Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria receives grant to study the use of science in film

Photo: Peter Aaron/Esto. Courtesy of Museum of Moving Image.

Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) was awarded a grant last week to support and develop Sloan Science & Film, an initiative that will examine how science is presented in film as well as the science of film.

“Film is one of the most accessible of all media, a powerful form of storytelling, and with science contested in new ways in today’s climate, we are thrilled to continue this important work,” said Sonia Epstein, Sloan Science & Film’s executive editor.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a grant-giving nonprofit that supports research and education related to science, technology, engineering, mathematics and economics, agreed to give MoMI a ” three-year $440,000 grant” for the initiative, according to a press release from the museum.

The grant will allow Sloan Science & Film to add more in-depth analytical content online at scienceandfilm.org and live events at the museum.

Currently, the website publishes interviews with filmmakers and scientists covering festivals and other film-related events along with a regular series called “Peer Review.” The series commissions research scientists to write about scientific topics are presented in mainstream cinema.

Past commissioned writers have included Associate Professor of Linguistics at McGill University Jessica Coon and environmental scientist Kim Knowlton. Coon helped actress Amy Adams prepare for her role as an alien-language translator in “Arrival”and Knowlton has written about Paul Schrader’s “First Reformed” which touches on the intersection of faith and climate change.

Now with the new funds, Sloan Science & Film’s website will be able to catalogue all film projects that have received support from the Sloan Foundation’s nationwide film program — over 600 to date — and build out a freely accessible streaming library of Sloan-supported short, science-based, narrative films.

In addition, Sloan Science & Film will create educational guides for these films for elementary, middle and high school students. The grant will also allow for the continuation of the Science of Screen film series, which pairs rarely screened films with conversations between researchers and filmmakers.

The grant is funded through Sloan Foundation’s Public Understanding of Science & Technology program which aims “give people a keener appreciation for the increasingly scientific and technological world in which we live and to convey some of the challenges and rewards of the scientific and technological enterprise.”