British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Screening Science

Cardiff sciSCREEN is a cross-disciplinary programme that promotes engagement between science and the academy through audio-visual media, using special screenings of new film releases to draw on a range of disciplinary perspectives and facilitate debate on contemporary developments in science and the wider social and cultural implications of these advances.

About the Author: Dr Andrew Bartlett, Cesagen, Cardiff University, is a research assistant working on the Genomics and Psychiatry research project, jointly funded by Cesagen and the Wales Gene Park.

This March, with a screening and discussion of A Dangerous Method (2012), the film adaptation of Christpher Hampton’s play about Sigmund Freud, Cardiff sciSCREEN will celebrate its second birthday. Born in early 2010 and delivered with the support of the British Science Association, the first events ran as part of Science and Engineering Week. Since that time, with the help of a variety of sponsors and the expertise of speakers from across Cardiff University and beyond, Cardiff sciSCREEN has organised seven events, with twenty-nine different speakers, drawing between sixty and ninety people for each after-film discussion.

Each event involves a regular, ticketed screening of what is usually a current release film, followed by an hour and a half to two hours discussion. Over a glass of wine, between three to five speakers are invited to connect the issues and themes raised by the film to their areas of expertise, before the discussion opens up with the audience offering their reflections, comments and questions.

We wanted to engage with publics around issues of psychiatry and genetics …

The project is the product of collaboration between the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG) and the ESRC Centre for Social and Economic Aspects of Genomics (Cesagen). One of the driving forces behind sciSCREEN is Jamie Lewis, a Research Associate in Public Engagement at the MRC CNGG. Jamie described the rationale for setting it up:

We wanted to engage with publics around issues of psychiatry and genetics and we thought what better way than to use film to provoke interest and ideas. Film gets people talking and we have found the sciSCREEN format an excellent way for academics and publics to come together to discuss developments in science and their social and cultural implications.’

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