For the 9th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival in New York, our yearly short film competition will once again bring together scientists and filmmakers to create a science-inspired short film, this time involving our theme of “light” and taking place over the course of one week. Filmmakers and scientists will be randomly paired and given all additional information on our opening night, October 14. On Monday, October 17 at the Bowery Arts+Science , there will be a lab meeting to go over cinematic works-in-progress and presentation of scientific feedback. The public assisted by the Ligo Project will provide feedback, and all final films will be screened on our closing night, October 21, when a winner will be selected!

Check out our previous years’ films from Symbiosis Film Competition 2015 and 2014.

Monday, October 17, 2016 | 7:00 PM

Bowery Arts+Science | Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery | New York, NY 10012

All students can use the code ISF9STUDENT to get discounted tickets

Participants & Guidelines


Sally is a graduate student in Biology. In (some) of her spare time she collects samples of water from various locations in New York City and the surrounding areas and documents the microscopic organisms found within. Sally has a B.Sc. with Honours in Botany from the University of Melbourne in Australia (although she’s from New Zealand). She’s currently working on getting her Ph.D. in Biology from New York University in the United States of America. At present, all Sally’s footage is captured using her iPhone strategically positioned above the eyepiece of a compound microscope. Obviously this is not ideal, but she will make do with what is available until such time as a more permanent solution arises. Sally is working towards creating cinema quality videos and images of these organisms. Sally runs Pondlife, a website documents microscopic organisms as the complex living creatures that they are, and make them accessible to as many people as possible.

Nicholas DelRose is a Biology PhD candidate in his fifth year at NYU, working to compare plant root regeneration and embryogenesis in the plant model Arabidopsis thaliana. He is also the co-owner and art director of Damaged Goods, a greeting card company. Having studied both fine arts and biology at Carnegie Mellon University, DelRose now combines these two passions. His goal is to use art to teach science, including through 3D graphics and animation. A visual learner, he believes that providing a more tangible experience is the most valuable form of teaching.

Andrés is enamored with both science and fine fine art. As a geneticist, he gravitates towards the fields of DNA replication and repair, with a specific interest in “cracking the repetitive DNA code.” When not imagining what the inside of cell might be like, he is dilettanteing about: pen to paper, brush to canvas, video to youtube, and typewriters too. He has an special admiration for abstract oil painting and watching vlogs/avant-garde youtube videos, both formats of which he hopes to pursue in the name of sciences.

Moiya sometimes has a hard time making decisions. She’s now pursuing a PhD in Astronomy at Columbia University, but in college she couldn’t choose between science and the humanities, so she studied both Astrophysics and Folklore & Mythology. As an astronomer, Moiya’s main interests are exoplanets and galaxy evolution. Of course she can’t choose between those, either, so she plans to spend her time in graduate school finding the places in galaxies where habitable planets are most likely to form. When she’s not actively doing research, Moiya is likely teaching other people about science or writing fiction stories.

Matthew Ahearn is a chemist with13 years of industrial experience.  He holds B.S. in chemistry and chemical engineering and an M.S. in chemistry, all from Rutgers University.  His focus has been on polymer synthesis, characterization and testing.  He is currently employed as a senior research chemist with the Henkel Corporation and has previously worked with Elementis Specialties as an R&D process engineer.  At Henkel for 7 years, his work has centered around Silicon based polymers for innovations in adhesion science.  This includes work on transdermal drug delivery patches and more recently flexible adhesives for electronic devices.  He has been the recipient of numerous professional and academic awards and has filed his first patent last year with another on the way.

Rodrigo Valles is a NYC-based, self-taught artist. He taught himself to oil paint around the age of 26. His earliest artistic passion was a fascination with graffiti as a teen. Painting is not his only profession, though it is his passion. Rodrigo has a Ph.D. in behavioral pharmacology and currently works as the Associate Director for a large health and research center at Hunter College. He is of Mexican heritage and spent his early years in Dallas, Texas. Art only took root during his high school years when he committed himself to learning about the graffiti on the streets of Dallas. His focus then shifted to his undergraduate and graduate education until he moved with his wife to the West Indies in 2005. With free time for the first time in over 8 years, he taught himself to oil paint. This provided the vehicle to marry urban art and fine art in a way that was uniquely personal but well within the framework of growing contemporary art genres. In 2014 Rodrigo developed and taught an undergraduate class for Hunter College that explored the neurological, psychological and sociological underpinnings of creativity. The syllabus developed for the class was very novel at the time and drew heavily from the emerging field of neuroaesthetics.


Beatrice Copeland is an independent filmmaker living and working in New York City. Her first short film, Erstwhile went on to play several festivals including the 2015 Cannes Short Film Corner. She spent most of 2015 as the field producer of a docu-series for A&E TV network. She has worked in the film industry for six years at companies including The Weinstein Company, Participant Media, National Geographic, and Sony Pictures Entertainment. Beatrice is currently a video producer at the women’s media company Refinery29.

Jason Chew is a Taiwanese-American film writer/director who grew up in Brooklyn, NY. His first short film No Holding Back won grand prize at the Asian American International Film Festival 72 Hour Shootout. His latest film Ru Yi was selected to the 2016 First Run Film Festival at NYU. Jason’s passion for filmmaking has led him to the other side of the world, where he has shot commercial and narrative projects all over Asia including Singapore, Taipei, and Beijing. Jason has a background in Business & Marketing and graduated from Carnegie Mellon University. He then went on to receive his MFA in Filmmaking at Tisch School of the Arts Asia. He is now creating branded content in New York and has recently finished filming a short documentary about Biomedical Scientist Jan Vilcek’s life during World War II.

