Science on Screen


The Science on Screen series (SoS) was launched in 2005 by the Coolidge Corner Theatre and has since grown into a national program featured in over 70 cinemas. SoS strives to shrink the gaps in science literacy by pairing classic and current films with local scientific professionals, tackling issues from gene editing to climate change.

This is the Nickelodeon Theatre’s fifth year participating in SoS and we are excited to showcase our film selection and hear from some of the city’s brightest minds. Our goal with this year’s films, Her, Primer, and Inventing Tomorrow, is to explore technological advancements that were once deemed futuristic but are quickly becoming a present reality, as well as the effects of these technologies on our physical and psychological environments.

Science on Screen is an initiative of the Coolidge Corner Theatre with major support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Design for the Nickelodeon’s Science on Screen series by Daniel Machado.


Jan 16

Inventing Tomorrow

Inventing Tomorrow follows six young scientists from Indonesia, Hawaii, India, and Mexico as they tackle some of the most complex environmental issues facing humanity today –right in their own backyards. Each student is preparing original scientific research that he or she will defend at ISEF, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Framed against the backdrop of the severe environmental threats we now face, we immerse the audience in a global view of the planetary crisis, through the eyes of the generation that will be affected by it most.

Considered the Olympics of high school science fairs, ISEF is the largest gathering of high school scientists in the world, attracting approximately 1,800 finalists from over 75 countries, regions, and territories. All the finalists want to do a good job, but the heart of the story isn’t about whether they go home with an award. As they take water samples from contaminated lakes, dig up the dirt in public parks, board illegal pirate mining ships, and test their experiments in a lab, we see each student display a tenacious curiosity, and a determination to build a better future. Motivated by the desire to protect their homes, these young people are asking questions about the issues they observe in their communities and proposing innovative solutions to fix them.

Directed by Laura Nix.

Featuring a conversation with Dr. Greg Carbone (Professor, University of South Carolina), Dr. Monica Barra (Professor, School of the Earth, Ocean & Environment and Department of Anthropology, USC), Pippa Richter (Senior at AC Flora High School), and Hayle Turner (Senior at Richland Northeast High School) about the causes, repercussions, and prevention of climate change and pollution in the Southeast.

Greg Carbone’s research includes climate variability and change and climate impacts. He is an investigator with the Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments (CISA) program, a NOAA-sponsored center designed to work with decision makers to improve the use of climate information in resource management. His most recent work exams the spatial and temporal nature of drought and the use of climate change scenarios for decision making. Carbone has won university teaching awards for his instruction of weather and climate courses.

Monica Barra is an assistant professor in the School of the Earth, Ocean & Environment and Department of Anthropology at the University of South Carolina. Her scholarly and creative work focuses on environmental change, science, race, and inequality in the US Gulf South. Most recently, she has worked with natural scientists, engineers, and community groups living on the edge of Louisiana's coastal land loss crisis to devise ways of confronting the unequal impacts of environmental restoration and climate change on historically disenfranchised coastal communities.

Pippa Richter is a senior at A.C. Flora High School. She is the president and founder of the Environmental Club at A.C. Flora which is currently working to establish a system for recycling at the school. Her interests include computer science and molecular biology, especially as they relate to genetics and artificial photosynthesis. She will be attending the California Institute of Technology as a freshman in the fall of 2019.

Hayle Turner is a senior at Richland Northeast High School who has studied and presented on environmental discrimination. She has represented RNE on the Model United Nations UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme). 

Jan 23


Set in a near-future Los Angeles, Her follows Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a complex, soulful man who makes his living writing touching, personal letters for other people. Heartbroken after the end of a long relationship, he becomes intrigued with a new, advanced operating system, which promises to be an intuitive and unique entity in its own right.

Upon initiating it, he is delighted to meet “Samantha,” a bright, female voice (Scarlett Johansson) who is insightful, sensitive and surprisingly funny. As her needs and desires grow, in tandem with his own, their friendship deepens into an eventual love for each other.

Directed by Spike Jonze.

This screening will be followed by a talkback with Sergey Razin (CTO, Swampfox Technologies Inc.) and Adrian Williams (IT Coordinator and Projectionist, Nickelodeon Theatre) discussing the feasibility, economics, and ethics of artificial intelligence.

Sergey Razin is responsible for driving product strategy and innovation at Swampfox Technologies Inc. As a noted authority in advanced analytics and machine learning, Sergey pioneered and holds patents in the application of these technologies in the areas of IT security, media, and speech recognition. He is currently leading the development of innovative solutions based on these technologies that enable contact centers. Prior to joining Swampfox, Sergey was the CTO of SIOS where he pioneered products in AIOps space, EMC CTO office where he drove initiations in areas of network protocols, cloud and storage management, metrics, and analytics. Sergey has also served as Principal Investigator (PI), a leader in research, development, and architecture in areas of big data analytics, speech recognition, telephony, and networking. He is a professor of AI and Entrepreneurial Engineering as well as Industry Advisory board member at the University of South Carolina and holds a Ph.D. in computer science from the Moscow State Scientific Center of Informatics. He also holds a BS in computer science from the University of South Carolina.

As projectionist for the Nickelodeon, Adrian Williams quality tests hundreds of films and pieces of media. As IT Coordinator, Adrian handles general maintenance for the theatre's two major projectors and equipment, as well as managing the technical organization of presentations and community events.  Adrian is the heart of all things tech for the theatre. In addition to managing technology for the Nick, Adrian is a senior at the University of South Carolina, working on his Bachelor's in Media Arts with a minor in Film and Media Studies. As a member of the student led-organization 1080c, Adrian partners with other aspiring filmmakers in creating short films and documentaries.

Jan 30


Intellectual engineers Aaron (Shane Carruth) and Abe (David Sullivan) build and sell error-checking technology with the help of their friends Robert (Casey Gooden) and Phillip (Anand Upadhyaya). But when Aaron and Abe accidentally invent what they think is a time machine, Abe builds a version capable of transporting a human and puts the device to the test. As the two friends obsess over their creation, they discover the dark consequences of their actions.

Directed by Shane Carruth.

The post-screening discussion with Dr. Brett Altschul (Physicist, University of South Carolina), Qiana Whitted (Professor of English and African American Studies), and Alice Lilitu (Nickelodeon Theater Staff) will focus on the possibility of time travel, speculative physics, and astronomy.

Brett Altschul is a physicist at the University of South Carolina, with special interests in exotic extensions of known physics. After a childhood of reading and writing science fiction, he earned undergraduate degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in mathematics and physics, followed by a Ph.D. in 2003. Since 2007, he has been a faculty member at USC in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. One of the major focuses of his research is understanding "How well do we really know the basic things we think we know?" For example, Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity predicts that all particles should have identical maximum velocities, all equal to the speed of light; Prof. Altschul has studied how well we truly know that the actual maximum speeds of electrons, protons, and light rays are actually the same.

Qiana Whitted is Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of South Carolina. Her current research examines representations of race, history, and genre in comic books and graphic novels. She is Editor of Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society and Chair of the International Comic Arts Forum. Her forthcoming book, EC Comics: Race, Shock, and Social Protest, will be published by Rutgers University Press in March 2019.

Alice Lilitu is a Satanic witch in the tradition of those who would wander into the forest at night to commune with demons. She performs multi-media spectacles with the occult art collective Devil’s Playground. Find her at the liminal edge of the city for conversation in the Mysteries.