What Happens When Film and Science Collide?

Dr Eilís Dowd and her team in CÚRAM in NUI Galway filming for ‘Feats of Modest Valour'.
Nov 01 2016 Posted: 12:31 GMT

Two documentaries tell the stories of Parkinson’s patients and sporting injuries.

What happens when scientists and filmmakers collide and what stories emerge? This was the question posed by ‘Science on Screen’, an initiative from Galway Film Centre, CÚRAM at NUI Galway, and Galway UNESCO City of Film, with the support of Science Foundation of Ireland.

The result has been two documentaries featuring the groundbreaking world of medical device research taking place in CÚRAM.

Feats of Modest Valour is a touching portrait of three individuals with Parkinson’s Disease and the scientists who are developing a new medical device, which could potentially halt or even cure the disease; and Mending Legends looks at the devastating effects of tendon injury on sports people and the team of scientists who are working to form the world’s first 3D cell assembled tendon prototype.

These two films will premiere during both SFI's National Science Week and the Galway Science and Technology Festival, on Saturday, 19 November in An Taibhdhearc. Jonathan McCrea of Newstalk Radio will conduct a Q&A with the filmmakers and scientists after the screening.

Storytelling through science was the ethos that underpinned these films and this is apparent from the rich characters that we encounter in both documentaries. In Mending Legends, presented by Máire Treasa Ní Dhubhghaill, we meet Jessie Barr who just missed out on the Rio 2016 Olympics due to tendon injury, made all the more bittersweet by her brother’s fourth placing in the 400m hurdles at those very same events. Pádraic Joyce, Galway football legend, also recounts playing through the pain for the love of the game. The exciting research led by Dr Dimitrios Zeugolis that is taking place at CÚRAM in NUI Galway, could make huge differences to sports people of the future. The film is produced by James Ryan of StationHouse Media in Athenry and directed by Paul Webster.

In Feats of Modest Valour we meet three individuals living with the physical challenges of Parkinson’s. Brian Carney from County Mayo works on the family farm, while Milena Lulic who lives in Galway City recounts her days in World War II in Croatia. Also Tom Hickey, Irish actor who recently received a lifetime achievement award at the Abbey Theatre from the President Michael D. Higgins, talks about how suffering for his art takes on a whole new meaning with the disease. Meanwhile, scientists led by NUI Galway’s Dr Eilis O’Dowd continue searching for a way to halt the disease. The film is co-directed and co-produced by Mia Mullarkey and Alice McDowell of Ishka Films.

Declan Gibbons, Director of Galway UNESCO City of Film, said: “One of the key ambitions underscoring Galway’s status as a UNESCO City of Film is to promote the merging of science, technology and creativity in exciting new projects. The idea of using film to explore the ground breaking scientific research being done on our doorstep in CÚRAM in NUI Galway, offers a wonderful fusion of art and science in a highly creative way. It is exactly the type of project that City of Film should be initiating and so we are delighted to have been involved in these two films since the get-go.”

“The two research projects featured in these documentaries are at the cutting edge of biomedical research. Our investigators are coordinating these projects across Europe with numerous academic and industry partners”, said Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, which is based in NUI Galway. “One of our key goals at CÚRAM is to provide access to information that comes from our research, so that the Irish public can stay informed about advances in science and healthcare. Science on Screen and our partnership with Galway Film Centre is one of our core public engagement programmes and we are delighted to have such strong outputs from the initiative this year. It is really important for us to ensure that there’s a two way flow of information happening between our researchers and members of the public, and these filmmakers have succeeded brilliantly in helping us do just that.”

Dr Ruth Freeman, Director Strategy and Communications Science Foundation Ireland, said: “Supporting projects like this is part of our aim to create greater public debate and knowledge on challenges we face as a society and how scientific research and discoveries are helping to find solutions. By supporting Irish film and TV production we hope to make these stories accessible to a wide audience in an entertaining and engaging manner.”

The films will screen at 2pm on Saturday, 19 November in An Taibhdhearc Theatre, Middle Street, Galway City. To RSVP, please contact admin@galwayfilmcentre.ie.

More information is available at www.galwayfilmcentre.ie or www.curamdevices.ie. To view the trailers of the films visit https://vimeo.com/184564095


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