The Symbiosis Competition

Pro scientists and filmmakers will be paired to produce new forms of science cinema on the topic EMERGENCE during the Imagine Science Film Festival 2019 in NYC!
Scientist & filmmaker competitors from the latest iteration of the competition! (Winter 2018/2019)
The competition will last from October 17-October 25, 2019.
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.
During production, filmmakers teach scientists their craft and scientists teach filmmakers their process. Each cohort forms a mentorship network.
Local audience
The public is invited to participate in production during special events designed to stimulate conversation about science on film.
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 theme is EMERGENCE
Organic life arose incidentally from basic chemical interactions. Consciousness is a product of the coordinated activity of one hundred billion neurons. This is the phenomenon of emergence, the ability of simple parts, acting together, to give rise to complicated properties unobserved in the parts alone. By this process, complexity appears spontaneously at every level of the universe, not an anomaly but a basic and deeply ingrained trait of all that exists. By this process, discreet atoms erect elaborate structures, ecosystems form and refine, and coordinated efforts bring about unforeseen and powerful effects. If simple components can be imagined, even expected, to accomplish so much, then this suggests a path forwards in uncertain times. Against universal entropy, even the individually inconsequential possess the synthetic power to collectively effect change. And on planet Earth, in 2019, this may be no small matter.

Emergence may also be much more. The shoot of a plant just breaking from the ground after winter, or after nuclear winter. The end of a dark age. The beginning of a movement, of a new era. If last year's festival sought survival, this year's flies free, seeking the future.

Frequently Asked Questions
Can I do any creative work in advance of the competition?
Creating this film should be an equal collaboration between scientist and filmmaker. This means that all subject matter and strategy must be decided after meeting your partner on the first day of the competition.

All creative work must take place during the competition period.

Any work created in advance of the competition period will be prohibited. This includes Scriptwriting, Shooting, Costume & Set design, use of preexisting footage.
What kind of films are you expecting?
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 platform for sci-art collaboration: scientists and filmmakers working together, but also scientists making their films and artists conducting their own scientific experiments. It's all very open-ended.
Can you provide travel funds and equipment?
Pending availability, yes we have a travel fund as well as a collection of ISF equipment available to be borrowed during the competition. All pairs also receive a $2500 production stipend.
I still have a question. Who can I ask?
Please send questions to !
This project is supported by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science.
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.
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