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OSFAS Lecture: Mad Science and Popular Cinema 1910 to 2020 Presented by Laurence Kardish


Although "Oscar" is a creature of an organization called the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Hollywood has for 110 years made the "sciences" a terrific villain in its films as the 2018 Oscar winner, The Shape of Water, demonstrably shows. With a few notable exceptions, American cinema has portrayed movie scientists as ambitious, driven, single-minded, demonic (but not necessarily evil) and slightly berserk. In their search for a better world, according to Hollywood, scientists have made a worse one.

And why not? Treating scientists seriously would make for boring cinema and deprive film lovers of many enjoyable genre films, like horror, science-fiction, mysteries and even biographies. 

In an illustrated talk, Laurence Kardish, the former Senior Curator of Film at New York's Museum of Modern Art, follows the image of scientists in a century plus of film as they create wondrous dramatic trouble and eye-popping havoc on planet Earth.

After graduating from Carleton and Columbia universities, Laurence Kardish spent the next 44 years of his career at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City where he curated over a thousand exhibitions covering the whole history and culture of the moving image.  A native of Ottawa, Mr. Kardish is a fixture at film events and festivals in New York, Canada and worldwide, serving on film festival juries and supporting many film programs.  He has received numerous awards, including the Order of Merit (Bundesverdienstkreuz) of the Federal Republic of Germany and the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres as well as an honorary doctorate from Carleton University in 2011. He is currently the co-artistic director of FilmColumbia, a festival in Chatham, New York, and an instructor in the Graduate Film Program of the School of Visual Arts in New York.

Offered in partnership with the Ottawa Society for the Arts and Sciences.



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