The Symbiosis Competition
Our yearly short film competition is happening once again at the 10th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival. Symbiosis will bring together scientists and filmmakers to create a science-inspired short film themed Hybrid-Identity over the course of one week.

See all the films, and the winners, here.
Apply to the 2018 Symbiosis Competition here.
This project is supported by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science.

Announcing the Symbiosis Participants!
Alexandra Grote
Alexandra Grote is a PhD candidate at New York University where she studies parasitic nematodes. Trained as a molecular biologist, she is seeking to incorporate computational biology into the study of host-pathogen interactions for the development of novel drug therapies. She received her BA in Integrative Biology from UC Berkeley where she studied fungal biology and ecology. She then moved on to study the biophysics of bacterial cell growth and movement at Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science before pursuing her PhD.
Joel Simon
Joel Simon studied Computer Science and Art before getting involved in bioinformatics. At Rockefeller University he works on developing computational tools to analyze the immune system. He is very interested in the intersection between biology, computer science, and design. Outside of the lab, Joel develops virtual evolution simulations. When not on the computer, he designs and builds lamps, which he will barter for artwork.
Merritt Moore
Merritt Moore is a professional ballet dancer and quantum physicist. She has danced as a member of the Zurich Ballet, Boston Ballet, English National Ballet and London Contemporary Ballet Theatre while graduating honors in physics at Harvard, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Quantum Optics at Oxford University. Recently she has been an astronaut candidate on BB2 "Astronauts: Do you have what it takes?" TV series.

Merritt has received numerous awards and aspires to show young students that there is no 'standard' personality or set path towards pursuing ones goals.
Campbell Watson
Campbell Watson is an atmospheric scientist with IBM Research and The Weather Company, where he helps build new models in environmental monitoring and remediation. He holds a PhD in atmospheric science from the University of Melbourne (2013) and completed his postdoctoral research at Yale University (2013–2015). Campbell recently completed a six month Fellowship at New Lab, care of Science Sandbox, where he worked on his pet project, Weather for the People. He's spoken about the mysteries of cumulus clouds over Dominica at a pub in Brooklyn, and written about the strangeness of surfing a man-made wave in the heart of Texas.
Ramin Rahni
Ramin Rahni is a biology graduate student at New York University, studying regeneration in plant roots. Using live imaging, he makes tiny time lapse films of growing and regenerating roots to try and understand how a root (re)assembles itself. When he's not at the microscope, he splits his time between playing music and creating animated explainers of biological concepts. He is godfather to many cats across Brooklyn.
Huayi Wei
Huayi Wei is pursuing her doctorate in Neuroscience at New York University. Through her current research, she aims to understand the biological circuits that allow us to see things in motion. In high school and college respectively, Huayi participated in the 48-hour Film Festival and directed a Halloween-themed short-film. For her, filmmaking is like doing scientific research—it's a process of finding answers to questions through artful crafting and intensive teamwork.
Giulia Grossmann
Giulia Grossmann forges links between fiction and reality, blurs the boundaries between documentary, representation and staging. From Native American to Mars Society, she takes an ethnographic look on myths appropriation phenomena and utopias.
Whether in the mountains, the jungle, the desert or the cosmos, her films link human to his environment within the limits of the ecumene.

These projects have been shown in various exhibitions and festivals in France and abroad. in particular at the FID Marseille, Short Side (Movies 104), Jeunes Créations (Le centquatre), Environmental Film Festival Australia (EFFA), Instants Vidéos The Armory (Pasadena), Comfort Station (Chicago), FEST (Portugal), FIFEQ (Montreal), Escales La Rochelle, amongst others.
Macha Rose
Macha Rose is a masters degree candidate at The New School for Media Studies. She is originally from Oakland, California where she worked in biotech until becoming a filmmaker and digital content creator. She specializes in producing and directing non fiction digital media storytelling, and is experimenting with cross platform techniques like 360 video.

Macha's goal is to make content that combines her passion for science and media in new and engaging ways. She is the director of AfroNative Narratives, Food History Mini-Docs, and is producing ongoing content for East Bay Regional Parks and Save Mt. Diablo Foundation.
Peter Burr
Peter Burr is an artist from Brooklyn specializing in animation and installation. A master of computer animation, with a gift for creating images and environments that hover on the boundary between abstraction and figuration, Burr has in recent years devoted himself to exploring the concept of an endlessly mutating labyrinth. Existing as stand-alone pieces, much of his work is also in the process of expanding into a video game through the support of Creative Capital and Sundance.

