Jury & Awards
Every year ISFF - together with a few of our closest partners - awards films from our festival for their scientific, narrative and visual strengths. This year, we're proud to have Nautilus and AEON as film award partners.
Feature Awards
Science New Wave Award
Films in competition that proposes bold, singular and oftentimes hybrid ways to communicate science. These films are considered to be visionary and outside of the (science) box

Spotlight Award
Films in competition that are timely, not shying away from controversial topics while providing a well-balanced state-of-matters related to scientific issues and crises.
Short Film Awards
In Vivo: realistic and human depiction of a scientist or science on screen

Avant-Garde: bold storytelling and hybrid aesthetics and narrative.

Theme-Sensitive (Nautilus): emphasis on narrative, storytelling related to this year's topic: "Migration."

Symbiosis Award (Science Sandbox): awarded to the film made in this year's Symbiosis competition that best embraces the idea of collaboration, scientific storytelling and originality.
Aeon Video will award one or more non-fiction shorts with an honorable mention at the festival for excellence in short non-fiction. Aeon will be in touch with awarded filmmakers for an offering of exclusive web streaming.

2020 Film Festival Jury
  • Pakinam Amer
    Journalist and VR creator
    Pakinam Amer is an award-winning science journalist, editor and podcaster. She's a VR enthusiast, an emerging technology research affiliate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a recipient of the Knight Science Journalism fellowship from MIT. Recently, she produced and hosted a podcast series about science communication for scientists for Nature Careers. She also served as the editor-in-chief of Nature Middle East, one of the regional copies of Nature magazine. She has written for Nature, the Boston Globe, the Associated Press, Egypt Today and Egypt Independent. She has an MA in Investigative Journalism from City, University of London. Pakinam is passionate about comics, science fiction, film, game design, virtuality, long-form narrative and immersive storytelling.
  • Erin Esplelie
    Filmmaker & Writer
    Erin Espelie is a filmmaker and writer whose poetic nonfiction films have shown at the New York Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Whitechapel Gallery in London, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Imagine Science Film Festival, and more. She is co-director of NEST (Nature, Environment, Science & Technology) Studio for the Arts at the University of Colorado Boulder and serves as editor in chief of Natural History magazine.
  • Claude Desplan
    Claude Desplan, a biologist originally trained in France, has been a Silver Professor in New York University's Department of Biology since 1999. His research centers on understanding the development and functioning of the visual system that underlies color vision using the fruit fly Drosophila as a model organism.
Symbiosis 2020 Jury
  • Sophie Tintori
    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.
  • Bianca Jones Marlin
    Bianca Jones Marlin is an American neuroscientist and Simons Society Junior Fellow working at the Zuckerman Institute at Columbia University in New York City. Marlin currently studies the epigenetic mechanisms that enable trauma to be passed trans-generationally. Bianca was part of the 2018 Symbiosis Competition.
  • Laura Moss
    Laura is a filmmaker from New York City. Their work has screened at Rotterdam, Tribeca, SXSW and Clermont-Ferrand film festivals and has been archived in MoMA's permanent collection. Their short film 'Fry Day' is featured on the Criterion Channel. They are currently developing 'birth/rebirth', a feature film reimagining the Frankenstein myth, with the support of Rooftop Films and the Sundance Institute. They won the 2019 Symbiosis competition with their scientist collaborator Taylor Hart.
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