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About the Festival

Science Film Festival - Trailer 2018
© Goethe-Institut Thailand
The Science Film Festival is a celebration of science communication in Southeast Asia, South Asia, Africa and the Middle East: In cooperation with local partners it promotes science literacy and facilitates awareness of contemporary scientific, technological and environmental issues through international films with accompanying educational activities. The festival presents scientific issues accessibly and entertainingly to a broad audience and demonstrates that science can be fun. The event has grown considerably since its first edition in 2005, becoming the largest event of its kind worldwide. The Science Film Festival is organized in each country by the Goethe-Institut in close cooperation with local partners. The festival relies on the collaboration and active participation of science education institutions, schools, universities, ministries and cultural centers in each of the host countries, as well as the enthusiasm of their staff and other partners, such as NGOs, educators and student volunteer groups, who facilitate the screenings and activities. 

 

About the Festival

History of the
Science Film Festival

2017 - 2011

2017 – Anthropocene: Welcome to the Age of Humans

In 2017, the Science Film Festival was organized in Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Lao P.D.R., Malaysia, Myanmar, Namibia, Palestine, the Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam. It thereby established itself in two further regions with South Asia and Sub-Sahara Africa joining the initiative.

The festival reached over one million viewers (1 142 686) for the first time in 19 countries in Southeast Asia, South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The outcome further strengthens its position as the largest scientific film festival worldwide and contributes to its recognition as one of the most effective science popularization initiatives in the countries in which it takes place.

Welcome to the Age of Humans – agriculture, trade, transportation, and industry: As long as humans have existed we have been utilizing and altering our environment. Industrialization, in particular, has contributed to the unmistakable and often irreversible fingerprint that we are making upon the Earth. Today, the human imprint is so deep and pervasive that scientists, policymakers, and society are considering whether human-caused changes are affecting the geological record over the long term – whether we are, in fact, living in a new geological era called the Anthropocene. Through selected topics such as urbanization, mobility, nature, evolution, food, and human-machine interaction, the Science Film Festival 2017 explored the past, present, and future of humanity.

Focus: Anthropocene
Science Film Festival - Thema 2017: Anthropocene

2016 – Material Science

In 2016, the Science Film Festival was organized in Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Lao P.D.R., Malaysia, Myanmar, Oman, Palestine, the Philippines, Qatar, Sudan, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam. The event took place internationally from October 01 to December 18 with local dates varying by country within this period. The event reached nearly one million viewers (967 659) in 16 countries in Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Throughout human history, new materials have revolutionized our world. Whenever craftspeople, manufacturers and scientists got hold of new materials it allowed them to create new things that had not been possible before. But what are the next new materials that will change our world?

You could call material science the “study of stuff”! Just about everything you use every day - the shoes you wear, the dishes you eat from, the phone you use – it’s all made of different kinds of substances. Under- standing how the materials are put together, how they can be used, how they can be changed and made better to do more amazing things – even creating completely new kinds of substances: that’s what materials science is all about.

Some materials are so new that the scientists who dis- covered them hardly know what to do with them - they only know they might yet transform our lives. Scientists are now turning to computers to design materials and work out their properties before even going anywhere near a laboratory. Some of the newest materials that are getting scientists fired up exist only in theory. The goal now is to make them a reality. But each has the potential to be transformative. In 2016, the Science Film Festival invited audiences to explore the past, present and future of material science.

Focus: Material Science
Science Film Festival - Thema 2016: Material Science

2015 – UN International Year of Light

In 2015, the Science Film Festival was organized in Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Indonesia, Jordan, Lao P.D.R., Malaysia, Myanmar, Oman, Palestine, the Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Sudan, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam. The event was an official Collaborating Partner of the UN International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies 2015 and took place internationally from October 01 to December 20 with local dates varying by country within this period. The event reached over 750 000 visitors in 14 countries in Southeast Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, as well as pilot screenings in Burkina Faso and Russia.

On the occasion of the 10-Year Anniversary of the Science Film Festival, the Award Ceremony for the 2014 edition was held in the Centre for New Technologies in the Deutsches Museum Munich on February 26, 2015. The cooperation between the world’s largest science and technology museum and the world’s largest scientific film festival marked the first appearance of the event in Europe.

