The Symbiosis Competition

Six scientists. Six filmmakers. Six brilliant new explorations into science cinema created in one intensive week during the Imagine Science Film Festival 2019 in NYC!
And the winner is
by Taylor Hart & Laura Moss

A study of ants and the inner life of one who studies them.
The runner-up is
by Dan Munro & Jin Angdoo

A string of amino acids attract and unite in the process of protein folding.
Presenting the competitors
  • Laura Moss
    Laura Moss is an AICP-award winning filmmaker from New York City. She was named one of Filmmaker Magazine's 25 New Faces of Independent Film, as well as an IFP Emerging Storyteller.

    Her most recent project, the pilot of the sci-fi/comedy series, 'neurotica' (starring Karen Gillan and Jon Bass), premiered this April at the Tribeca Film Festival and won Best Director for a Comedy Pilot at Seriesfest.

    Her short, 'Allen Anders – Live at the Comedy Castle (circa 1987) premiered at SXSW 2018. Her previous short, 'Fry Day', screened at SXSW and Tribeca in 2017. 'Fry Day' has since screened at over 50 international festivals and won 19 awards, including the top shorts prizes at Melbourne, Miami, New Hampshire and Hollyshorts. It is currently available on the Criterion Channel.
  • Emilia Tikka
    Emilia Tikka is a designer, artist, filmmaker and PhD Candidate at Aalto University, The School of Arts, Design and Architecture in Helsinki. Her work explores philosophical dimensions and cultural implications of novel biotechnologies such as genome editing technology CRISPR. She is a former artist in residence at Max-Delbrück-Centre for Molecular Medicine and State Festival, the first European artistic residency on CRISPR. Her design works – ranging from objects, scenarios, films – has been awarded and exhibited in several international design exhibitions and art museums including Ars Electronica in Austria, STATE Studio in Germany, New York University Arts Centre in United Arabic Emirates, Västerås Art Museum in Sweden, EMMA Museum of Modern Art in Finland, Contemporary Art Museum CoCA in Poland and Helsinki Technical Museum to mention few. Her work has been featured in publications such as Nature, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Die Welt and PLASMA magazine.

  • Mark Slutsky
    Mark Slutsky is an award-winning writer and director based in Montreal. His short films have premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival, and been featured as Vimeo Staff Picks three times, twice on Short of the Week. He also co-wrote the feature comedy Peepers and the feature documentary The Fruit Hunters. He currently teaches film and emerging media to game design students at Champlain College of Vermont, Montreal Campus, is a video game writer for Compulsion Games (We Happy Few) and writes for the acclaimed Dell Technologies Trailblazers podcast.
  • Jin Angdoo
    Jin Angdoo is a Paris-based Korean-born American filmmaker / artist who works across TV commercial, experimental film, visual art and mural painting.
  • Marleine Van der Werf
    Marleine van der Werf (1985, CH/NL) is a filmmaker/visual artist with a documentary practice based in the Netherlands. In her artistic research she explores how to experience the reality of someone else. Through cinema, virtual reality and multi-sensory technology Van der Werf creates haptic experiences to challenge the understanding of the other and the self. Recurrent themes are embodiment, empathy, consciousness and our subjective perception of reality. She collaborates with renowned experts in the field of science, art and humanities. Her award winning projects have been broadcasted at television and shown at international art- and filmfestivals like IDFA (NL), Human Rights filmfestival Seoul (KR), Future of storytelling New York (USA) and Art Basel (CH).
  • Anna Lindemann
    Anna Lindemann calls herself an Evo Devo artist. Her work combines animation, music, video, and performance to explore the emerging field of Evolutionary Developmental Biology (Evo Devo). She recently premiered THE COLONY, an art-science performance about sisterhood and the evolution of communication in two of the most social creatures on earth: ants and humans. She graduated from Yale with a BS in Biology before receiving an MFA in Integrated Electronic Arts from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Digital Media & Design Department at the University of Connecticut where she has pioneered courses integrating art and science.
  • Alexandru B. Georgescu
    Alex Georgescu is a theoretical and computational physicist who likes to solve problems related to materials and the quantum mechanical rules that govern them. One of the prominent topics in his research is what happens when one makes 'sandwiches' out of different materials, as the result is often more interesting than the components. He is currently a Flatiron Research Fellow at the Center for Computational Quantum Mechanics at the Simons Foundation's Flatiron Institute in NYC. Knowing from personal experience the incredibly important role of a mentor, he is passionate about scientific outreach and education and believes that scientific literacy is an important part of the well-being of society. During his Ph.D his dedication and commitment to teaching and outreach in the community were recognized with the D. Allan Bromley Graduate Fellowship. A Bucharest, Romania native, he holds a Ph.D from Yale University and a B.A. from Columbia University.
  • Sofia Landi
    Sofia Landi is a neuroscientist and postdoctoral researcher at The Rockefeller University, where she completed her PhD. She studies how we recognize well-known faces - or how this process differs from the way we perceive unfamiliar ones. When she is not in the lab, you will probably find her at a contemporary dance class, running, doing yoga, or climbing. Sports have always been a major component of her life, and as an undergrad she studied how learning such motor skills impact brain plasticity. A native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sofia embraces every opportunity to explore how animal brains create complex behaviors, and she wonders if artificial intelligence will ever match such capabilities.
  • Taylor Hart
    Taylor Hart is a PhD candidate at the Rockefeller University, where they study the social systems within ant colonies. They focus on exploring the sensory neurobiology that ants use to perceive pheromones, the chemicals that they use to communicate and coordinate their societies. Outside the lab, Taylor is a visual artist. They gravitate toward the intersection of arts and science, and their overall work aims to explore, represent, and engage with the aesthetics of the natural world.
  • Albana Kodra
    Albana Kodra is a PhD candidate in Genetics at Columbia University's Zuckerman Institute. She studies how cells acquire their identity and in particular how the architecture of chromatin influences gene choice. She uses a combination of genetics and biochemical techniques/instruments that allow me to visualize DNA structures at the nano scale levels. She moved to NYC four years ago after graduating from the University of Milan where she was involved in public events, TV shows and blogs to promote science outreach.
  • Julia Van Etten
    Julia Van Etten is a PhD student in Ecology and Evolution at Rutgers University. She studies coral genomics as well as algae that live in extreme environments and how they have incorporated genes from other microbes into their genomes to help them survive a variety of harsh conditions. Every living thing has its own genome and understanding these mechanisms can help us learn more about how and why they change and get a glimpse into processes likely present when life was first evolving on Earth. Outside of the lab, Julia has a lot of art-related hobbies and started "Couch Microscopy", a multimedia project on Instagram, documenting the biodiversity of microorganisms, especially protists, that live all around us but are rarely seen. Her work has been featured on NBC, PBS, and other media outlets.
  • Dan Munro
    Dan Munro is a postdoctoral researcher at New York University. He studies how DNA mutations lead to changes in proteins, and how these disruptions can lead to disease. In doing so he aims to better understand how proteins interact and how cancer can be treated on an individual basis. He received his PhD from Princeton University, where he also began using algorithms from science to generate biologically inspired graphics.
The Events

