, Animal Planet host and predatory animal expert Dave Salmoni, renowned epidemiologist Dr. Allison McGeer, and more. Head down and join Discovery Channel host Jay Ingram as he introduces and moderates the discussion after the film.

Tickets for individual dates in the series are on sale now. Visit TIFF’s Science on Film page for more details about each screening.

Full TIFF Science on Film Program:
Wednesday, February 27 – Stephen Scherer on Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Wednesday, March 27 – Barbara Killinger on Up in the Air
Wednesday, April 10 – Allison McGeer on Contagion
Wednesday, May 8 – Julie Payette on Apollo 13
Wednesday, June 5 – Robert Charles Wilson on Forbidden Planet
Wednesday, June 26 – Dave Salmoni on Cat People

Hope to see you there!

Photo credits: (top) Forbidden Planet by PhotoFest; (bottom) Rise of the Planet of the Apes by PhotoFest.

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