Scinema 04 - Festival of Science Film  

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Film Notes
Special Guest
Special Events

2004 Program

Backyard ScienceBackyard Science

New to ABC Television, Backyard Science is a fun and educational series for children aged 6-12 years. Ripping science out of the laboratory and taking it to the real world, this is science for kids BY kids. Demonstrating easy, practical and cool activities that anyone can do, Backyard Science explains the mysteries of life, the universe and everything – all from the backyard, kitchen, beach, bathroom or garden!

Producer: Richard Campbell
Running time: 15 mins
Distributor: Beyond International
Website: science beyond.pdf
Hi-Res images available: order here
English language

Beaumaris Zoo Tasmania and the Last Thylacine

The Beaumaris Zoo on the Queens Domain, Hobart is the site where the last Tasmanian tiger (Thylacinus cynocepalus) died in captivity, a fact which is a reflection on the times and on the nature of zoo keeping early last century. Today the site is derelict and contaminated as a result of later use by the military for fuel storage.

Director, Producer, Editor, Cinematographer: Will Nuttall
Writer: Peter Nuttall
Sound: Joe Nuttall
Cast: Narrated by Rowan Dix
Running time: 9 mins 20 secs 
English language

Big Girls Don't CryBig Girls Don't Cry

A heart-rending insight into the disease of end-stage renal failure in remote and rural communities. Mariah Swan (from Moree) gets a kidney transplant at 18 months of age and now we visit her when she is 10 years old. Glenda Kerinuaia (from Bathurst Island) chooses to self-administer Peritoneal Dialysis so that she can participate in the cultural and family life of Tiwi Island. Essie Coffey OAM (from Brewarrina) speaks poignantly of the hardship associated with Haemodialysis. Essie tells us of her cultural dilemma in receiving a kidney transplant. Eventually with her weakened immune system, the common cold claimed her life. Renal physicians tell us what it means for Indigenous Australians living with debilitating renal disease in remote and rural communities

Director, Writer, Co-Producer: Darrin Ballangarry
Producer: Priscilla Collins
Editor: Alison Croft
Running time: 26 mins
Distributor: Ronin Films
English language

Caden Walla

This short narrative production is based on a children’s story. Told in the traditional Aboriginal language of Hopevale, ‘Gugu Yimithirr,’ this story is for the children in the Hopevale community. On coming across a camp of Yigis (spirit people), Caden learns to respect the land.

Director, Editor, Sound, Cinematography: Caden Pearson, Tilda Ramsay, Mel Harling
Producer & Writer: Caden Pearson
Cast: Keirnan Pearson, Javanna Pearson
Running time: 8 mins 
Gugu Yimithirr language, English subtitles


CHAMELIORATE is the metaphorical story of four characters who are consumed by the colour and ambience of music, one by one escaping their empty lives.

Director, Producer, Writer, Editor, Sound, Cinematography: James Baker, Sam Matthews, Denley Bihari, Mike Henry (with Simon Mitchell and David Tang)
Cast: James Baker, Sam Matthews, Denley Bihari, Mike Henry
Running time: 4 mins
Awards: “Shoot the Fringe” iMovie DV challenge (SA)
English language

The Curiosity ShowCuriosity Show, The

A cult classic in Australia. In the 1970s and 80s, Rob and Dean explained the wonders of science to a whole generation of Aussie kids. They made science, and skivvies, sexy - in fact, the boys opened the very first SCINEMA in 2000 with a show we called SEXY SKIVVY SCIENCE.

Cast: Rob Morrison and Dean Hutton
Running time: 22 mins
Distributor: Banksia Productions, Adelaide

Deepest DesiresDeepest Desires

Our instincts drive all of us to have sex - and so potentially to have children. But the way men and women go about this is very different. Two actors were sent on to a London University campus with hidden cameras to ask a simple question: "Will you sleep with me?" One is a woman asking men and the other a man asking women. The results could not be more different. Just as in the original experiment (by Elaine Hatfield of the University of Hawaii and Russ Clark of the University of North Texas) no women said yes but three-quarters of the men thought it sounded a good idea. The difference in men and women’s approach to sex has an evolutionary basis.