Previously, he worked under the alias Hooliganship, and in 2006 founded the video label Cartune Xprez, through which he produced three DVD compilations, live multimedia exhibitions, and touring programs showcasing a multi-generational group of artists at the forefront of experimental animation.
Pohjankonna Oy
Pohjankonna Oy specializes in experimental film production and is based in Helsinki, Finland. Working in the fields of experimental film, animation, illustration and photography, Pohjankonna Oy is a longtime favorite at Imagine Science winning the 7th annual Imagine Science Film Festival Visual Science Award in New York and the Scientific Merit Award at the 3rd Imagine Science Abu Dhabi.
Inés Vogelfang
Inés Vogelfang is a film and television editor, and postproduction coordinator from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is an alumni of the Documentary Studies Certificate, and currently a student of the MA program at The New School in New York City . For her BA she studied Sound and Image Design at the University of Buenos Aires where she discovered her passion for documentary while making her 2009 non-fiction project Heart of Fantasy on children at a pediatric hospital. She speaks Spanish, French, Portuguese and English; and she will continue to study the world forever, finding different ways to tell the stories she discovers.
Brett Ryan Bonowicz
Brett Ryan Bonowicz is the director of Closer Than We Think and The Perfect 46. His work has been reviewed by the journal Science, Scientific American, and MIT Technology Review. His production company, Clindar is focused on producing science factual films based on cutting edge science and technology. He is currently filming a series that will delve into the lives and techniques of artists who have done work for NASA entitled Artist Depiction.
Films are created over the course of our festival October 13-20.

On opening night, 6 filmmakers and 6 scientists will be randomly paired and sent off into the city to begin filmmaking with a $2500 stipend in hand. On Monday, October 16 at the Bowery Arts+Science , all pairs will meet with the public to go over cinematic works-in-progress and presentation of scientific feedback. The audience assisted by Tribeca Film Institute will provide feedback, and all final films will be screened on our closing night, October 20, when a winner will be selected!

While the overarching Imagine Science Film Festival theme this year is HYBRID, for symbiosis, we'll be focusing on a specific sub-theme of IDENTITY.

How does a recombinant genome shape an individual? How does a multi-faceted or interdisciplinary origin shape the concerns of the present? How do many factors create a cohesive identity?
    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 7 days to write, shoot, edit, and score their film. They are asked to follow the guidelines below or else 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 as of 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 and 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. 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 competition.

    Both 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 and this will be a factor in choosing the winning the film.

    All participants must attend three open key dates: Opening Night (Oct 13), Lab meeting & Reception (Oct 16), Closing Night (October 20). A no show will automatically disqualify you from the final award. Certain exceptions are possible upon request.

    Total runtime of film must be between no less 3 minutes and no more than 5 minutes.

    Each film will begin with a brief slate, with TITLE, NAME OF BOTH PARTICIPANTS. At the end, please add IMAGINE SCIENCE FILMS LOGO.

    Delivered files should be Quicktime ProRes or H264 in HD (720p or 1080p).

    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 10th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival.

    1st Prize: $2K Music Licensing Package and 2nd Prize: $1K Music Licensing Package courtesy of Konsonant Music.

    All six films will be aired in a dedicated Labocine Spotlight after the festival and for the entire month of November and featured at Imagine Science Films News Sections.

    Symbiosis applications will be accepted through August 15th. Participants and jury to be announced by end of August. Stay tuned!
    Key Dates
    October 13 – Six filmmakers and six scientists are announced at the Opening Night of the 10th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival!
    October 16 – Lab Meeting with all participants with the participation of the Tribeca Film Institute.
    October 20 – Films are screened and the winner is announced at the Closing Night of 10th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival!
    The Symbiosis Jury
    Greg Boustead
    Program Director, Science Sandbox, Simons Foundation
    With a background in neuroscience and creative writing, Greg Boustead has brought sophisticated science content to broad audiences for over 15 years, across many platforms — including writing, video and live events. In 2015, he helped launch Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to inspiring a deeper interest in science, especially among those who don't think of themselves as science enthusiasts. As program director, Boustead oversees the initiative's strategy and funding decisions. Before joining the foundation, he was editorial producer for the World Science Festival, producing their live science events and overseeing editorial for the organization's website. Previously, Boustead was senior editor of the science and culture magazine Seed, and he has contributed as a freelancer to VICE, Motherboard and Scientific American.
    Ben Lillie
    Founder, Caveat
    Ben Lillie is a high-energy particle physicist who left the ivory tower for the wilds of New York's theater district. He has a B.A. in physics from Reed College, a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Stanford University, and a Certificate in improv comedy from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. He co-founded The Story Collider, where people are invited to tell stories of their personal experience of science. He is also a Moth StorySLAM champion and a Contributing Editor for Most recently, he has founded Caveat.
    Michelle Hamada
    Coordinator, Artist Programs, Tribeca Film Institute
    Michelle is the Coordinator for Artist Programs at Tribeca Film Institute (TFI). Before joining TFI, she worked at SnagFilms programming and marketing the company's site and platforms as well as working to build Indiewire's video presence. Michelle studied film and literature at Soka University of America and went on to pursue her M.A. in Cinema Studies at NYU. As a native of California, she dreams of foggy days on the beach with her dog, but loves her life in New York very much.
    The Symbiosis Awards
    Science Sandbox Symbiosis Scientist Award
    The scientist from the winning pair in this year's Symbiosis Competition will be awarded a prize by Science Sandbox.
    Tribeca Film Institute Symbiosis Filmmaker Award
    The filmmaker from the winning pair in this year's Symbiosis Competition will be awarded a prize by the Tribeca Film Institute.
    Symbiosis animation from our friends at Rooftop Animation below!
    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 reflect 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.
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