Aug 07 2019 Posted: 00:00 IST

CÚRAM and Galway Film Centre’s ‘Science on Screen’ films celebrate continued international screenings and award successes in the US and Australia

A Tiny Spark, the most recent film produced through the ‘Science on Screen’ initiative created by CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Medical Devices at NUI Galway and Galway Film Centre, has been awarded Best Medical Short at Sci On! Film Festival in Nevada. The film focuses on the first study of its kind in the world, which is being led by NUI Galway Neuroscientist, Dr Karen Doyle and involves the analysis of removed blood clots to determine what information they may yield and could point to big improvements to people’s lives.

The film, directed by Niamh Heery and produced by Caroline Kealy of Swansong Films with animations by Eric Dolan, meets three stroke survivors Rebecca, Trevor and Helen who talk about life after a stroke and their individual roads to recovery. This research is an international collaborative study between NUI Galway, hospital partners in Beaumont Hospital and throughout Europe and the Mayo Clinic, USA. 

Awarding the prize, one of the festival judges at Sci On! Film Festival had this to say about the film:Such a powerful and perfectly-made film. The subject matter is so vital and relevant. It’s hard to find the words to describe such a meaningful and compassionate treatment of a condition that has impacted so many of us directly or indirectly, personally or through a friend or family member. Thank you for helping raise awareness - and to show that there is hope.” While a second judge remarked:Absolutely superb and engaging documentary, with an excellent and sensitive blending of interviews with animated scenes.” 

A Tiny Spark, which had its international festival premiere in March 2019 at the Oregon Documentary Festival, also screened at the SCINEMA International Science Film Festival in Australia, the largest science film festival in the Southern Hemisphere. The film has also just been selected for DOCUTAH Film Festival in Utah in September 2019 and more screenings will be announced soon.

The CÚRAM and Galway Film Centre ‘Science on Screen’ initiative offers funding to filmmakers to produce a documentary that engages with research currently underway at CÚRAM in NUI Galway. This funding strand for creative documentaries set in the world of science is now in its fourth year.

Other ‘Science on Screen’ films are also still screening to audiences around the globe. The 2017 film Bittersweet, directed by Hugh Rodgers and produced by Anna Rodgers and Zlata Filipovic of Invisible Thread Films, scooped the Best Educational Media Award at the Raw Science Film Festival 2019 in Los Angeles. Bittersweet follows the personal stories of young people who are living with diabetes and their daily challenges to manage it. Over the course of the film, audiences discover ground-breaking research and development in pharmacology and biomedical science, capturing the important work of CÚRAM’s Professor David Brayden and his team at UCD’s School of Veterinary Medicine, where they are developing new ways of delivering insulin to the body. 

Bittersweet premiered in 2017 and has since screened at film festivals globally, as well as broadcasting on RTÉ 1 TV and at special screenings for healthcare professionals, and for school children and academics throughout Ireland. It recently screened at Galway University Hospitals to the Paediatric team in conjunction with Diabetes Ireland. The film’s success to date emphasizes the key goal of ‘Science on Screen’ which is to bring science to new audiences in the form of great storytelling through the medium of film. 

Bittersweet is available on the RTÉ Player: https://www.rte.ie/player/movie/bittersweet/83918888259 

A Tiny Spark Trailer is available here: https://vimeo.com/291731458 and for more about ‘Science on Screen’ visit: http://curamdevices.ie/curam/public-engagement/science-on-screen/

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