Premiering the six films made by scientist-filmmaker pairs
Presented by Science Sandbox!

NEW LAB (Brooklyn) / OCT 22 / 7PM
The 2021 Symbiosis Competition
Our yearly short film Symbiosis competition, presented by Science Sandbox, is happening once again at the 14th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival.

Symbiosis will bring together scientists and filmmakers to create a science-inspired short film themed Resistance over the course of one week.
Symbiosis 2021 Pairs
SYMBIOSIS is supported by Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation dedicated to inspiring a deeper interest in science, especially among those who don't think of themselves as science enthusiasts. They support and collaborate with programs that unlock scientific thinking in everyone.

Meet the Symbiosis 2021 Participants!
Jaime Jover
Jaime Jover works in the field of urban geography, with specializations in critical theory, historic preservation, and urban tourism. He is the Marilyn J. Gittell Post-Doctoral Fellow in Urban Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has previously held post-doctoral positions in Portugal, Spain, and the UK.
Farah Abdul-Rahman
Farah Abdul-Rahman is a microbiology PhD graduate from New York University. She studies how baker's yeast adapts to changes in food availability. She enjoys thinking of ways to communicate science broadly and she most recently has experimented with cartooning and chocolate molding.
Gav Sturm
Gav Sturm is a bioengineer using 3D animation to simulate the structure and dynamics of cells. I think a lot about mitochondria and how these ancient symbiotic bacterial communities age and evolve with us. I am passionate about entangling art and science for the emergence of new perspectives on the nature of our reality.
Jahnavi Phalkey
Jahnavi Phalkey is a filmmaker and historian of science and technology. Formerly at the India Institute, she is now the Founding Director of Science Gallery Bengaluru. She was a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (2013-14), following which she was on secondment to the Science Museum London as an external curator (2013-2015). Jahnavi is the author of 'Atomic State: Big Science in Twentieth Century India' (2013) and has recently co-edited 'Science of Giants: China and India in the Twentieth Century' (2016). She is on the editorial board for the British Journal for the History of Science and History and Technology. She is director of the documentary film Cyclotron (2017).
Arianna Zuanazzi
Arianna Zuanazzi is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Professor David Poeppel at New York University (New York, USA) and a Leon Levy Neuroscience Fellow 2020-2022. She is interested in exploring the links between theoretical linguistics and neurobiology. In particular, her research focuses on how the brain processes incoming speech signals and generates representations at different levels of complexity, i.e., words, phrases and sentences. Furthermore, she is interested in the contribution of memory, attention and expectation to language processing.
Miraflor Santos
Miraflor Santos is a Filipino-American PhD Student in biological oceanography at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Joint Program. She studies the ecological resilience of open ocean food webs.
Yashaswini Raghunandan
Yashaswini Raghunandan works with both film and sound to build narratives in the form of docu-fiction as a way to think about the present. Her recent film 'That Cloud Never Left,' has been screened at various national and international festivals. She also had a sound based solo show at an artist run space in Marwan, Amsterdam this year.
Lavado Stubbs
Lavado Stubbs is a filmmaker born in Nassau, Bahamas. He developed a cinematic style rooted in Bahamian culture to bring the world a visual style that has yet to be seen before. In 2014, he received the Bahamian Icon Award and firmly establish his place in his country's history.
Nate Dorr
Nate Dorr is photographer, filmmaker, and science communicator based in Brooklyn. He studied neuroscience, but also documented DIY music for Impose Magazine, curated short and experimental films for the Brooklyn Film Festival, and served as Director of Programming for the Imagine Science Film Festival. A winding path took him from laboratory neuroscience, through photography to science film curation, then fully into filmmaking.
Ariel Martínez Herrera
Ariel Martinez Herrera is an Argentinian director, producer, and visual artist. He has directed Toxic (2020), Alas (pobre Jiménez) (2010) and Cúmulo & Nimbo (2014).
Laurie Sumiye
Laurie Sumiye is an environmental artist and storyteller focused on Hawaiian endangered species. She has screened her award-winning films at DOCNYC, BAMcinemaFest and PS1MoMA and awarded residencies and fellowships with Sundance Institute, Firelight Documentary Lab, Blue Mountain Center, Digital Artist Studios (N. Ireland), Sacatar Institute (Brazil) and Artfunkl (UK) & UnionDocs Center for Documentary Arts. Laurie received an MFA in Integrated Media Arts from CUNY Hunter College, BA in Art & BS in Communications from Bradley University, currently serves as Assistant Professor of Film/Transmedia at the University of Hawai'i-West O'ahu.
Isabelle Carbonell
Isabelle Carbonell is a Belgian-Uruguayan-American award-winning documentary filmmaker and a PhD Candidate at the University of California, Santa Cruz thinking through a cinema of the anthropocene. Her work lies at the intersection of expanded documentary, environmental justice, invasive species, eco-disasters, multispecies ethnography, and "the possibility of life in capitalist ruins".
Films are created over the course of our festival, October 15-22.

On opening night, October 15th, 6 filmmakers and 6 scientists will be paired up and sent off into the city to begin filmmaking with a $2,500 stipend in hand.

The pairs will meet on Monday, October 18th for our Symbiosis Lab Meeting and speak about their art/science works-in-progress. The audience will provide feedback, and all final films will be screened on our closing night, October 22, when a winner will be selected!

The theme of this year's Symbiosis Competition is RESISTANCE.

