The Sea Horse

Dr. Mandë Holford

Associate Professor of Chemistry, Hunter College


Isabella Rossellini

Actress, Filmmaker

Love Lives of Sea Creatures: Films by Jean Painlevé, Isabella Rossellini, and Roberto Rossellini— Love Beneath the Sea

A discussion of marine biology and the reproductive lives of underwater creatures.

Museum of the Moving Image New York, NY

Film Synopsis

The reproductive behavior of sea creatures is central to these lyrical and wondrous films by Jean Painlevé, Isabella Rossellini, and Roberto Rossellini.

The otherworldly films of Jean Painlevé–a French filmmaker and inventor–capture the spectacle of marine biology with one of the first underwater cameras. The program includes rare screenings of four archival 35mm prints: The Sea Horse (1933); ACERA, or The Witches’ Dance (1972); Shrimp Stories (1964) and The Love Life of the Octopus (1967). Isabella Rossellini’s playfully stylized series Green Porno explores how the starfish, shrimp, squid, and anchovy reproduce. The program also features a rarity, the first film by Roberto Rossellini (Isabella’s father), Fantasia Sottomarina (1940), which is about two fish in love that are threatened by an octopus.

About the Speaker

Dr. Mandë Holford is as an associate professor in chemistry at Hunter College, with scientific appointments at the American Museum of Natural History and Weill Cornell Medical College. Her research focuses on how the venom of marine snails can be used in drug development for pain and cancer treatment. Dr. Holford was named a “New Champion Young Scientist” by the World Economic Forum. She is the co-founder of, a learning games company, and, a project of the National Science Foundation to increase the presence of women in science.

Award-winning actress Isabella Rossellini made her film debut in the 1976 film A Matter of Time, opposite her mother Ingrid Bergman. Her American film debut was Taylor Hackford's White Nights, which led to her breakout role as nightclub singer Dorothy Vallens in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. In 2005, Rossellini wrote My Dad Is 100 Years Old, directed by Guy Maddin, about her father—the Italian film pioneer Roberto Rossellini. Rossellini made her directorial debut with the Sundance Channel series Green Porno, which was adapted for the stage as a one-woman show and had its New York premiere at BAM. Rossellini has won awards at festivals around the world and has appeared in more than 70 films and television series. She is currently getting her master's degree in Animal Behavior and Conservation at Hunter College.