InScience: a science film festival (online)
MAASTRICHT. Deep brain stimulation is hot, and can help with compulsive disorders, depressions, epilepsy, and in particular in patients for whom there are no more treatment options available. It may seem like a brand-new technology, but it’s not. American neurologist Robert Heath experimented with it in the nineteen-sixties, even though his experiments were not acceptable from an ethical point of view. Heath placed electrodes deep into the brain of a man in order to cure him of his homosexuality – considered a psychiatric illness at the time - and to increase the feelings of happiness.
Heath is the focal point of the documentary Hunting for Hedonia (2019), which is shown during the online InScience film festival. Since 2018, an excerpt of the originally Nijmegen programme can be seen in Lumière, this year only online from 16 to 18 November.
The other documentary - Oliver Sacks: His Own Life (2019) is cancelled - is Coded Bias (2020). In this film, media researcher and film maker Shalini Kantayya discovers that the facial recognition software doesn’t always work on her. What appears to be the problem: her dark skin colour. She subsequently exposed the implicit prejudices of artificial intelligence. Algorithms are apparently the work of white males.
Why these two documentaries? “Because they are the best films from what Nijmegen has to offer,” says Barbara Strating, programme maker at Studium Generale. “That is the first thing we look for, the script, camera work. But of course they also have to be scientifically relevant. Moreover, there has to be a researcher available in Maastricht to introduce the film. This year, we have philosopher Katleen Gabriëls (Coded Bias) and clinical neuropsychologist Annelien Duits (Hunting for Hedonia). The introductions will be shown via a live stream.”
The total selection consists of ten films – extremely limited because of COVID-19; last year, InScience had forty films. Strating: “Another recommendation is Picture a Scientist (2020), in which three women are followed who encounter sexism, intimidation and discrimination in science. They are striving hard to radically change this culture.”
InScience film festival, from 16 to 18 November in Lumière; tickets cost 9.80 euro, 5 euro for students