Buzz: Argus-Courier editor hosting Science on Screen movie series

From an unsung paleontologist finding love among the fossils to a swarm of hungry sharks in a cyclone, entertaining film series pairs science-themed movies with lively guest interviewees.|

For the third year in a row, with 2020 and 2021 somewhat shortened by a certain science-fiction-come-true pandemic, Petaluma’s David Templeton — the Argus-Courier’s Community editor — is hosting Science on Screen, a monthly series of movies and conversations presented by the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael. The series showcases films with interesting scientific ideas (though sometimes pretty wacky ones, as you’ll see as you keep reading), and pairs them with a post-film guest who is interviewed on stage by Templeton, explaining, expanding and sometimes challenging the science exhibited in the movies.

Launching the first half of the 2022 series is a program titled “Celebrating Unsung Women of Science Through Stage and Screen,” taking place on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 7 p.m. with a screening of the acclaimed 2020 film “Ammonite” (with Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan) followed by a conversation with the widely popular San Francisco playwright Lauren Gunderson (“Christmas at Pemberley,” “Silent Sky,” etc.), Known for plays that either expand on classic fictional stories or illuminate the lives of scientific women famous and forgotten, Gunderson will help unpack the true story of Mary Anning, the groundbreaking real-life 19th century paleontologist at the center of “Ammonite.”

The series continues on Tuesday, March 22, 7 p.m — that’s National Science on Screen Night — with a screening of the 2006 Charles Darwin biopic “Creation” (with Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly) and a talk with science author Emily Willingham (“Phallacy: Life Lessons From the Animal Penis“). The program is titled “How Sex Changes the World Through Evolution, Genetics and Love.”

After that it’s “Destroying the World with Style and Fun (Science Taken to Extremes)” on Thursday, April 21, 7 p.m. The preposterously entertaining “Sharknado” will be screened, and the guest is a local science fiction author whose name is currently being kept under wraps. Then it’s “Tripping with Neanderthals in the New Age” (Thursday, May 19, 7 p.m. with journalist-author and hallucinogenics expert Don Lattin, discussing the visionarily bonkers 1980 film “Altered States.”

And finally, it’s a program titled “’Soylent Green’: How to Feed the World Without Eating Your Neighbor,” featuring a screening of that very same 1972 futuristic shocker, with a representative of the San Francisco/Marin Food Bank discussing the science and sociology of food insecurity and how the world might avoid the fate depicted in the classic film. That one is on Thursday, June 16, 7 p.m.

The series is made possible by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Tickets are $12 per film, or $30 for a 5-movie pass. The are discounts for members of the California Film Institute. For more information or to purchase tickets visit. Science on Screen

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