Christina Lu October 22 2017

Hybrid Identities at the 10th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival


On opening night of the 10th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival in New York, 6 filmmakers and 6 scientists were randomly paired and sent off into the city to begin filmmaking. The only prompt offered to each pair was to focus their film on the theme: HYBRID-IDENTITY.

Having observed this year’s competition from conceptualization to selection to marathon execution this past week, I also witnessed participants’ initial skepticism of the project shift entirely to make room for lasting loyalties—to their partners, to the process, and to their resulting ideas.

Even though we specifically selected scientists and filmmakers with uniquely different styles and fields of study, no two pairs came even remotely close in interpretation of the prompt. Over the week, HYBRID-IDENTITY revealed itself through a generative animation about parasitic nematodes, a dystopian imagination on hybridizing the self you want with the self you are, and a meditation on the elements that make up Planet Earth. A dance inspired by wave-particle duality as an apt metaphor for one artist’s double life, an examination of the multiplex of senses involved in memory, and a filmic journey revealing the paradox of our relationship to the Cloud against the backdrop of the clouds we learned about as kids.

I waited nervously as pairs met each other for the first time last Friday. Under the florescence of The New School hallways, I watched as they swigged gulps of Lagunitas in between attempts to quell the awkwardness of their first encounters. To my surprise, I was already getting texts excitedly reporting progress and compatibility as early as the next day. By our Monday night Symbiosis Lab Meeting at the Bowery Poetry Club, it had become very clear that the laws of Chance and Randomness had worked to everyone’s favor. I was asked several times by people with genuine incredulity in their voices whether pairs had picked each other or had known each other prior to the challenge. Drew their names out of a hat, I responded with the same incredulousness. (An interesting follow up experiment would be to randomize the same twelve participants.)

By each film’s screening on Closing Night at Caveat, the venue was charged with excitement and imminent nostalgia, as many filmmakers were flying home in the hours and days after. Family and friends packed into the space, sitting on the ground and crouching on knees while balancing drinks in their hands, waiting for the premiere of six science films made in a week. The feeling of anticipation and community was the strongest I’ve experienced since college. From my spot in the back, I drank in the shy high fives, the comfortable teasing, the open admiration. It was fun, addicting, and everything Imagine Science Films is and has always been trying to cultivate. Thank you to everyone involved for your energy and faith. We hope that you came away with something you’re proud of, and please visit us soon.

Here are the 6 films produced by Labocine with the support of Imagine Science FilmsScience Sandbox | Simons Foundation & Tribeca Film Institute. Special thanks to Konsanant Music and Adorama for their additional gifts.

To learn more about the Symbiosis competition and our participating filmmakers and scientists, visit Imagine Science Symbiosis 2017.


We all have a biological identity - a genetic hardware that can not be easily changed. About half of Drosophila's brain is dedicated to vision. What they can see, is who they are. What about us?

Optic Identity (Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen, Janne Pulkkinen & Huayi Wei)


NEMATODE - Network Reconstruction Of Nematode Symbionts - RUNNER-UP

Some parasitic nematodes have an endosymbiosic relationship with the bacteria Wolbachia. In Nematodes, we reconstruct this symbiotic relationship and break it down, finding ourselves at the model's writhing core.

Nematode (Peter Burr & Alexandra Grote)


What lengths would you be willing to go, to medically change your personality? 

Figuration (Macha Rose & Joel Simon)


What difference do you see between these ashes and the dust of the Milky Way? This film navigates between different textures that are part of nature: water, roots, tree bark. Because of the disparate scales, these things are shown in an abstract way. The movement of these elements in concert are what informs the identity of earth in progress.

In Between We Are (Giulia Grossmann & Ramin Rahni)


A film about the phenomena of particle wave duality.

"The columns resemble the double split experiment that Feynman describes so well in his lecture. Therefore inspired by the rhythm of Feynman's voice and the incredible space based, I based my dance movements off the Schrodinger equation which is a mathematical equation that describes the changes over time of a physical system in which quantum effects, such as wave–particle duality, are significant." - Merritt Moore

"When I heard that the theme for the Imagine Science film competition would be Identity-Hybrid, I recalled how the Argentinean author Borges quoted Heraclitus: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man”. - Inés Vogelfang

Duality (Inés Vogelfang & Merritt Moore)


Where a cloud ends and "the cloud" begins is a place not for the faint hearted. A journey into the science and philosophy of the nature of our relationship to clouds today. 

I, Cloud (Brett Ryan Bonowicz & Campbell Watson)