The festival is designed to bridge the general public with cutting-edge scientific achievements taking place around the world

 

The Athens-based NGO, Caid—Center for Society, Science and Art, has been committed to lifelong learning and the communication of science since its founding in 1992. The organization aims to disseminate science and its achievements to the general public, placing particular emphasis on inspiring and educating youth. Their events include student film screenings and educational scientific and cultural seminars, all with free entry for the public.

For the past nine consecutive years, the Center has been running the International Science Film Festival of Athens (ISFFA). ISFFA has become the premier event of Caid, awaited annually by the local public who attend free screenings of diverse international scientific documentaries over the seven days of the event. According to Foulie Leandri, Director and Founder of Caid, the festival is designed to bridge the general public with cutting-edge scientific achievements taking place around the world.

The Festival reflects the foundational goals of Caid— it aims to broaden the interest of young people and students of science (after all, Foulie says, only 10 percent of Greek people are interested in science), and stimulate the interest of new directors of science filmmaking (Greek science film production is limited).

 

In Caid’s Pangkrati neighborhood office in Athens, Foulie recounts her passion for science and ethical scientific inquiry that is made more possible by the human connection between science and art. “Artists bring creativity and humanism to science. And there are certain expressions of art that are necessary for the development of new things— like smart phones, computers, and machinery,” she says.

Caid was initially founded as one of the only industrial design programs in Greece

Caid was initially founded as one of the only industrial design programs in Greece. The organization promoted interdisciplinary training for students and offered a broad range of courses, including anatomy and economics. Foulie enjoys bringing new things to the country and has expanded the Center’s activities—continuously innovating and updating programs (including masters programs and collaborations with universities) to meet the scientific, technological and professional challenges of changing times.

Foulie stays current with the scientific community and has dedicated her life to sharing her enthusiasm of science with others.Years ago, Foulie met Maria Faceira, Science Communication Consultant for LAB TO MEDIA, who was organizing a Science Festival in Portugal. Foulie was inspired to do the same in Greece: “I created the International Science Film Festival of Athens and I really loved it because, like others, I learn a lot out of it. And I love that many children come to see the films and become very engaged in the experience.”

According to Foulie, it is essential to keep young people current on scientific happenings and include them in discussions about the ethical considerations of technology and scientific discovery. During the 2014 ISFFA in Athens last October, Caid hosted a student roundtable discussion about racism and violence as a parallel event of the Festival at the Cervantes Center in Athens (23 Mitropoleos, Syntagma). “Racism and violence are today’s problems. We have to talk about them and we must know how young people think about and experience them,” says Foulie. The students represented a range of disciplines and discussed issues involving citizenship, cyber racism, fear, and bullying.

 

Mrs Leandri, the festival organizer with director Yannis Smaragdis

Mrs Leandri, the festival organizer with director Yannis Smaragdis

 

The 2014 ISFFA was a success, but Foulie says the next festival will be fantastic because it will be near the sea in an open-air theatre. The 2015 International Science Film Festival of Paros-Athens will take place in Paros from August 31 until September 7, travel to Athens from October 29 until November 5 at the Cervantes Institute, and then move on to cultural centers and theaters around Greece.

Paros is a beautiful Cycladic island with a developed network of local transport and basic infrastructure (airport, hospital, etc.). The screenings will take place at the Cine Enastron in the Environmental and Cultural Park of Paros, an outdoor space that hosts musical and theatrical events and screens films next to the sea. The scientific films will be critiqued for the chance to win awards in six different areas: Best Film; Innovation and Technology; Art; Science Communication; and Special Mention 9th ISFFA Audience Award.

Preparations for the event began months ago— Caid chooses, translates and dubs the films, creates the catalogues, and manages the logistics of the Festival location and invitees. Foulie has self-funded the festival for years, and did not begin accepting minor sponsorship until 2011. She would like to see the festival grow but funds in Greece are limited.

…there is a lot of creation going on in Athens. People are also coming to the city from abroad and participating in bringing forth new expression of civilization through art

“Although the country is in bad shape psychologically and economically, there is a lot of creation going on in Athens. People are also coming to the city from abroad and participating in bringing forth new expression of civilization through art. This is good,” says Foulie. ISFFA acts as a platform where Greek artists can display their work and also collaborate and learn with foreign filmmakers and scientists. “In Greece, we don’t have a lot of industry, but the Greek artists are novel. If we think about the continuation of the Greek character and Greek development of the country, I think that creation of art—all arts— is important to maintain this character for the biodiversity of our world. If we all become the same, we are slaves.”

ISFFA brings forth Foulie’s vision of weaving together art and science and opens this union for free to the public. The thought-provoking and enriching films and discussions inspire civic engagement by youth and the general public, and encourage a creative humanism to scientific exploration— and to our daily lives.

See the full program of the festival here: 
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