Throughout his life the German writer and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe had a deep fascination for the physical and metaphorical effects of light on humans. From sunsets to rainbows, from the blues of the sky and the ocean, to the remarkable range of colors of plants and animals, our first experiences of light and color are through what we see in the natural world. However, the importance of light reaches far beyond life on Earth. Through major scientific discoveries and technological advancements, light has helped us to see and better understand the universe. 2015 marks an important milestone in the history of physics: one hundred years ago, in November 1915, Albert Einstein wrote down the famous field equations of General Relativity, which showed through a series of experiments centered on the concept of light, how light was at the center of the very structure of space and time. All over the globe, people are using light to discover solutions for society’s most pressing problems. From 3-D printing to bringing energy solutions to developing regions, light is key in driving economies and encouraging development in the 21st Century. It has revolutionized medicine, opened up international communication via the Internet, and continues to be central to linking cultural, economic and political aspects of the global society.

Focus: Light
Science Film Festival - Thema 2015: Light

​2014 – Future Technologies

The Science Film Festival in 2014 included countries in North Africa for the first time and broke the half a million viewers’ mark. The event took place in Cambodia, Egypt, Indonesia, the Gulf Region, Lao P.D.R., Jordan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Palestine, the Philippines, Sudan, Thailand and Vietnam and reached 580 000 visitors.

In 2014, the Science Film Festival turned to the future and showcased the technologies that will shape tomorrow’s world. Scientific discovery and technological innovation are accelerating at an unprecedented speed and the media is constantly injecting our vocabulary with new words such as gentech, nanotech, synthetic biology, graphene, algae fuel, quantum computers and other concepts, which used to be the domain of expert researchers, but are soon to have an impact on our daily lives and the world we live in.

In such rapidly changing times it can be a challenge to keep up with the exciting scientific and technological developments. What promises and what dangers do these breakthroughs hold in store for us? To help make sense of the impending changes we can expect in the next ten years and beyond, the Science Film Festival seeked to explore the broad spectrum of innovative technologies at the cutting edge of science though exemplary film and television content from around the world and numerous activities.

Focus:
Future Technologies
Science Film Festival - Thema 2014: Future Technologies

​2013 – Climate Change Series:
Energy and Sustainability

The Science Film Festival in 2013 expanded to the Middle East for the first time and included Cambodia, Indonesia, Jordan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Palestine, the Philippines, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam. The event reached over 440 000 visitors in 11 countries in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

The Science Film Festival concluded its climate change series by exploring the pivotal field of energy and sustainability in 2013. We looked at what solutions science and technology can offer in safeguarding the resources and benefits of the present for future generations and why civilization might be facing its greatest collective challenge in history this century. What kind of energy do we want to use in the future and what challenges await us over the coming decades are some of the fundamental questions the festival seeked to address this year. Our need for sustainable thinking has never been greater and perhaps nowhere else more so than in our production and consumption of energy. The choices we make today will affect generations to come.

The cost and availability of energy significantly impacts our quality of life, the productivity of economies, the relationships between nations and the balance of our natural environment. The Science Film Festival seeked to contribute to this crucial debate and to encourage the next generation of citizens and leaders to engage with this decisive topic and to be inspired and informed by films and programs on the subject from around the world.

Focus:
Energy and Sustainability
Science Film Festival - Thema 2013: Energy and Sustainability

​2012 – Climate Change Series:
UN International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life’

In 2012, the Science Film Festival completed its regionalization in Southeast Asia with the inclusion of Myanmar and Laos bringing the extent of the festival to eight countries. The theme was “Water” and the event reached 370 000 visitors in the region, securing it as the most visited scientific film event in the world.

Access to water and sanitation is a precondition to life and a declared human right. Water is vitally important to sustainable development – from health and nutrition, to gender equity and economics. Over the coming years, our water-related challenges will become more urgent. The increasing demands of a growing population and rapidly developing global economy, combined with the effects of climate change, will exacerbate lack of access to water and sanitation for domestic uses. In fact, many experts argue that an unpredictable supply of water could constrain socio-economic progress in the future. The United Nations General Assembly, in December 2003, proclaimed the years 2005-2015 as the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life’. Its primary goal was to promote efforts to fulfill international commitments made on water and water related issues in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

Focus: Water for Life
Science Film Festival - Thema 2012: Water

​2011 – Climate Change Series:
UN International Year of Forests

In 2011, the Science Film Festival was initiated in Vietnam and Malaysia. The theme was “Forests” and the event reached over 240 000 visitors in Southeast Asia.

