Hot on the heels of the Hollywood blockbuster Hidden Figures, another film celebrating women in the space race – The Purple Plain – has received the award for Best Director at the 2017 SCINEMA International Science Film Festival, which is about to tour Australia.
Here’s all the winning films, and how you can watch them for yourself.
The Purple Plain is a short film inspired by the little-known story of the Mercury 13, the first American women who tested for space travel in the 1960s. Completing the same rigorous testing, their results surpassed the handful of men chosen by NASA to be the first in space – the Mercury 7 – yet the world knows little of these women.
The Purple Plain is just one of eight winners chosen from over 1,194 entries from 90 countries, for awards in Best Film, Best Short Film, Best Documentary, Best Director, Best Experimental/Animation Film, Award for Technical Merit, Award for Scientific Merit and a Special Jury Award.
Established in 2000, SCINEMA International Science Film Festival is the largest science film festival in the southern hemisphere. Presented by Australia’s Science Channel and supported by major sponsor BBC Earth, SCINEMA provides a platform for filmmakers, professional, amateur and student, to showcase their science films, series and documentaries.
“The high caliber and cultural diversity of entries into this year’s festival, coupled with the BBC supporting us for the second year in a row, is a great tribute to the international strength of SCINEMA,” said Dr Paul Willis, Director of The Royal Institution of Australia.
The winning films will be shown exclusively at Festival premiere screenings in Palace Cinemas across Australia from 7 to 19 June 2017.
“The Festival premiere screenings are open to the public and will feature the best entries of 2017,” said Dr Willis. “A special selection of shortlisted films will also be available for our community screenings to be held during National Science Week in August”.
“We are so proud of the audience the event reaches through both premiere and community screenings – the schools, the community groups – it’s a great vehicle for engaging students and the public with great science films from around the world,” said Dr Willis.
The 2017 SCINEMA International Science Film Festival award winners include:
SCINEMA Best Film
OWSIA (Darkened Water) by Alireza Dehghan (Iran)
The aqueduct in the central Iranian city of Yazd has supplied water to the city for 2,500 years, now rots away due to bureaucracy and corruption.
Jury comment: A fascinating well-made film about this living UNESCO heritage site, social politics and the complex issue of water rights.
SCINEMA Best Documentary
Fix and Release by Scott Dobson and Jono Nemethy (Canada)
An amazing team at a turtle trauma centre in Ontario, Canada is determined to battle to even the odds for freshwater turtle survival in the modern world.
Jury comment: An important story, well told and beautifully shot.
SCINEMA Best Director
The Purple Plain by Kim Albright (United Kingdom)
How different would things have been if it had been one small step for a woman, and one giant leap for mankind? The inspiring true story of the Mercury 13; the first women who tested for space flight.
Jury comment: Superbly crafted and well-executed storytelling that combines a fictional narrative thread with a factual account of a little-known story about women and their place in spaceflight history.
SCINEMA Best Short Film
Einstein-Rosen by Olga Osorio (Spain)
It’s the summer of 1982. Teo claims he has found a wormhole. His brother Óscar does not believe him… at least not for now.
Jury comment: A quirkily charming and entertaining film.
SCINEMA Award for Best Experimental/Animated Film
Think like a scientist: Natural Selection in an Outbreak by Nathan Dappen and Neil Losin (USA)
Computational geneticist Pardis Sabeti and disease ecologist Lina Moses bring us to the front line of the 2013-15 Ebola epidemic and explain the science behind how this event became the largest Ebola outbreak in history.
Jury comment: Great example of role models for women working in STEM fields.
SCINEMA Award for Technical Merit
Nex by Philipp Buschauer, Michael Loithaler and Marlene Raml (Austria)
A visually stunning film illuminating the minute battles of nature from the micro to macro scale as a rhinoceros beetle, attacked by a fungus, struggles between life and death. Even the tiniest things can have a huge impact.
SCINEMA Award for Scientific Merit
Pangolins in Peril – A story of rare scales by Muhammad Ali Ijaz (Pakistan)
The rare secretive Pangolin plays a vital ecological role but is on the verge of extinction. Two brave and passionate wildlife watchers fight against the odds to save the endangered Pangolin.
Jury comment: Simply and beautifully produced film that shows conservation biology in a political and social setting.
SCINEMA Special Jury Award
Test Tube Babes by Alice Wade (United Kingdom)
Two sisters that are the outcome IVF, explain the amazing science of reproductive biology with wit and charm.
Jury comment: You’ll never look at a paw-paw the same way again!
You can grab tickets to the festival here.