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Science march film will turn on scientists turned political candidates, leaders

Posted: Nov. 20, 2017 | Tags: Larry Kirkman, March on Science, Protest for Science


Photo by Paul Becker/Flickr

Frontline protesters, including Bill Nye, "The Science Guy," at the March for Science in Washington, D.C. on April 22, 2017.


March for Science and Public Policy 11/27 from Larry Kirkman on Vimeo.

“Preponderance of Evidence,” a documentary about the impact of the April 22 March on Science, will tell stories about scientists who want to counter the Trump administration’s war on science.

The film will feature footage of thousands of marchers trekking in rainy conditions toward Capitol Hill protesting policies of the new president, who cast doubt about climate change and vaccines during his presidential campaign. 

American University professor and filmmaker Larry Kirkman

Photo by Crystal Solberg, AU MFA student

From left: American University MFA alumna Kate Schuler and film professor Larry Kirkman

Film director Larry Kirkman, a dean emeritus and film and media arts professor at American University, released a “work-in-progress” video about the Earth Day march in early November. Six video crews and more than 20 graduate students affiliated with the School of Communication and the Investigative Reporting Workshop shot about six hours of footage, Kirkman estimated. 

“I want to tell the story of scientists who are running for political office,” Kirkman said. “My conviction is this is a moment where scientists are speaking out — coming out of the labs and out of the classroom.”

MFA students at the March on Science

Photo by Larry Kirkman, IRW

From left: American University MFA students Elizabeth Herzfeldt-Kamprath and Ashley Holmes

As his team pulls together the documentary, Kirkman plans to work with 314 Action, a Political Action Committee that interested scientists, political candidates and leaders last year and boosts the campaigns of scientists running for policymaking posts nationwide. 

Kirkman also plans to work with the Defenders of Wildlife, the Nature Conservancy, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and science communications strategists. As film planning pivots toward follow-up interviews and post-production, Kirkman said these partnerships will help train and equip scientists for public education and advocacy.

“We’re working with scholars who are communication researchers,” Kirkman said. He’s interviewing people who “understand how to get people to listen and to care, to be engaged in science issues.”

American architect and artist Maya Lin, Nature Conservancy chief Mark Tercek, AAAS chief Rush Holt and Earth Day Network board chair emeritus Denis Hayes are some of the well-known people who appear in the video clip. But Kirkman said he also wants to tell the story of the science of scientific communication.

When Kirkman’s team spoke to Hayes, the environmentalist who organized the first Earth Day nearly 50 years ago, he was critical of leadership in the Trump cabinet. 

Hayes said the government is actively burying datasets and scrubbing the words “climate change” from federal sites.

“Once you’ve got data,” Hayes said, “the worst thing you can do is censor it.”

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