Back by popular demand, the Wilmette Theatre in partnership with The Field Museum will host a three-part film series that promotes scientific literacy through entertainment.
Each of the films is paired with a notable scientist from The Field Museum, who will present and lead discussions following the screening that delve into relevant scientific topics.
“It fits in with our overall strategy of providing value-added programming to our patrons,” said Wendy Sharon, director of the Wilmette Theatre.
Last year marked the first time the Wilmette Theatre partnered with The Field Museum, after the theater was awarded a grant from the Coolidge Corner Theatre and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to present Science on Screen. While the Wilmette Theatre did not receive a grant this year, Sharon said the program was so well-received that the theater elected to partner with The Field Museum again.
Judging from last year’s attendance, Sharon said, the series appealed primarily to adults rather than families. So when The Field Museum selected movies to pair with scientists, choosing a movie such as Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds was one they knew would appeal to an adult audience. The Wilmette Theatre hopes to grow the series over time and make it an annual event, Sharon said.
- The documentary film Grizzly Man (2005) kicks off the series on February 8 at 6:30 p.m. with a presentation and discussion by Lawrence Heaney, curator and head of the division of mammals at The Field Museum, to follow. Heaney led a team of researchers to remote areas of the Philippines, where they discovered dozens of previously unknown species of mammals.
- The 1963 thriller The Birds, by Alfred Hitchcock, the second film in the series, will be shown on March 8 at 6:30 p.m. John Bates, associate curator of birds and head of life sciences at The Field Museum, will discuss his expertise on the evolution of tropical birds.
- The series will wrap up with the 1971 black comedy, A New Leaf, starring Walter Matthau, on April 12 at 6:30 p.m. followed by a presentation and discussion by Matt Von Konrat, head of collections at the Gantz Family Collections Center at The Field Museum, and originally from New Zealand. Von Konrat specializes in plant systemics.
The film series presents a unique opportunity for people to learn more about relevant scientific topics from experts at The Field Museum, without having to travel away from the North Shore. Sharon believes this type of specialized programming has contributed to the patron growth the theater has enjoyed over the past few years.
“We feel like the word is getting out,” Sharon noted.
Between 2016 and 2017, the theater saw attendance increase by 6,000 people, according to Sharon.
“We are getting people from all over Chicago because we have movies they can’t see elsewhere,” Sharon said. And Wilmette Theatre patrons are loyal and supportive.
“We have different kinds of things you aren’t going to see at chain theaters,” Sharon said.
For more information, visit www.wilmettetheatre.com.