Traverse City Record-Eagle

August 10, 2012

Films paired with science experts

By lisa perkins

TRAVERSE CITY — What is a better accompaniment to a film about a man-eating plant than a scientist talking about carnivorous flora?

The State Theatre will be making unexpected pairings of film and renowned scientific experts with the help of a grant from the Science on Screen program.

Roger Corman's "The Little Shop of Horrors" introduced by Aaron Ellison, a senior research fellow at Harvard University and co-author of "Ecophysiological traits of terrestrial and aquatic carnivorous plants: are the costs and benefits the same?" was part of last year's lineup offered by Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation's program.

After last year's successful pilot program awarding grants to eight theaters, the foundation received a $150,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to expand Science on Screen to independent cinemas nationwide.

The State Theatre is one of 20 independent locations to receive a $7,000 grant.

"We are really excited to be able to bring Science on Screen to Traverse City. We are going to make it awesome," said Deb Lake, executive director of the Traverse City Film Festival and State Theatre.

Lake said the State hopes to begin screenings sometime in October.

"Each location will be able to choose their screenings and are required to show at least three films," said Beth Gilligan, associate director of development, marketing and outreach for The Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation in Boston.

Science on Screen creatively pairs screenings of classic, cult, and documentary films with lively introductions by notable figures from the world of science, technology and medicine.

Each film is used as a jumping-off point for the speaker to reveal current scientific research or technological advances, providing the perfect combination of entertainment and education.

"Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure," the story of two dudes doomed to flunk out of school unless they travel back through time to learn from historical figures was paired with MIT professor Edward Farhi, speaking on the physical feasibility of time travel. And Virginia Kimonis, an expert in clinical biochemical genetics, introduced "The Elephant Man."

Pairings for the upcoming season have not yet been announced.