Narrative Connections: The Award-winning Work of
Scientist-Turned-Filmmaker Randy Olson
February 12-14, 2013
Funded through the generosity of the Wendy and James Abrams Fund
for Environmental Education
Hosted by Brown's Environmental Change Initiative, Center for Environmental Studies, Departments of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Geological Sciences, Molecular and Cellular Biology, History, and the John NIcholas Brown Center for Public Humanities.
Tuesday, February 12 - " Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus"
Wednesday, February 13 - A Critical Approach to Storytelling for the Science World
Wednesday, February 13 - "Climate Skeptics: They’re Here; They’re ‘Queer;’ Get Used to Them"
Wednesday, February 13 -"Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy"
Thursday, February 14 - Sizzle Q&A
Thursday, February 14 - "Colonel Stubborn: The Last Bastard of Bataan Fights On"
Tuesday, February 12, DARWIN DAY
||Screening in Martinos Auditorium,
Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts:
Filmmaker and former biologist Dr. Randy Olson's documentary film probes the great communications struggle around evolution vs. intelligent design. Olson's humorous, enlightening and sometimes sobering journey includes in-depth interviews with top experts on intelligent design, school board members, and lawyers, and footage from an evening with evolutionists who gather for a game of poker and evolution debate. "Flock of Dodos” poses the question of, "Who are the dodos?" and lets the viewer decide. The National Review called the film "an important accomplishment," and Smithsonian Magazine picked it for their list of, "Ten Science Movies We Loved From The 2000's.
||Panel discussion, with:
- Erika Edwards, Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University
- Joseph Levine, Science educator, writer, and producer
- Ken Miller, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Brown University
- Dov Sax, Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University
The Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, Lower Lobby
Wednesday, February 13
||Question and Answer
A Critical Approach to Storytelling for the Science World
with Randy Olson, Filmmaker
at The Science Center, Science Library, Third floor
||Lecture by Filmmaker Randy Olson:
Climate Skeptics: They’re Here;
They’re ‘Queer;’ Get Used to Them
The Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts,
||Panel discussion featuring:
- Amanda Lynch, Professor of Geological Sciences, Brown University
- Sunshine Menezes, Executive Director, Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting, University of Rhode Island
- Stephen Porder, Assistant Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University
||Reception in Studio One
||Screening in Martinos Auditorium:
Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy
written by Randy Olson and Ifeanyi Njoku and directed by Randy Olson
The film "Sizzle" is a hybrid of three genres -- mockumentary, documentary and reality. While initially met with a wave of disapproval by many in the science community (with comments like, "There's no place for comedy with such a serious issue") it received solid praise in the film community -- Variety called it, "An exceedingly clever vehicle for making science engaging," Cinemasource called it, "Brilliant filmmaking," and the Arizona Daily Star says it's, "Laugh out loud" funny.
As a mockumentary, the movie is about a scientist-turned-filmmaker (Randy Olson) trying to make a documentary about global warming that features his beloved scientists, but the only sources of funding he can find are two flaky Hollywood producers who want the host of the film to be someone like Tom Cruise (not a scientist, but a Scientologist and, "most people don't know the difference"). The movie was criticized in part for allowing a number of climate skeptics to speak on camera. But after the November, 2009 attack on climate science (dubbed "Climategate") the film, while still being solidly pro-science, turns out to be one of the only places where you can hear the voices of both sides of the climate controversy, thus making for a popular evening of viewing and discussion.
Thursday, February 14
||Question and Answer with Randy Olson, Filmmaker
at the Center for Environmental Studies, 135 Angell Street
Colonel Stubborn: The Last Bastard of Bataan Fights On
Produced by Randy Olson and edited by Robert DeMaio
With the voices of Richard Dreyfuss, Martin Sheen and Brian Dennehy
Colonel John Olson was a decorated hero of World War II in the Pacific, loyal husband, father of five, and enjoying his retirement in a beautiful lakeside home. And then, at age seventy-one, he walked out on everything—his beautiful wife of forty-two years, his children, his friends—everything. Why?
In the search for answers the filmmaker, his son Randy Olson, begins by learning what really happened to him in World War II. He had been a prisoner of war of the Japanese. He was on the Bataan Death March. He was the record keeper at camp O’Donnell where the death rate reached 500 men a day. But there was more--details he never shared with his family or friends, letters from the Japanese War Crimes Trials, accusations and explanations that would cast him in a completely different light. To fully understand the horrors of his war experiences, eight of the last survivors of the Bataan Death March, all now in their nineties yet stunningly fit, tell the tales for one last time of what they endured.
Together with John Olson’s ex-wife, Muffy, the former model and party girl turned loyal army wife, and accompanied by his friends, the picture of a complex man emerges—a man who was both war hero as well as his own worst enemy.
- Kerry Smith, Associate Professor of History and Chair, Department of East Asian Studies, Brown University
- Sen. John Alexander Patterson, President Emeritus, Philippine Scouts Heritage Society
- M. Tracie Shea, Professor of Psychiatry & Human Behavior, Brown University
Randy Olson is the writer/director of the feature films Flock of Dodos: The Evolution–Intelligent Design Circus (Tribeca ’06, Showtime ’07), Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy (Outfest ’08), and author of Don’t be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style (Island Press ’09). He focuses on the challenges involved in communicating science to the general public, and the attacks on mainstream science in fields such as evolution and climate science. Randy is a former marine biologist who achieved tenure at the University of New Hampshire before changing careers. Randy obtained his M.F.A. in cinema from the University of Southern California. He is an adjunct faculty member at the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies at USC. His production company, Prairie Starfish Productions, is based at Raleigh Studios in Los Angeles.