Director, Writer: Natasha Bondy
Producer: Jessica Cecil
Editor: Darren Jonussas
Sound: George Hitchens, Dave Williams, Andrew Yarne, Graham Ross
Cinematographer: Ian Salvage, Mike Garner, Alan Palmer, Randall Love
Cast: Hosted by Robert Winston
Running time: 59 mins
Distributor: BBC Worldwide Ltd

The Demon FaultDeamon Fault, The

Miners, enronmentalists, police, landowners and Aboriginal people come head to head in a deadly serious yet crazy battle over a gold mine, located in a sacred and ecologically sensitive region of Australia's fast-disappearing wilderness.
The spectacular Timbarra Plateau, south-east of Tenterfield, in the Great Dividing Range, is a rare high altitude suspended wetland: ten different forest types converge, surrounded on three sides by steep slopes and rivers.

Director, Producer: Elizabeth Tadic
Co-Producer: Selene Alcock
Editor: Karen Johnson
Narrator: Jack Thompson
Running time: 52 mins
Distributor: Ronin Films
English language

Designer VaginasDesigner Vaginas

Called ‘the new nose job’, this film looks at the growing industry of plastic surgery. Welcome to the world of vaginal surgery, a little known practice that many people still consider taboo. Some women have the surgery after a painful delivery, some use it to correct malformations that prevent satisfying sexual relations, and others simply want their sex organs to look like those of erotic film stars. The procedure is costly and the results not always what was expected, but women continue to spend small fortunes to get into a Beverly Hills clinic where most of these surgeries are performed.

Director, Producer: Nicola Black
Running time: 48 mins
Distributor: Blackwatch Productions
English language

Don't be a Drip, Save Every Drop

A group of young girls learn the value of conserving our most valuable resource – water.

Director: Isabel Mansfield
Producer, Writer, Editor, Sound: Year 5 class, St Hilda's School
Cinematographer: Liang-Zi Carr
Cast: Liang-Zi Carr, Nadia Jones, Rebecca Shillingford, Rachel Hoban, Elizabeth Bronsan, Isabel Mansfield, Sarah Valmadre
Running time: 3 mins
English language


In the early 1980's, as Australia became increasingly aware of environmental issues, ABC TV produced Earthwatch, targeted at a school-aged audience using young investigators to highlight contemporary science and enviro-policy.

Running time: 22 mins
Distributor: ABC TV
English language


Synopsis: Dr Frankenstein, a noted and respected doctor, is making his hourly rounds at the local hospital. The students at Firbank Grammar School mix science, Australian history and literary fiction in this production.

Director, Producer, Sound: Craig Duncan
Producer: Craig Duncan
Writer, Editor: Year 6 class, Firbank Grammar
Cast: Nicholas Freeland, Janelle Warner, Chantelle Radwan
Running time: 23 mins 
English language

The HacktivistsHacktivists, The

THE HACKTIVISTS is a one hour documentary that explores the world of on-line activists. These are computer experts who are using the internet and cyberspace as very effective new means of protest against global capitalism and the power of large transnational companies. We meet four main characters: Nart Villeneuve, a Canadian, Renaud Courvoisier, a French man, Paul Mobbs from the UK and Ricardo Dominguez from the USA. Each has different skills and ways of operating but the internet allows them to pool their talents and work collaboratively on-line to challenge government and corporations. Depending on your point of view, you may see them as 'internet warriors' trying to save the world, as 'cyber-terrorists' out to break the law, or as foolish 'geekboys' causing digital mischief from the safety of their homes.

