Patricia Pisters, Maartje Nevejan and Robbert Dijkgraaf form the InScience Jury
The second InScience Jury Award will be presented during the sixth edition of InScience. The professional jury consists of three professionals with different expertise: Robbert Dijkgraaf, Maartje Nevejan, and Patricia Pisters. They watch a selection of films and announce the best science film of InScience 2020 on the last festival day, Sunday 15 November. We proudly present them to you:
Dijkgraaf is Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, professor at the University of Amsterdam in mathematical physics, and focuses on string theory, quantum gravity, and the borderline of mathematics and particle physics. He has honorary doctorates from Radboud University Nijmegen, Leiden University, and Vrije Universiteit Brussel and received the Spinoza Prize in 2003.
Dijkgraaf’s career started when he studied Physics and Mathematics at Utrecht University. After a break of several years in which he studied painting at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, he obtained his doctorate in Utrecht cum laude from Nobel Prize winner Gerard ‘t Hooft. Besides the fact that Dijkgraaf is at the heart of science, he is also interested in the connection between science and society. He is a columnist for the NRC Handelsblad, where he makes science accessible to a wide audience and he was regularly seen at De Wereld Draait Door (DWDD) where he introduced young scientists and gave lectures for DWDD University. In addition, he is the initiator of proefjes.nl, a website with simple scientific experiments to introduce children from the age of eight to physics, chemistry, and biology.
His interest in making people enthusiastic about science ensured that Dijkgraaf, in addition to being an ambassador of InScience, will also fulfill a role as a jury member this year.
Patricia Pisters is Professor of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam and works at the intersection of film studies, philosophy, and neuroscience. She was Director at the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis and has researched, among other things, the new Hollywood aesthetics and Dutch film culture.
Pisters’ love for film did not start in the Netherlands but during her French studies in Paris. ‘At the time, France was the Mecca of film culture, where hundreds of theaters screened up to three hundred films a week,’ says Pisters enthusiastically. ‘So I walked all day from one theater to the other, so I actually put together my own film education.’ This interest led her to eventually study Film and Television Science in Amsterdam, where she mainly focused on how images can influence our thinking. ‘I’ve always been interested in the philosophical side of films: how the brain processes images and how they affect our memories and our image of the world.’ In her research, she therefore uses not only philosophical but also neuroscientific insights.
This interdisciplinary attitude is one of the reasons that Pisters is a member of the InScience jury this year. ‘I believe that different forms of science can provide different insights about the world.’ She does not watch films biased by her own background, but with an open-minded view: ‘Is it interesting in terms of content? Does it affect me or is it innovative? What does this film say about science and how does this film do that?’ These are the elements on which Pisters will assess the films of InScience 2020. ‘But every film is different, so it will sometimes be like comparing apples to oranges. We therefore have to discuss with the whole jury what we are going to weigh most heavily.’
Maartje Nevejan is a Dutch filmmaker who made, among other things, the award-winning documentary Ik ben er even niet (2019). In 2019 she received the InScience Jury Award for this film. Before she made documentaries, however, she was active in the theater and the new media.
‘I am a storyteller,’ Nevejan begins delighted. After graduating from the Amsterdam Theater School, she made theater for ten years. In theater, she tried to give substance to the story of the other. ‘But I started to like reality more and more and found it somehow more theatrical.’ She then wrote her own play that was also filmed and won a Golden Calf, after which Nevejan got a taste for it and decided to focus on making documentaries. In the beginning, they were mainly socially engaged, while in the last ten years she searched for the connection between art and science. ‘Art has been involved in various areas for millennia on subjects that science has only just begun, especially around matters such as consciousness. That is why I find it incredibly interesting to see where they meet.’
For this reason, Nevejan was asked to join the InScience 2020 jury. ‘I think that the combination of art and science can yield new knowledge that we need,’ she says. ‘I sometimes get the feeling that the world wants to tear us apart, for example in terms of cultures or gender. Science and art can actually connect us in this by looking at the major themes that lie beneath the differences.’ When judging the films at InScience 2020, Nevejan therefore wants to focus primarily on the feeling that a film leaves behind. ‘I like it when you as an audience not only know more about a specific subject after a film, but that it also affects you. That you feel the depth of it.’
Photo Robbert Dijkgraaf: Gabi Porter
Photo Patricia Pisters: Bas Losekoot
Photo Maartje Nevejan: Abel Jansma