Competitors will meet at a casual night out on Thursday October 17. Shortly thereafter, they receive their pairing assignments and receive a $2500 stipend.

On October 21, the public will be invited to view Works In Progress and lend their voice to the conversation.

On October 25, the films are premiered and awards are presented. The films begin their journey around the world. The cohort celebrates!
The competition works on three levels.
  • 1
    During production, filmmakers teach scientists their craft and scientists teach filmmakers their process. Each cohort forms a mentorship network.
  • 2
    Local audience
    The public is invited to participate in production during special events designed to stimulate conversation about science on film.
  • 3
    International stage
    New and experimental science films are released into the wild. And by wild, we mean the international film festival circuit. Films have gone on to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam and the New York Film Festival!
The Symbiosis Jury
  • Catherine Grau
    Artist and curator
    Catherine Grau is and artist and organizer focused on creating spaces and projects that reimagine/reclaim knowledge production and social relations towards post-capitalist imaginaries. Currently her work is questioning human relations with the natural world as manifested in the intersections between language, migration/globalization, value systems, and climate change. She is deeply committed to working collaboratively and across disciplines. She co-founded the following collectives: Process Institute (2010-2011), Chance Ecologies (2015 – present), and EPA – Environmental Performance Agency (2017 – present). Catherine holds a BFA in sculpture from Pratt Institute (NYC, USA) and an MFA in Public Art and New Artistic Strategies from the Bauhaus University (Weimar, Germany). She is currently based in Queens, New York and works as Public Programs Coordinator at the Queens Museum.
  • Alex Pasternak
    Editor at Fast Company and Motherboard
    Alex is a contributing editor at Fast Company, a founding editor and editor at large of Motherboard at Vice, and a writer and producer with a focus on the intersections of science, media, security, and the environment. He's also a proud member of the advisory board at Imagine Science Films.

  • Leah Shore
    Leah developed a passion for fine art and music and a connection with people at a very young age. Her ability to use a wide array of mediums, incorporate style centric content, and mine human stories in a cinematic setting, while remaining accessible to a diverse audience, has made her a director to watch out for. Leah is recognized for her confident, meticulous style, visually directed storytelling, mixture of humor, and emotionally driven content. She ran a show for Billboard on Facebook where they interviewed top 100 artists while animating on top of each episode, and produced over 50 episodes. Leah's short film Old Man can be seen on the Criterion Channel before the film Easy Rider. Her film produced with scientist Dr. Tracy Fanara for the Imagine Science Film Festival won First Place in 2018. Her hobbies include making ice cream, attempting to play her theremin, and writing about herself in the third person.
This project is supported by Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation.
  • Science Sandbox is 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. We support and collaborate with programs that unlock scientific thinking in everyone.
The Symbiosis Award this year is also presented by, our sister film archive and monthly video magazine.
  • Labocine extends our film programming to a broader and more diverse audience. We have over 2,000 film titles from 200 countries for all ages brought to you by artists, scientists, filmmakers and educators.
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