We're currently living in a time where resistance seems to be part of our everyday life. The act of swimming against the current but not for futile reasons but to spark change and awareness. For our 14th annual festival, we will be exploring the act of resisting from the micro to the macro level. What does it mean mean to withstand opposing forces that sometimes feel overwhelming? How does resistance measures a material's ability to resist the flow of electrons through it? How do organisms resist harmful influences such as disease, toxic agents or infection?

    The Symbiosis 2021 Jury
    Sophie Tintori
    Symbiosis Director, Geneticist
    Sophia is the Symbiosis Director involved in the seleciton and mentoring of the teams this year. She is a research biologist and sometimes also an animator and science filmmaker. She is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at NYU, studying the genetics that contribute to the differences in radiation response among animals. As a filmmaker Sophia has created animated videos in many settings, including a pop-science series, educational workshops, college-level classroom materials, scientific grant applications, and documentary film.
    Melissa Ferrari
    Melissa took part in Symbiosis 2020 with scientist Meilin Fernandez Garcia. Together, their film "Fathomless" took home the Symbiosis prize presented by Science Sandbox. Melissa is a nonfiction filmmaker, experimental animation artist & magic lanternist. Her practice engages with the politics of contemporary pseudoscience and skepticism, the history of phantasmagoria and documentary, and the mythification of science. Melissa's films and magic lantern performances have been shown internationally in venues such as the Ottawa International Animation Festival, Hauser & Wirth, and Ann Arbor Film Festival.
    Ipek Ensari
    Researcher, Data Scientist
    Ipek took part in Symbiosis 2020 with filmmaker Camille Hollett-French. Together, their film "Endomic" has been touring festivals worldwide. Ipek integrates mobile Health and machine learning approaches to investigate "enigmatic" disease characterization and its self-management based on patient self-tracking (i.e., participatory research). She leverages patient-generated and passively collected data from wearables and sensors to look at fluctuations in diseases with a dynamic course (e.g., endometriosis) that occurs both across patients and across time, and efficient techniques for personalizing exercise recommendations delivered through smartphone apps.
    Rules & Guidelines
    The SYMBIOSIS Film Competition challenges 6 team pairs comprised of both scientists and filmmakers to create a short film in just 1 week.

    Participants will have 8 days to write, shoot, edit, and score their films. They are asked to follow the guidelines below or else they will not be eligible for the award:

    All creative work must take place within the "1 Week Time Period".

    Any work created in advance of the competition period will be prohibited. This includes scriptwriting, shooting, costume & set design, Use of preexisting footage. Specific requests should be forwarded to us at

    Participants are allowed to announce their involvement starting September 15. Note that participants are only paired during the festival. The only initial preparation that may be started prior to the festival includes the following: Securing Equipment, Finding Possible Crew/Cast, Scouting/Securing Locations.

    Filmmakers and scientists will be given stipends of $2500 per pair. This can be used for cast/crew, equipment, location and any other production-related costs. The stipend will be provided on the first day of production. Production costs cannot exceed this allotted stipend. Decisions on how to use these funds must be decided together as a team. We will request an itemized list of costs with receipts. Any money not spent should returned after production. Any equipment items purchased must be returned to Imagine Science after the competition.

    Both the scientist & filmmaker should work equally in all aspects of production and be engaged in the process together. They will be asked to talk about their collaboration several times. This will be a factor in choosing the winning the film.

    Participants must attend all three open key dates: Opening Night (Oct 15), Lab meeting & Reception (Oct 18), and Closing Night (October 22). A no show will automatically disqualify you from the final award. Certain exceptions are possible upon request.

    The virtual format of this year's festival encourages us to play with both the format of collaboration and the format of the final projects. Startle us, surprise us, amaze us! We particularly love films that defy categorization: not just inventive documentary and gripping scientific fiction but fictional documentaries, raw lab data aesthetics, thought-provoking experimental film, personal essay narratives, and innovative animation! We also provide a unique opportunity for sci-art collaboration: not only where scientists and filmmakers work together, but also scientists making their films and artists conducting their own scientific experiments. It's all very open-ended.

    The entrant shall not distribute or advertise their film in any way during the competition period.

    Films belong to the filmmaker/scientist and can be shared online after the competition. Imagine Science Films reserves the right to showcase the film on science video platform LABOCINE after the competition.
    Awards & Jury
    Please see below for up to date Jury bios and awards!

    All participants get a free pass to all events of the 14th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival.

    The winning pair will receive a $1,500 cash prize.

    All six films will be aired in a dedicated Labocine Spotlight after the festival until the end of October and featured on the Imagine Science Films News Sections.

    Symbiosis applications will be accepted through August 15th. Participants and jury to be announced by the end of September. Stay tuned!
    Key Dates
    October 15 – Six filmmakers and six scientists are announced on the Opening Night of the 14th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival!
    October 18 – Lab Meeting with all participants who will present their work-in-progress to a panel of jurors and the public.
    October 22 – Films are screened and the winner is announced on the Closing Night of 14th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival!
    About Science Sandbox
    Science Sandbox is dedicated to inspiring a deeper interest in science, especially among those who don't think of themselves as science enthusiasts. We support and collaborate with programs that unlock scientific thinking in everyone. Science Sandbox is an initiative of the Simons Foundation.

    Our partnerships invite a wide audience to engage in the scientific process — a process defined by curiosity, contingent upon asking questions, and informed by reliable evidence — to find solutions to everyday problems. Funded projects include film and other media productions, informal education experiences, live science events and awareness campaigns.

    Our funding criteria reflects our belief in the positive effects of infusing the culture with scientific thinking. We seek grantees who bring science to the people, tell science stories in innovative ways, and make science relevant to everyday life.
    Symbiosis animation from our friends at Rooftop Animation below!
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