The year 2011 was declared the International Year of Forests by the United Nations to raise awareness and strengthen the sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests for the benefit of current and future generations. Forests are an integral part of global sustainable development. More than 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods with some 300 million living in them. The forest product industry is a source of economic growth and employment, with global forest products traded internationally is estimated at $327 billion.

It is estimated that every year 130,000 km² of the world's forests are lost due to deforestation. Conversion to agricultural land, unsustainable harvesting of timber, unsound land management practices, and creation of human settlements are the most common reasons for this loss of forested areas. Deforestation also accounts for up to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Forests provide habitats to about two-thirds of all species on earth, and that deforestation of closed tropical rainforests could account for biodiversity loss of as many as 100 species a day.

Focus: Forest
Science Film Festival - Thema 2011: Forests

2010 - 2005

​2010 – Climate Change Series:
UN International Year of Biodiversity

In 2010, the Science Film Festival continued its regional expansion by initiating editions in Indonesia and the Philippines. The festival also commenced its multiyear series focus on climate change with the theme this year being “Biodiversity” in cooperation with the UN International Year of Biodiversity.

Humans are part of nature's rich diversity and have the power to protect or destroy it. Biodiversity, the variety of life on Earth, is essential to sustaining the living networks and systems that provide us all with health, food, fuel and the vital services our lives depend on. Human activity is causing the diversity of life on Earth to be lost at a greatly accelerated rate. These losses are irreversible and damage the life support systems we depend on. But we can prevent them. The UN declared 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity, calling on world leaders and all in a position to help to take action to safeguard life on earth. Adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2002 this target set out to significantly reduce the rate of loss of biodiversity by 2010.

The event reached 130 000 visitors in Southeast Asia with 88 000 in Thailand, 12 500 in Indonesia, 9 500 in Cambodia and 20 000 in the Philippines.

Focus: Biodiversity
Science Film Festival - Thema 2010: Biodiversity

​2009 – Astronomy: 400-year
Anniversary of the Telescope

In 2009, the Science Film Festival began its regionalization to neighboring countries with the inclusion of Cambodia. The UN International Year of Astronomy 2009 marked the 400th anniversary of the year that astronomer Galileo Galilei began fashioning his own telescopes and turning them to the heavens. Before long, he started to characterize the surface of the moon, discovered a quartet of Jupiter's moons, and began to revolutionize our view of Earth's place in the universe.

Furthermore, a newsletter from October 1608 describes both the visit of the first Siamese diplomatic mission to Europe and the first documented demonstration of a telescope worldwide. At the time of the demonstration of the telescope a Siamese embassy, sent by King Ekathotsarot (r. 1605-1610), has just arrived in The Hague, the first Thai embassy ever to visit Europe. As the Siamese were the official representatives of the King of Ayutthaya, it is not unlikely that they also have seen the telescope or even had a look through this instrument. If so, they were the first Asians ever to see (or look through) a telescope. Exactly 180 years later King Mongkut calculated the circumstances for a total eclipse of the sun on 18 August, 1868 near Prachuab Kirikhan. His calculations, based on modern books, telescopes and other equipment ordered from London, proved correct, but during his sojourn King Mongkut contracted malaria and he died 1 October 1868, being probably the first royal victim of astronomical aspirations. As a remembrance of his correct eclipse calculation, August 18 is celebrated in Thailand as the National Day of Science.

The event reached 5 500 visitors in its initial year in Cambodia and 112 000 in Thailand.

Focus: Astronomy
Science Film Festival - Thema 2009: Astronomy

​2008 – Science Edutainment:
Knowledge Through Entertainment

In 2008, the Science Film Festival expanded to over 20 provinces in Thailand and reached 88 000 visitors. The theme this year presented the broad subject of “Science Edutainment”, which exemplifies the methodology of the Science Film Festival of combining education with entertainment.