Director: Ian Walker
Producer: Chris Hilton, Lauren Boucat, Peter Day
Editor: Chris Johnson
Running time: 52 mins
Distributor: Ronin Films

Hornets from HellHornets from Hell

The life cycle of Vespa mandarinia, the Japanese giant hornet, begins innocently enough. In the spring, the young queens emerge from hibernation, sustaining themselves on tree sap and other simple sugars as they begin building a nest and laying eggs. In a little over a month, their firstborn have matured into industrious workers who forage far and wide, gathering food that they carry back to the nest for the growing larvae. By midsummer, though, there are so many larvae to feed that the quest for food takes on a new urgency - and the predatory nature of the giant hornet emerges in full force.

Producer: Jeff Morales
Cinematographer: Alistair MacEwen
Awards: Telenatura 2002 International Television Festival on Conservation of Nature and Environment, Pamplona, Spain - Best Film
Running time: 50 mins

Distributor: National Geographic Natural History Unit
English language

Life on the Edge Down UnderLife on the Edge Down Under

A fascinating journey into the underwater world of the Dampier Archipelago, WA, where scientists from the WA Museum are documenting the co-existence of industrial development and marine wildlife. Today a busy port servicing gas refineries and mineral ore processing continues to develop in Dampier. It provides scientists from the Western Australian Museum with the unique opportunity to observe and document the effects of industry on the surrounding natural habitats and marine wildlife. Journey through natural and manmade habitats as the researchers reveal the expected and the unexpected. The scientists observe and study the wildlife, from sharks to shrimps and worms to whales, looking at both the common and the bizarre.

Director, Producer: Clay Bryce
Writer: John Beaton, Clay Bryce
Sound: Anthony Turner
Cinematographer: Leighton De Barros, Jason Isley
Running time: 48 mins
Distributor: Ronin Films
English language

Little Aerialists of Ainslie, The

Sugar gliders live in bushland almost in the centre of Australia’s national capital, but people hardly know they’re there. This film traces a night in the life of these fascinating flying marsupials, telling their story within the wider context of Canberra.

Director, Producer, Writer, Editor, Cinematographer: Matthew Higgins
Sound Matthew Higgins & Dave Blanken
Running time: 12 mins 
English language

Long Long Walkabout, The

The epic saga of the Australian Aborigines, from 50,000 years ago until now. The Long Long Walkabout is another archival gem produced by the ABC Documentary Unit in the early 1960 featuring Professor N.W.G. MacIntosh, then Professor of Anatomy at University of Sydney. Last year SCINEMA presented MacIntosh's search for the origins of the TALGAI SKULL, while in The Long Long Walkabout he takes on all of Aboriginal history.

Producer: ABC Documentary Unit
Running time: 55 mins
Distributor: ABC TV
English language


Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy is a bizarre form of supposed child abuse in which a mother pretends her child is ill - or actually makes her child sick- in order to get the sympathy and praise of the medical community. The film scrutinizes the scientific research surrounding the allegation and, in so doing, questions the very diagnosis itself.

Director, Writer: Nonny de la Pena
Producers: Nonny de la Pena, Amy Sommer
Editor: Greg Byers
Cinematographer: Graham D Smith, Bestor Cram
Running time: 100 mins
Distributor: Pissant Productions
English language

Microbe Invasion

Just like Earth itself, our body is a living planet, a network of ecosystems where bacteria are the dominant life form. The womb is the only environment where we are free of bacteria. Throughout life's journey we are invaded and become host to an army of bacteria and other microscopic bugs - both good and bad. With some of the world's leading microbial experts guiding the way and through extensive use of compute graphics, be drawn into the world of bacteria, and see that we need them as much as they need us.

Director: David Green
Producer, Writer: Andrew Waterworth
Sound: Errol Samuelson, John McNicholas, Stacey Hertnon
Cinematographer: Stephen Downes, Renaud Maire, Paul Donovan, Rachel Wilson
Running time: 50 mins 
Distributor: Explore International
English language

Molecular Visualisations of DNA

Molecular visualisations of DNA nuclear wrapping and DNA replication, created for the 50th anniversary (2003) of the discovery of the double helix. The dynamics and molecular shapes were based on X-ray crystallographic models and other published scientific data sets. Leading scientists, including several Novel Laureates, critiqued the animations during their development.

