March 28, 2018

Science on Screen film series comes to Sewickley theater

“We are searching for ways to strengthen educational opportunities, and bolstering scientific literacy through film was very aligned with our goals.”

March 28, 2018
by Sam Bojarski

A grant from the Coolidge Corner Theatre, with major support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, has given The Tull Family Theater an opportunity to launch its inaugural Science on Screen film series. 

Beginning March 29, the nonprofit theater will hold a film-and-speaker event on the last Thursday of each month, from March to June. The Science on Screen events pair one or more subject matter experts with a movie on the same topic and are designed to spark new interests among attendees of all ages, while giving people practical ways to improve their lives. 

“Thirty-seven independent theaters nationwide received grants, and we are one of them,” said Carolina Pais-Barreto Thor, executive director of the theater. 

The film series started back in 2005. 

Since The Tull Family Theater launched in February 2017, its staff has applied for a number of grants that correspond to the theater's mission of strengthening cultural, educational and entertainment experiences in the region northwest of Pittsburgh. 

“We are searching for ways to strengthen educational opportunities, and bolstering scientific literacy through film was very aligned with our goals,” Thor said. 

In the first installment of the series, experts from the University of Pittsburgh's BRiTE program will discuss how to stave off cognitive decline prior to a showing of “Marjorie Prime,” a popular science-fiction film. 

Additional events in the series include insomnia and sleepwalking with the film “Sleepwalk with Me,” April 26; healthy eating and food preparation with “Babette's Feast,” May 31; and independent thinking with “The Man Who Knew Infinity,” June 28. 

All events begin at 6:30 p.m., and general admission tickets are $11. 

While Thor acknowledges that a topic like cognitive decline may appeal to an older demographic, she expects to see people of all ages at the Science on Screen events. 

“There could be youth affected by family members and loved ones who have gone through that,” she said. “This program is really going to be directed to a broad spectrum of the public.” 

Nationwide, the 37 theaters that received the grant will feature their own film choices. The Tull Family Theater made its four selections based on local expertise. 

With two prominent food advocacy groups in the region, the choice of a food-oriented event was a no-brainer. Last year, Sisters of St. Joseph donated more than 2,000 pounds of produce to organizations that address food insecurity, according to Sister Lyn Szymkiewicz of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Baden. 

Leah Lizarondo, CEO and co-founder of 412 Food Rescue, works with grocery stores and nonprofits to deliver surplus food to those in need. She hopes people will be empowered by the film series. 

“Oftentimes when we watch movies about the challenges we face, we feel there is no recourse for action. And I think hearing individuals and organizations that work in the community will give people in the audience a way to act on these problems,” Lizarondo said. 

Sam Bojarski is a Tribune-Review contributing writer. 

Read the article on the Tribune-Review website.