March 20, 2018

Film and Speaker Series to Explore Science and Health Issues that Impact Us All

Many everyday conversations are interlaced with science:

  • How can I keep my mind sharp? What can I do to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?
  • Why can’t I get just one good night’s sleep? I always feel tired!
  • I don’t have time to cook, but can I still eat healthy?
  • My checkbook never balances and my kid struggles with math, too. How can anybody get it without an advanced degree?

The many people who grapple with this issues are the audience for the region’s only Science on Screen® program. An initiative of the Coolidge Corner Theatre with major support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Science on Screen debuts this March at The Tull Family Theater in Sewickley—the only cinema in the tri-state region selected to participate in this national program.

The premise is both basic and clever: pair a film with an underlying thread of science and math and a brief talk by experts working in the field to provide opportunities for attendees of all ages to develop interests and improve their lives.

The four-event series will be held on the last Thursday of the month at the theater, 418 Walnut St., Sewickley. At 6:30 p.m., a speaker or panel will present from the screening room stage, then take questions from the audience before the film. Our funders sponsor this type of event in 37 independent theaters nationwide to stir interest in science, healthcare and math.

Below is a synopsis of films and speakers coming in the months ahead. More details will be posted online at and shared in our Weekly Update, which is emailed to subscribers every Tuesday.

March 29, 6:30 p.m.
Marjorie Prime
Directed by Michael Almereyda
Starring Lois Smith, John Hamm, Geena Davis and Tim Robbins

 Staring into the face of a universal human fear: Losing cognitive abilities

At a beach house in the near future, an elderly woman chats with a robotic—and definitely younger—version of her late husband. He’s a hologram, a product of artificial intelligence. Is computerized assistance with memories helpful or misleading? And for now, what can we do to stave off cognitive decline?

Hear from experts from the University of Pittsburgh’s Brain Exercise and Training Wellness Program (BRiTE), which offers physical, musical and mental activities to those with mild cognitive impairments. Not yet two years old, the center already is expanding in Oakland and considering satellite locations. Researcher Dr. Oscar Lopez is director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center of Pittsburgh, professor of neurology, psychiatry and clinical translational sciences at the University of Pittsburgh; Levidow-Pittsburgh Foundation Endowed Chair in Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Disorders; and Chief of the Cognitive and Behavioral Division. Dr. James Becker is a professor in the department of psychiastry at the University of Pittsburgh  School of Medicine, focusing on neural effects of aging and Alzheimer’s Disease. Robin Sullivan, an occupational therapist whose experience includes 20+ years working with a geriatric population, serves as program coordinator, developing and implementing programs at  the BRiTE Center.

April 26, 6:30 p.m.
Sleepwalk with Me
Directed by Mike Birbiglia and Seth Barrish
Starring Mike Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose, James Rebhorn

Nearly comatose: An increasingly elusive part of the human Daily Minimum Requirement is getting enough sleep to rejuvenate body and mind.

Sleepwalk with Me, co-written with NPR storyteller Ira Glass of This American Life, chronicles the real-life challenges comic Mike Birbiglia faced in a stressful stretch of his life, with gigs zigzagging across the country, a long-term romantic relationship stalling—and nights spent sleepwalking.

Dr. Daniel Shade, director of Allegheny General Hospital’s Sleep Disorders Clinic, and nurse practitioner Rachel Falsone, trained in insomnia and sleepwalking, will speak and take audience questions before the screening.

May 31, 6:30 p.m.
Babette’s Feast
Directed by Gabriel Axel
Starring Stéphane Audran, Bodil Kjer, Birgitte Federspiel

Food for body and soul: Why healthy eating, food preparation and sharing meals are important

The 1987 Oscar winning film Babette’s Feast contrasts the stoic life of two sisters in Denmark with a celebratory, sumptuous feast prepared by their French refugee servant. Danish subtitled in English, and written by Out of Africa memoirist Isak Dinesen.

At 6:30 p.m., the multiple dimensions of food preparation are discussed by locavores Leah Lizarondo, CEO and co-founder of 412 Food Rescue, a food advocate working at the intersection of food and technology, and Sister Lyn Szymkiewicz, director of ecology and environment at the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden, who manages a 94-acres preserve including bee hives, chickens and community gardens.

June 28, 6:30 p.m.
The Man Who Knew Infinity
Directed by Matt Brown
Starring Dev Patel, Jeremy Irons, Malcolm Sinclair

 Beyond books: A study in the possibilities of independent thinking

The true-life story told by The Man Who Knew Infinity “is one of the most romantic stories in the history of mathematics,” says the U.S. Naval Academy website. “In 1913, the English mathematician G. H. Hardy received a strange letter from an unknown clerk in Madras, India. The ten-page letter contained about 120 statements of theorems on infinite series, improper integrals, continued fractions, and number theory. … Thus was Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920) introduced to the mathematical world.”

Ramanujan became a friend of noted Cambridge math theorist Hardy and lived in England at a time when India was a British colony and stereotypes reigned.

Dr. Harsh Mathur, a quantum physics professor at Case Western Reserve University, will provide context for the film by discussing the mathematician and his impact on the field. Mathur shares an Indian heritage with Ramanujan and has a special interest in physics history.

For these screenings and others, The Tull Family Theater is delighted to accommodate group sales for 10 or more people, discounted from $11 general admission to the $8.75 rate reserved usually for seniors 65 and older, children 10 and younger, and military and college students with IDs. Adults and youth are encouraged to attend.

For more about Science on Screen, please visit

The Coolidge Corner Theatre’s Science on Screen® series has enhanced film and scientific literacy with this popular program, which launched at the Coolidge in 2005. In partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and its pioneering nationwide film program, the Coolidge has expanded Science on Screen to dozens of cinemas nationwide, reaching a wide, non-specialized audience.

The Tull Family Theatera 501(c) (3) Pennsylvania nonprofit, is a film-based arts organization created to strengthen cultural, educational and entertainment experiences in the region northwest of Pittsburgh. Supported by diverse revenue streams from private, public, corporate and foundation funding, the theater counts the Allegheny Regional Asset District, Huntington Bank, Esmark and the Bouchard Family, more than 600 individuals and its patrons among its donors. Their support helps to sustain and expand programming at an independent cinema in Sewickley offering two screens and an event/performance space.

Contact: Karen Ferrick-Roman,, cell 412.671.1456