Ann Arbor's non-profit center for fine film and the performing arts

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Science on Screen Archive


This series creatively paired screenings of classic, cult, and documentary films with lively introductions by notable figures from the world of science, technology, and medicine.  Each film was used as a jumping off point for the speaker to reveal current scientific research or technological advances, providing the perfect combination of entertainment and enlightenment – even for the most science-phobic culture vulture!

Science on Screen is supported by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in partnership with the Coolidge Corner Theatre.






























 Particle Fever


 Steel Magnolias


 The Cutting Edge


 Project Ice






Robinson Crusoe on MarsRobinson Crusoe

January 9, 2013.

This screening featured a presentation afterward from Dr. Nilton Renno, UM Professor of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences and a member of the NASA team that discovered water on Mars.

This 1964 sci-fi camp-fest, adapted from Daniel Defoe’s classic tale, follows Commander Christopher ‘Kit’ Draper (Paul Mantee) and Colonel Dan McReady (Adam West), the crew of Mars Gravity Probe 1, as they hurtle towards Mars. When an imminent collision with a meteor forces the crew to use the last of the fuel, they have no choice but to eject to the surface and become the first men on Mars…or are they?

110 minutes. Not rated.




February 6, 2013.

This screening featured a presentation afterward from UM musicology professor Dr. Mark Clague about the technological advancements in music recording. Dr. Clague studies all forms of music-making in the United States, especially in Chicago, focusing on the functional aesthetic of music and the relationship between music and society. He serves as Executive Editor for Music of the United States of America (MUSA), a scholarly series of critical scores representing the diversity and excellence of composition in the United States.

Janet McTeer follows up her Oscar-nominated performance in Tumbleweeds (1999) with this period drama set during the 1910s. Dr. Lily Penleric (McTeer), an uptight musicologist, is furious after getting denied tenure again at an elite all-male East Coast university. She promptly quits out of protest, and having nowhere else to go, she joins her sister in a remote mountain school. Her high-minded, refined ways quickly clash with the locals, yet her academic interests are piqued when she realizes that this bucolic mountain culture is thoroughly infused with music that harkens back to traditional English and Scottish folk ballads. After retrieving some tools, including a primitive recording device, from the East Coast, she sets out collecting songs. The locals react with a mixture of amusement, bafflement, and suspicion. Meanwhile, a mining company is strong-arming the impoverished residences into selling their coal-rich land for a pittance. Lily soon realizes that the culture she’s seeking to preserve is quickly being torn asunder. Aidan Quinn and David Patrick Kelly also appear in this film, which was screened at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi

109 minutes. Rated PG-13.



Best in ShowBest in Show

March 13, 2013.

This screening featured a presentation afterward from Dr. Camille Ward, a UM Lecturer in Biopsychology who teaches a seminar on dog cognition, behavior, and welfare. Dr. Ward is also a board-certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and the owner of About Dogs LLC. Dr. Ward discussed the cognition and the development of social behavior in domestic dogs, as well as human-canine communication.

Our friends from the Humane Society of Huron Valley were also at the event with an adoptable dog and animal adoption information.

This mockumentary follows five dog owners (including Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Coolidge, Michael McKean, Parker Posey, and director Christopher Guest) as they compete in the Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show.

90 minutes. Rated PG.




April 3, 2013.

After the film, UM physics professor Dr. Brad Orr answered questions like, “Ever wonder why a curve ball drops?” and “What happens at the crack of a bat?”.

More about the film: Based on a true story, Moneyball is a movie for anybody who has ever dreamed of taking on the system. Brad Pitt stars as Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A’s and the guy who assembles the team, who has an epiphany: all of baseball’s conventional wisdom is wrong. Forced to reinvent his team on a tight budget, Beane will have to outsmart the richer clubs. The onetime jock teams with Ivy League grad Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) in an unlikely partnership, recruiting bargain players that the scouts call flawed, but all of whom have an ability to get on base, score runs, and win games. It’s more than baseball, it’s a revolution – one that challenges old school traditions and puts Beane in the crosshairs of those who say he’s tearing out the heart and soul of the game.

2011. 113 minutes. PG-13.