Sydney Clara Brafman is a multidisciplinary filmmaker living in Brooklyn, NY. Her films have screened around the world in Japan, Sweden, Australia, SXSW and the Cannes Film Festival. She is considered one of 110 filmmakers who represent the future of film, media and entertainment, according to Variety Magazine. Her focus drives her to study the human condition, the irony of circumstance, the tragedy of humor and the environments they inhabit with a wicked sense of humor and style. When she’s not making movies, she’s passionately hating cocoa, removing stage blood stains from her clothing, and enjoying cats on the street.

Javier Diez is independent filmmaker working in Valencia. He became interested in astronomy after attending an introductory workshop in the local planetarium “The Hemisferic” back home,. His love for science fiction and frustration for inaccuracies in astronomy film brought him to real astronomers and into the world of universe with its various orders of magnitude. He then joined the local Astronomy Club and spent many evenings in pitch dark looking for the Milky Way. He perfected his time-lapse astro-photography. With his connections with astronomers at the University of Valencia, he made various shorts for outreach and educational purposes. Things picked up momentum when he made higher-impact films for the Astronomical Observatory of the University of Valencia, notably “Heartbeats in the stars” (Prize CPAN Segovia),  “Hubble’s time machine” and  Tránsitos y Eclipses”. He then turned to fiction with Bow Shock, a short  is about the JPAS Galaxy Survey featured in this year’s ISFF selection. He is in development for another sci-fi short about supernovas.

Toma Peiu is a filmmaker, writer and media scholar, currently based in New York. His work reflects an interest in identifying modes of expression and interdisciplinary narratives bridging fiction, non-fiction, cultural theory, art and real life experience. “Civilians” was produced as a thesis film for the MA in Media Studies program at The New School University in New York. The narrative short films he wrote, directed by his partner Luiza Pârvu, have been recognized at over 80 film festivals and events worldwide, from Cluj to New York, Karlovy Vary, Moscow and Abu Dhabi. In 2014, Luiza and Toma have founded their own production company, Root Films. Toma is currently a Programm Associate for the Graduate Certificate in Documentary Media Studies at The New School.

Cidney Hue is a writer and director focused on art and science driven sci-fi films. Her award-winning short, Odessa, recounts the journey of an astronaut’s last night on Earth. Her webseries for Wired & reddit, Cyborg Nation, profiles scientists at the forefront of prosthetics, robotics, and brain-computer interfaces. Her environmental documentary, Shark Loves the Amazon, toured nationally and premiered at the World Sustainability Forum to leaders and policy makers. In addition to filmmaking, Cidney leads the monthly NYC Women Filmmakers meetup to support female filmmakers in New York City.

The Dates

September 15 – Six filmmakers and six scientists announced at the Opening Night of the 9th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival!
October 14 – Filmmakers and scientists are paired before a panel discussion on science and film collaborations.
October 17 – Lab Meeting with all participants with the participation of the Ligo Project.
October 21 – Films are screened and the winner is announced at the Closing Night of 9th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival!

Awards & Jury

  • The jury includes members from our partners at Tribeca Film Institute & Ligo Project.
  • All participants get a free pass to all events of the 9th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival.
  • The winning film of the Symbiosis Film Competition will be awarded a $1,000 cash prize by Tribeca Film Institute and featured via our sponsors and partners.
  • 1st Prize: $2K Music Licensing Package and 2nd Prize: $1K Music Licensing Package courtesey 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.

Krista Parris is our Tribeca Film Institute jury member this year. She began her film career at Jonathan Demme and Ed Saxon’s former company where she worked on Adaptation from development through release and developed material with artists such as Robert Schenkkan, Doug Wright and Neil LaBute. Her producing credits include Alexis Gambis’ feature The Fly Room; Emily Carmichael’s sci-fi short Stryka, starring Aimee Mullins and Rupert Friend; and Tribeca Film Institute grantee Indifferent Women, Charlie Birns’ feature debut in post-production. She recently completed principal photography on Josephine Decker’s third feature Movie No. 1 starring Molly Parker, Miranda July and newcomer Helena Howard and is also developing a virtual reality piece with Decker, “Happy,” a selection of the 2016 Sundance Institute New Frontier Story Lab.


Matthew Putman is an American scientist, educator, musician and film/stage producer. He is best known for his work in nanotechnology, the science of working in dimensions smaller than 100 nanometers. Putman currently serves as the CEO of Nanotronics Imaging, which provides ultra high-resolution images for industry and science. His area of scientific focus includes advanced materials, and nanosystems. He teaches courses on new unique ways to use nanoparticles in polymers for the creation of flexible electronics, bio-scaffolds, flexible solar panels and other cutting edge areas of material science.

Alexis Gambis is Founder & Executive Director of the Imagine Science Film Festival. He also recently launched Labocine, a VOD platform and video magazine coined by reviewers as the “science new wave”  which proposes a new way to experience science cinema.  He received a Masters of Fine Arts from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and a Ph.D in Molecular Biology from The Rockefeller University. He teaches part of the year courses at New York University in Abu Dhabi at the intersect of neuroscience and film.

The Rules

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. Their 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. All cast and crew must be volunteers. No paid cast/crew!
  • 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 14), Lab meeting & Reception (Oct 18), Closing Night (October 21). 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.