IFI to host season looking at the science behind science fiction

23 Mar 2016

A scene for 2001: A Space Odyssey. Image via IFI

Through a partnership with Science Gallery Dublin, the Irish Film Institute (IFI) is to host a season called Futures Past, which will ask experts to explain the real science behind science fiction.

Science fiction remains one of the most-loved genres for moviegoers due to the almost unlimited capacity for creativity and outside-the-box thinking on where our current levels of technology and science could one day go.

In some cases, science fiction has often preceded and led to science fact, both in the home and in scientific research, perhaps most recently seen with Nike’s decision to launch a pair of shoes based on the self-tying shoes seen in Back to the Future II.

And now Science Gallery Dublin and the IFI have decided to partner up to select some cult classic science fiction films and get some of Ireland’s leading science communicators to assess just how prescient these filmmakers were, to explore the accuracy of their visions, and to take the measure of how relevant the themes expressed remain today.

Kicking off the Futures Past season will be Val Guest’s apocalyptic 1961 disaster drama The Day the Earth Caught Fire, which is eerily reminiscent of our own concerns about climate change, and will be discussed by Oisin Coughlan (Friends of the Earth) and Diarmuid Torney (lecturer in international relations, DCU) before the screening.

Propelling you to another place

In total, 10 films will be shown, starting on 6 April and running until 27 April, including the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey (shown on 70mm film), Metropolis, Silent Running and Soylent Green, each of which will have its own talks beforehand on their themes.

Speaking of the season, Lynn Scarff, director of Science Gallery Dublin, said: “Great movies captivate, they make you lose track of time and propel you to another place.

“Science Gallery Dublin is delighted to partner with IFI on this series – it’s a fantastic opportunity to bring together creative minds from a variety of disciplines to discuss how speculative science fiction in film has enabled us, as viewers, to try on a range of speculative futures.

“Most of all it brings the compelling world of science and cinema together for an entertaining evening.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic