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Coolidge goes national with Science on Screen

Posted by Joel Brown  January 17, 2011 02:51 PM

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Leon_Theremin_0 The indie/arthouse/revival theater scene is not what it was for movie fans back in the day - shed optional tear for the Orson Welles here - but Boston still has some smart programmers. Exhibit A: The Coolidge Corner Theatre's Science on Screen program will spread to other non-profit moviehouses this year thanks to a $150,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Now in its seventh year, Science on Screen pairs feature films and documentaries with presentations by scientific and technological experts. It makes learning fun and sometimes draws a sellout crowd. Discussions have ranged from a talk by MIT music-and-media guru Tod Machover with the documentary "Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey" (right) to an explanation of the function of zombie brains in "Night of the Living Dead."

On Wednesday at the fourth annual Art House Convergence gathering in Utah, just before the Sundance festival, Coolidge leaders will announce a program to provide $7,000 grants to six to eight theaters that want to implement Science on Screen on their, well, screens. The money can be used to rent films or to pay for speaker honoraria or travel expenses, since not every community theater has institutions like MIT and MGH close at hand. The money can also be used for marketing, staff time or other costs associated with the program.

The theaters must present a minimum of three Science on Screen events during the year, and are expected to pitch at least one program idea of their own. The Coolidge is distributing a sort of Science on Screen how-to guide and will mentor them along the way; the grant will also support the program at the Coolidge.

Full_Metal_Jacket_1987_7 All this comes about thanks to the Sloan Foundation's program for improving public understanding of science and technology through the media.

The Coolidge's next Science on Screen presentation will feature Dr. Jonathan Shay, who will introduce Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket" (left) on Jan. 24 with a talk on combat trauma. Shay was a staff psychiatrist at the Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Boston, where he treated combat veterans with severe psychological injuries. He retired from clinical work to devote himself full time to prevention shortly after winning a 2007 MacArthur Foundation genius grant.

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Joel Brown is a regular contributor to The Boston Globe and writes the blog. Catch his tweets between posts at More »

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