Opening up world of science to all

Is there a fun way to learn about science? The Second International Science Film Festival, which will take place at the Hellenic American Union from April 17 to 22, is about to prove that science is accessible to all. The event, which will feature 36 films from all over the world, is organized by CAID (Center of Applied Industrial Design) in collaboration with the Hellenic American Union, which also hosted the first science film festival in May last year. «The films that will be screened are not just documentaries. They are closer to the art of filmmaking. This festival is a fun way to comprehend scientific matters,» said Giorgos Zarkadakis, the former editor of Focus magazine, at a recent press conference. Films from the UK, Austria, Canada, France, Senegal, Japan, Brazil, Denmark, Belgium, New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands, the USA and Greece will be screened at the six-day event, which is under the aegis of, and funded by, the Ministry of Culture. As Valentini Avgetidou, festival coordinator, explained, the films will cover a large variety of topics: From medicine, genetics and biology to new technologies and even a scientific analysis of infidelity, the films, whose duration ranges from five to 30 minutes, will cater to all tastes. A nine-member committee, consisting of six foreign and three Greek acclaimed scientists, will give prizes to seven of the 36 films, which in turn have been selected of 80 initial applications. «There will be mainly two criteria in the prize selection. On the one hand, it is important for the films to maintain the validity of their scientific content when trying to convey their message in a more cinematic language. On the other, what is also important is the creativity and inventiveness used in turning scientific facts into cinema,» said Dimitris Potamianos, head of the committee. The prizes, which will be given on April 22, also include an Audience Award. Internationally distinguished theoretical physicist Dimitris Nanopoulos as well as Melanie Wallace, who won last year with her film about Einstein, will be present at the awards ceremony. Potamianos also pointed out that the films are addressed to both a wider audience as well as the scientific community and that they are not too simplified to take part in the dialogue between scientists. Introductions This year, finalists of the Famelab competition for young scientists have been asked to make short introductions before the screening of each film. Organized by the British Council, the competition is about science communication (conveying science to a broader audience in a fun way) and its final round is scheduled to take place tonight. «The festival takes place so that science can reach everyone. People must learn that their life is science. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to understand as scientists use their own language,» said CAID director Fouli Leandri. «Some scientists are against the simplification of scientific terminology, but I find that unfair. Science belongs to everyone and the closer it is to the people, the better it is for the scientists,» she continued. «Scientific matters concern society and society is obliged to participate in the scientific procedure as an evaluator,» added Zarkadakis. «People can only evaluate with an open mind and understanding how science works is the only way to have an open mind.» CAID will later organize a seminar on science communication, which will teach the art of making science films. The seminar is considered a continuation of the festival. April 17-22, Hellenic American Union, 22 Massalias, Kolonaki. Admission is free. For information: tel 210.725.1893,

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