• elinor

Review: SCINEMA - International Science Film Festival 2018

While the sports fans were watching the first Origin game, the science fans headed over to Paddington’s Palace Cinema to watch the 2018 winners of SCINEMA.

I went along to see if I could learn something new from these award winning moving pictures.

What is SCINEMA?

SCINEMA was established in 2000 by Australia’s Science Channel, and is the largest science film festival in the southern hemisphere. It is supported by BBC Earth and The University of Queensland.

The goal of SCINEMA is to celebrate science on the big screen; provide filmmakers of all levels a chance to showcase their skills; and, to “satisfy the curious, explain the baffling, and ask the impossible”.

Who were the 2018 SCINEMA Winners?

There were nine winners in all, four of which were homegrown Aussie creations.

There will also be a People’s Choice Award given to the film which receives the most votes, once the national screenings across Australia are over.

Which was your favourite?

Thank you for asking!

My personal favourite was Grassroots, the story of Aussie farmers becoming accidental activists and “carbon capturing climate superheroes”.

The crux of the story is this: Associate Professor Peter McGee’s field of research is in strains of fungi that fix carbon in the atmosphere into a stable part of the soil, improving water and nutrient retention.

McGee was giving one last presentation on his microbial research before he retired, leaving this field to go cold as no one else was looking into it.

Fortunately, Guy Webb, a soil specialist, was at that presentation and saw the opportunity McGee’s research would provide. Webb had spent years looking for a way to improve Australia’s degrading farm soils by increasing stable carbon levels, and McGees work provided the solution.

I enjoyed this film above the others because it provides an excellent example of what can be achieved when research and industry come together to provide solutions to local, and global, problems.

And the people who are doing the work: Aussie farmers!

The journey from research lab, to large production, to everyday use is covered in this 20 minute film.

The farmers themselves only have to make one small change when they’re planting crops, a change they have already made once before: when they started adding nitrogen-fixing bacteria to their seeds.

There are 530 million farmers across the world. If all of them add carbon fixing fungi to their crop seeds come planting time, the amount of carbon removed from the atmosphere would be in gigaton scale.

Final thoughts

All of the films at SCINEMA’s national screenings are interesting, engaging, and thought provoking. If you get the chance to watch them, it is well worth taking the time to do so.

My only concern is that there are no activities, discussions, or breaks. Once you sit down to view the films, there you stay until they have all been shown.

I would like to see these screenings become larger events in future, which include a discussion panel and activities between films. I think it is worth making an attempt to engage more of the general public than just the science enthusiasts among us who enjoy them no matter how they’re presented.

Want to get involved?

During the month of August, you can host your own Community SCINEMA screening as part of National Science Week 2018.

Community Screenings can be held in the pub, at a school, at your local library, or even at home with your friends and family.

You can register to host a screening here.

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