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Science Fiction in Cinema

Start date:
Oct 16, 2015
Ability Level:
Intermediate; Location: Katara Drama Theatre
Free event; first-come, first-served

Master Classes with Professor Richard Peña

A machine that can suddenly stop a horse in mid-gallop or transport you to a distant galaxy. Or a device that can transform someone from a crawling baby into an old man with a cane. What might possibly perform all these wonders? Why, cinema, of course: the camera can do all this and more. Indeed, cinema can be seen as yet another invention that performs what earlier might have been thought impossible, such as the telegraph, the telephone or the steam engine – inventions that for many blurred the line between science and science fiction. Thus, it’s no accident from its very earliest days, cinema was drawn to science fiction: the medium itself seemed a kind of fantastic technology that had become a real presence in the world.

In this two-part series of master classes, Richard Peña, Professor of Film Studies at Columbia University and Director of the New York Film Festival from 1988 to 2012, will offer a survey of science fiction in cinema. The first class looks at science fiction in the early days of cinema, when it often had a certain utopian character, inspired by a profound belief in scientific knowledge as progress. The second class focuses on the contemporary period, signalled by the release of two masterworks that forever changed the course of cinematic science fiction: Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ (1968) and Andrei Tarkovsky’s ‘Solaris’ (1972). These films, in their distinctive ways, symbolised growing doubts about science, and question whether in the rush for ever-greater technological advances, something fundamentally human had been lost.

Each master class will be illustrated by clips from a wide range of films.

Born and raised in New York, from 1988 until 2012, Richard Peña was the Director of the New York Film Festival. He has also had a simultaneous career in academia, joining the faculty of Columbia University in 1996, where he has been tenured since 2003. He has taught at Harvard, MIT, Princeton, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of São Paulo and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

Date: 16 – 17 October, 2015
Time: 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Location: Katara Drama Theatre
Language: English (simultaneous interpretation to Arabic will be available)

Free event; first-come, first-served