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Tue, Mar 26 at 8:00pm


  • Dir. Deborah Stratman
  • USA
  • 2023
  • 50 min.
  • NR
  • 35mm

National Evening of Science on Screen®

  • Assistive Listening
  • Hearing Loop

Part of Science On Screen 2024

Tue, Mar 26 at 8:00pm: National Evening of Science on Screen® post-screening discussion and activity with paleoecologist Emily Simpson, MTSU | BUY TICKETS

Deborah Statman’s LAST THINGS looks at evolution and extinction from the perspective of the rocks and minerals that came before humanity and will outlast us. With scientists and thinkers like Lynn Margulis and Marcia Bjørnerud as guides and quoting from the proto-sci-fi texts of J.H. Rosny, Stratman offers a stunning array of images, from microscopic forms to vast landscapes, and seeks a picture of evolution without humans at the center.

The project originated from two novellas of J.H. Rosny, the joint pseudonym of the Belgian brothers Boex who wrote on natural, prehistoric and speculative subjects — sci-fi before it was a genre. The film takes up their pluralist vision of evolution, where imagining prehistory is inseparable from envisioning the future. Also central are Roger Caillois’ writing on stones, Robert Hazen’s theory of Mineral Evolution, Clarice Lispector’s Hour of the Star, the Symbiosis theory of Lynn Margulis, multi-species scenarios of Donna Haraway, Hazel Barton’s research on cave microbes, and Marcia Bjørnerud’s thoughts on time literacy. In one way or another, these thinkers have all sought to displace humankind and human reason from the center of evolutionary processes. Passages from Rosny and interviews with Bjørnerud form the film’s science-fictional / science-factual spine. Stones are its anchor. To touch stone is to meet alien duration. We trust stone as archive, but we may as well write on water. In the end, it’s particles that remain.

"An entrancing blend of hard science and ephemeral existentialism." ––Michael Fox, KQED

"Stratman’s haunting, iridescent work of science-nonfiction actively decenters the human perspective, narrating the history and the speculative future of the universe with rocks as its protagonists." ––Devika Girish, Film Comment

"Astounding." ––Robert Koehler, Cinema Scope

Presentation: “A Forgotten World: The Lives of the Ancestors of African Mammals.”

Activity: Who done it? Paleontology can tell us much more than simply which animals were carnivores; new tools are always developing that can tell us more specifically what, where, and how animals were eating. Put the pieces back together to solve the mystery of an ancient crime scene.

About the Speaker:
Emily Simpson is a paleoecologist. She uses fossils and often their chemistry to uncover stories about how ancient plants interacted with each other and the world around them. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Cincinnati, and is completing a dissertation on a group of animals from 34 million years ago that experienced a rapidly changing world-and survived. She has worked on a wide variety of organisms, and thoroughly enjoys telling their stories. Emily’s master’s was at East Tennessee State University on the impact of large, ice age mammals on the Appalachian bald ecosystems. She has worked all around the country and in a variety of geologic times. Currently, she is teaching at Middle Tennessee State University, and enjoys capturing her students’ imaginations with the past.

Science on Screen® is an initiative of the Coolidge Corner Theatre, with major support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

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