The Science on Screen® program pairs screenings of classic, cult, science fiction, and documentary films with lively presentations by notable experts from the world of science and technology. Each film is used as a jumping-off point for a speaker to introduce current research or technological advances in a manner that engages audiences of all backgrounds.
Science on Screen is an initiative of the Coolidge Corner Theatre, with major support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Tickets are FREE thanks to our free ticketing program PFS On Us, though donations to Philadelphia Film Society are welcome.
Gettin’ Schooled: Social Behavior in Fish
A FISH CALLED WANDA
CHARLES CHRICHTON | UK, USA | 1988 | 108 MIN
May 7 | 7:00 PM | Philadelphia Film Center Black Box
Fish are highly social animals, spending most of their time with groups of other fish. However, fish must choose their shoal-mates wisely, as the costs of swimming with the wrong group could be deadly. In this talk, Dr. Scott McRobert will discuss his research on shoaling behavior in fish and the factors that influence a fish’s choice of social group.
In this classic comedy, Wanda isn’t just the moniker of the titular fish; it’s also the name of a saucy criminal (Jamie Lee Curtis), whose powers of seduction are matched only by her wits. Kicking things off, a motley team of criminals including quick-witted Wanda, her trigger-happy “brother” Otto (Kevin Kline), and stuttering animal lover Ken (Michael Palin) assembles in London to pull off a daring jewel heist. After their leader lands in jail with the loot nowhere to be found, the schemers are thrown into a madcap melee of double-crossing and deceit. Wanda attempts to gain intel on whereabouts of the stolen jewels by bedding a sexually repressed barrister (John Cleese), but risks upsetting the jealous (and potentially insane) Otto. Combining some of the brightest comedic talents from boths sides of the pond, A Fish Called Wanda is both wickedly smart and absurdly silly. Just don’t call it stupid.
About the Speaker:
Scott McRobert is a professor of biology at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. His research involves examination of the genetic, ecological, and evolutionary foundations of animal behavior. His Biodiversity Laboratory, which resembles a small zoo, houses hundreds of insects, fish, amphibians, and reptiles, and includes assurance colonies of rare and critically endangered species. Dr. McRobert has published over 75 research articles, and his work has been profiled on 60 Minutes and in the journals Science, Nature, and New Scientist.
Biology on Tap
RICK MORANIS, DAVE THOMAS | CANADA, USA | 1983 | 90 MIN
May 16 | 7:00 PM | Philadelphia Film Center Black Box
Biology professor and beer scientist Dr. Matthew Farber explores the remarkable processes that turn humble ingredients into one of the world’s most beloved beverages.
Originating as characters on SCTV (Canada’s answer to Saturday Night Live), dopey brothers Bob and Doug McKenzie (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas) quickly caught on in the Great White Way and abroad, lodging a particular brand of hockey-loving Canadian yokel into the cultural imagination. Their inspired idiocy comes to the big screen in this hilarious romp, which finds the McKenzie brothers on an quest for free beer that variously involves flying dogs, vengeful ghosts, and brainwashed mental patients. Along the way they also stumble upon a plot by Brewmeister Smith (Max von Sydow), an evil genius intent on turning the world’s population into violent drones by lacing bottles of beer with mind control drugs. Luckily for the fate of mankind, our unlikely heroes have never encountered a hairy situation that they can’t drink their way out of (literally), and their bumbling adventures make Strange Brew a cult classic only a complete hoser would miss.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Matthew Farber, Assistant Professor of Biology, is the founder and director of the Brewing Science Certificate program at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. His research focuses on innovative applications of biotechnology for the improvement of beer production, and he is an inventor on two provisional patents related to beer quality. Dr. Farber is the co-author of Mastering Brewing Science: Beer Production and Quality to be published in Fall 2019 by Wiley. He received a PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Pittsburgh. He loves beer foam and dislikes “juicy” as a beer descriptor.
Sexuality Research in Society Today
BILL CONDON | USA | 2004 | 118 MIN
May 29 | 7:00 PM | Philadelphia Film Center Black Box
Experts from Widener University’s Center for Human Sexuality Studies discuss how the field of sexuality studies has evolved since the Kinsey era.
This Oscar-nominated film chronicles the work of researcher Alfred Kinsey, whose groundbreaking studies reshaped the ways we think about human sexuality. While teaching at Indiana University, Kinsey (Liam Neeson) meets free-thinking Clara McMillen (Laura Linney) and falls in love. As he discovers his own sexuality, Kinsey becomes aware of the surprising lack of data on human sexual habits. With a team of eager young researchers, Kinsey embarks on an ambitious study to combat the prudishness of the era by getting ordinary Americans to talk about their sex lives in intimate detail. Though the publication of Kinsey’s findings turns him into an international celebrity, it also turns him into a lightning rod for controversy, as Kinsey is labeled everything from a pervert to a communist subversive. Providing fascinating insight into Kinsey’s process, the film also offers a moving portrait of a man whose forward-thinking ideals led to a complicated personal life.
About the Speakers:
Justin Sitron is associate professor and director of the Center for Human Sexuality Studies at Widener University. Dr. Sitron’s perspective is rooted in an appreciation of sexual diversity, community-focused programming, and intercultural sensitivity. He regularly trains human service and medical professionals to incorporate a sexual rights and social justice approach in their practice, and works to help people improve their responsiveness to worldviews that challenge their own.
Dr. Brooke Wells is an Associate Professor and Associate Director of the Interdisciplinary Sexuality Research Collaborative at Widener University’s Center for Human Sexuality Studies. With a background in social psychology, Brooke conducts research in four primary areas: HIV prevention; sexual cultures and communities; sexual violence; and substance use and abuse. She has published in a range of academic journals, presented at conferences around the world, and has talked to the media extensively about her work. Brooke is also the director of the PhD program in Human Sexuality Studies, where she supports and collaborates with students as they learn about and conduct sexuality research.
Javontae Lee Williams, MPH, is an Applied Research Scientist at the Interdisciplinary Sexuality Research Collaborative at Widener University. He manages a grant-funded sexuality education project for Black men in Baltimore and Jackson, Mississippi. His research explores the racial, gender, age, and cultural factors that influence black men’s health, particularly regarding their well-being and aging. Javontae is known as a dynamic speaker nationwide, and his work has been featured in popular media outlets like National Public Radio, Philadelphia Weekly, and TheBody.com among others.
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