Director: Max Whitby
Producer: Drew Berry
Sound: Franc Tetaz
Animation: Drew Berry
Running time: 4 mins
English language

Motherland: a genetic journeyMotherland: A Genetic Journey

Cut off from their ancestry by the three-hundred-year-long slave trade which uprooted 12 million people from Africa, three people are given the opportunity, through DNA searches, to reconnect with their roots. Through advances in DNA research and with the help of laboratories in the UK and America, the possibility arises that with a swab from the inside of a person's cheek they can trace back twelve or thirteen generations to the tribe of their ancestors. Mark's search leads him from London to reconnect with the Kanuri tribe in southern Niger. Jacqueline's family comes from Jamaica. She is mixed race and research reveals one ancestor was a slave owner; she visits what was once his sugar plantation. Beaula has always felt a deep affinity with Africa. Her DNA test results lead her to Bioko island in Equatorial Guinea where the Bubi tribe still lives. There she is welcomed as a sister. For each person, the reconnection is emotional, but weighted also with unanticipated cultural differences.

Director, Producer: Archie Baron
Writer: Tabitha Jackson
Running time: 90 mins
Awards: International Documentary Festival, Amsterdam 2003; Prix Europa, 2003; Best Documentary, One World Media Award, 2002
Distributor: Takeaway Media
English language

Nganghkari WayNganghkari Way

The role of NGANGKARI - Traditional Healer - still plays a vital role in the health and well-being of Anangu people in Central Australia. We follow Andy Tjilari, Rupert Peters and Jimmy Baker as they show us how traditional healing is used in contemporary Anangu life.
The Ngangkari will discuss the different ways they received their powers and tell remarkable stories related to their lives as Ngangkari. We witness the hands-on healing of Anungu as they talk about the Ngangkari's connection to the spirit world and the age-old healing beliefs of the Pitjanjatara people.

Director, Producer, Writer: Erica Glynn
Running time: 26 mins
Distributor: Ronin Films
Anangu language/English language/English subtitles

A Nose for DangerNose for Danger, A

A new weapon is being developed in the battle against the millions of unexploded landmines that kill innocent children and adults around the world - the African pouched rat. Cheap, intelligent and, crucially, lightweight, rats are being trained in Tanzania to sniff out landmines and explosives. Their trainers at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania say that for the reward of a bit of banana the rats can do a much better job than dogs.

Director: Guido Martens
Producer: Chris Taes/VRT-TV
Running time: 40 mins
Distributor: Vlaamse Radio En Televisieomroep
Flemmish language/English subtitles

Red SpriteOne Hundred Year Hunt for the Red Sprite

Puzzled observers have reported sightings of brief, red flashes high in the sky since at least 1886, but without producing evidence. Not until July 1989, when the late aural physics expert Prof. John Winckler and his students were testing a low-light camera was the phenomena captured.  But what to call these creatures? Rocket lightning? Cloud-to-spacelightning? Upward lightning? The deliberately fanciful name “sprite” was chosen.

Director, Producer, Writer: Walter A. Lyons
Running time: 50 mins
Read the information sheet [PDF, 40Kb, opens new window]

The Path of TotalityPath of Totality, The

The 2002 total solar eclipse passes across the Australian outback, and filmmaker Ashley Starkey is there. Although this film touches on elements of eclipse science it's really about the people who came to see it for themselves, interviewing a variety of characters from astronomers to astrologers, from government officials warning against the use of eclipse glasses to those who couldn't get enough of them, from world travelling eclipse chasers to the completely uninitiated.