Edutainment, the successful integration of education into the entertainment environment of television, is not a trivialization of real education. Instead, the paradigm of interactivity for education in broadcast TV formats offers sophisticated, personalized, exciting and innovative ways to present traditional academic disciplines.

The festival optimized its profile to reflect the target group with the greatest interest in the festival: primary and secondary school students.

Focus:
Science Edutainment
Science Film Festival - Thema 2008: Edutainment

​2007 – Bionics: The Lotus Effect

In 2007, the Science Film Festival initiated the IPST Traveling Festival and for the first time reached five additional provinces in addition to the capital Bangkok. The theme this year was “Bionics – The Lotus Effect”.

In 1975 discovered the botanists Barthlott and Neinhuis from the University of Bonn the self cleansing capability of the Lotus flower. The scientists observed that Lotus flowers get rid of mud and dirt while unfolding their leaves in the morning. So they examined the leave surface structure of the Lotus with a scanning electron microscope discovering a not as expected smooth but a very rough structure. These effects reduce the strength of adhesion and vests the lotus flower with a super hydrophobic surface. As the Lotus effect has been introduced into Bionics it has found its way to commercial use. Today we can find the Lotus effect in the textile industry producing hydrophobic cloth. Other fields of use include glass, plastics, painted surfaces, metals and ceramics.

The event was visited by 44 000 young viewers – already establishing it as the largest event of its kind in the world in terms of audience figures with the third Science Film Festival edition.

Focus: Bionics
Science Film Festival - Thema 2007: Bionics

​2006 – Nanotechnology:
Carbon 60 ‘Buckyball’

In 2006, the Science Film Festival focused on the theme of “Carbon 60 and Nanotechnology” in honor of the 60th Anniversary Celebrations of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej's accession to the throne.

Buckyballs, also called fullerenes, were one of the first nanoparticles discovered. This discovery happened in 1985 by a trio of researchers working out of Rice University named Richard Smalley, Harry Kroto, and Robert Curl. Buckyballs are composed of carbon atoms linked to three other carbon atoms by covalent bonds. However, the carbon atoms are connected in the same pattern of hexagons and pentagons you find on a soccer ball, giving a buckyball the spherical structure. The most common buckyball contains 60 carbon atoms and is sometimes called C60. The covalent bonds between carbon atoms make buckyballs very strong, and the carbon atoms readily form covalent bonds with a variety of other atoms. Buckyballs are used in composites to strengthen material. Buckyballs have the interesting electrical property of being very good electron acceptors, which means they accept loose electrons from other materials. This feature is useful, for example, in increasing the efficiency of solar cells in transforming sunlight into electricity.

The event partnered with further venues in Bangkok, such as the National Science Museum Thailand, and was able to reach 11 000 visitors in its second year.

Focus: Nanotechnology
Science Film Festival - Thema 2006: Nanotechnologie

​2005 – Einstein:
Never Stop Asking Questions

In 2005, the Science Film Festival was initiated in Thailand by the Goethe-Institut and the Institute for the Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology (IPST). The theme of the inaugural year was “Einstein – Never Stop Asking Questions” to celebrate the 100 Year Anniversary of Einstein’s so called ‘Miracle Year’ in which over the course of four months, March through June 1905, Albert Einstein produced four papers that revolutionized science.

One explained how to measure the size of molecules in a liquid, a second posited how to determine their movement, and a third described how light comes in packets called photons—the foundation of quantum physics and the idea that eventually won him the Nobel Prize. A fourth paper introduced special relativity, leading physicists to reconsider notions of space and time that had sufficed since the dawn of civilization. Then, a few months later, almost as an afterthought, Einstein pointed out in a fifth paper that matter and energy can be interchangeable at the atomic level specifically, that E=mc2, the scientific basis of nuclear energy and the most famous mathematical equation in history.

The event reached 5 000 visitors in Bangkok in its first year and laid the foundations for the methodology of the Science Film Festival to combine screenings with hands-on activities.

Focus: Einstein
Science Film Festival - Theme 2005: Einstein

Dive Deeper

Submission

Submission

The Science Film Festival accepts entries every year from mid-January until the end of March.

Learning materials

Learning Resources

The Science Film Festival offers suggested learning activities for films screened at the festival aimed at young audiences. 

Awards

Awards

The Science Film Festival bestows six awards annually.