Jeffrey Nachmanoff on scientific plots

"For a screenwriter it's always so much easier to tell a story about the perils of science than about incremental progress."

- Jeffrey Nachmanoff, quoted in Nature

So speaks the co-writer of the climate change disaster film The Day After Tomorrow. According to journalist Jascha Hoffman, there was a strong showing of science at this year's Sundance Film Festival screenings in Utah, about which Nachmanoff was commenting. But from her round-up, it seems a lot of this was more medical than scientific, with tales of mental breakdown, bipolar disorder, autism and psychopathology. She notes that one anonymous astrophysicist at the festival was frustrated that, of the hundred-odd films on display, none showed "an ordinary scientist at work". LabLit, of course, can sympathize with this frustration, but is hardly surprised at such characteristic scarcity.

Hoffman also expresses disappointment that the winner of the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan prize for movies depicting scientists, about an engineer with Asperger's Syndrome, was "stiff and preachy".

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