Director, Producer, Writer, Editor: Ashley Starkey
Running time: 57 mins
Distributor: Ashley Starkey
English language

Red SpriteRed Sprite

Red sprites are upper optical phenomena associated with thunderstorms that have been only documented using low level television. The first images of a sprite were taken in 1989 and from 1990 to 1994 the space shuttle obtained twenty more images. The Scottish physicist C.T.R Wilson predicted the existence of brief flashes of light high above large thunderstorms in 1925. This theory predicted that electric fields can cause ionization at great heights and could therefore give rise to discharges between clouds and the upper atmosphere. SCINEMA special guest, Canadian multi-media artist Peter McLeish introduces these phenomena to our Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne audiences.

Director, Producer, Writer: Peter McLeish
Running time: 6 mins
Website: http://www.Sky-Fire.TV for more interesting information on sprites.

The Secret Life of ButterfliesSecret Life of Butterflies, The

The Secret Lives of Butterflies is a documentary that explores new realms of biology and ecology, which have been, until now, largely undiscovered. The film also examines our cultural fascination with butterflies and the hold they have on our imagination from butterfly releases at weddings and funerals to art and butterfly gardening.

Director: Penny McCann, David McCallum
Producer: Hoda Elatawi, Ed Kucerak
Writer: Mike Laewen
Editor: Marie-Claude Gagnon, Doug von Rosen
Cinematographer: Ray Hagel, David McCallum

Running time: 50 mins
Distributor: Kublacom Pictures Inc
English language

Show a Little Respect: Caring for a Reserve

A look at a coastal reserve near Darwin and how people relate to this special place.

Director: Birut Zemits
Producer: Birut Zemits
Writer: Birut Zemits
Editor: Birut Zemits
Sound: Corey
Cinematographer: Birut Zemits & Genauyer Williams
Running time: 15 mins
English language


A scientist becomes obsessed with the physics of the accident that nearly killed him. The struggle of a person who is unable to face his own fears and retreats from his life into a world of abstractions in which he feels safe.

Director, Writer: David Marmor
Producer: Evan Finn
Editor: Donald Joh
Sound: Joe Dzuban
Cinematographer: Juliane Crump
Cast: Jesse Burch, Mary Schmidtberger, Robert Pierce, Manuel Bermudez
Running time: 15 mins
Distributor: David Marmor
English language

Thanks for all the FishThanks for all the Fish

In Seaworld on Australia's east coast, a curious-looking old dolphin with a white fin no longer performs for the crowds. She now acts as a nanny and mid-wife for the new born dolphins. 'Amity' is the only such animal in captivity in the world. Across a narrow strip of ocean lies 'Minjerribah', Stradbroke Island and Amity Point from where she was 'collected'. It's here that 'Amity' leads us into a story as old as the indigenous people that remain there. The Aboriginal people of Stradbroke Island would call their local dolphins by striking the surface of the water in a coded rhythm. The dolphins recognised the signal and drove the shoals of fish against the shore and into the waiting nets. A portion of the catch was always given back to the dolphins to show thanks and respect.

Director, Producer, Writer: John Lambert
Running time: 26 mins
Distributor: Ronin Films
English language

The Terrible Lizards of OzTerrible Lizards of Oz, The

Strange dinosaurs, marine reptiles that lived in icy seas and archaic mammals - introducing the terrible lizards of Oz - creatures from Australia's prehistoric past that are re-writing history. CGI animation brings to life these dinosaurs to life.  

Director, Writer: Ruth Berry
Producer: Ruth Berry, Mark Chapman
Writer: Ruth Berry
Editor: Rodney Sewell
Sound: Terry Meehan
Cinematographer: Paul Warren
Running time: 45 mins
Distributor: CBC International/Big Island Pictures
English language

To Bee or Not Too Bee?To Bee or Not To Be?

Can a boy turn into a bee?

Director: David Easteal
Producer: David Easteal
Writer: Murray Clapham, David Easteal, Michael Drake, Chris Patz
Editor: David Easteal
Sound: David Easteal & Brian Tam
Cinematographer: David Easteal
Cast: Murray Clapham and Michael Drake
Running time: 4 mins

Totally WildTotally Wild

An award-winning, broadly based environment program aimed at the 8-14 age group, Totally Wild showcases a variety of stories on topics such as the latest action sports, young achievers, Australian native fauna & flora, issues of environmental significance, science, pet care and the latest technology. If it is part of a child's total environment, it's on Totally Wild.

Location crew: Shane Dyson, Stephen Harrison, Stephen Bergin, Ashley Eden
Producers: Stephen Buckley, Carla de Jong, Rebecca Fawcett, Danielle Lass
Editor: Ray Cooper
Cast: Angela Brown, Cliff Besley, Juli Buchanan, Hayley Chapman, Jasmin Geisel, Craig McMahon, Tim Moore, Jessica Skarratt, Kylie Smith, Stacey Thomson, Jack Yabsley
Running time: 22 mins
Distributor: Network Ten Australia
English language

Transplanting MemoriesTransplanting Memories

A powerful human story investigating amazing cases of people who have inherited personal characteristics and memories from their organ donor immediately after transplant surgery. It features donor families who've discovered more than a body part from their loved one may be living on inside another body. It looks at the work of scientists who challenge us to reconsider our assumptions about where our memories are stored, whether they can be transferred from one individual to another and even survive our bodily death.

Writer, Producer: Glenn Krawczyk
Sound: Gary Dixon
Editor: Richard Pain
Narrator: Randall Carpenter

Running time: 50 mins
Distributor: Explore International/NHNZ
English language

Turn to the WindTurn to the Wind

Wind turbines as tall as a 30-story building tower over the fields around Gull Lake, Saskatchewan. These enormous structures seem perfectly adapted to the immensity that surrounds them. They might almost be natural phenomena in a country of extremes between nature and technology. This lyrical film celebrates their austere architecture.

Director, Writer, Camera: Lea Nakonechny
Running time: 6 mins
Distributor: Mantle Media
Watch a clip: insert link
No dialogue

We of Little VoiceWe of Little Voice

WE OF LITTLE VOICE reveals the effects of uranium mining and nuclear testing on indigenous communities in South Australia.
In the 1950s the British Government tested nuclear bombs in northern South Australia. These days, there are mines and waste dumps in the erea. The indigenous communities in the region have concerns about how the fall out from the testing and the risks of mining leaks impact on their communities. Indigenous anti-nuclear campaigner, Kevin Buzzcott, goes on a journey through northern South Australia to hear the stories of Aboriginal elders who have experienced the effects of the nuclear industry. This is the first time many of these elders have told their stories to the public.

Director: Peter Hodgson
Producer: Heather Croall
Sound: David Trantor
Cinematographer: Alan Collins
Running time: 26 mins
Distributor: Ronin Films
Arabunna language/Antinkarinya language/Yankuntjatjara language/Kokatha language/English language/English subtitles

Why is it so?Why is it so?

Why is it so? - the ground-breaking TV series with the enigmatic Professor Julius Sumner Miller - ran on the ABC from 1963 to 1986. Professor Miller's infectious enthusiasm for physics delighted, educated and entertained generations of Australians, most of whom have at some point asked each other 'Why is it so?' in the characteristic Julius Sumner Miller voice.
Running time: 32 mins
Distributor: ABC TV


‘Y’ ran for 4 years on the Nine Network, spanning 325 episodes, presenting basic science in a fun and educational way. Experiments in the studio are interspersed with magazine-style segments featuring science being applied in children’s everyday lives.

Director: Leo Flynn
Producer: Bob Gillow
Cast: David Lampard, Tara Colegrave, Kirsti Mollica, Taryn Onafaro
Running time: 22 mins
Distributor: Southern Star Endemol
Country of origin: Australia


This page last updated on 9 February 2009
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