Exploratorium Celebrates 40th Anniversary with Film Program

The Exploratorium is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its groundbreaking Cinema Arts program with a special series of curated screenings, live performances, and filmmaking workshops beginning at After Dark: Extended Cinemas continuing throughout the year.

In honor of the milestone anniversary, the Mayor’s Office will officially recognize March 2, 2023 as Exploratorium Cinema Arts Day in San Francisco.

Led by Liz Keim, a protege of Exploratorium founder Frank Oppenheimer, Cinema Arts challenges the norm of traditional educational film screenings in science museums by focusing on artist made films that provoke curiosity, instigate conversation, and mirror the Exploratorium’s hands-on, inquiry-based approach to learning about science.

“For 40 years, Cinema Arts has leveraged the unique setting of the Exploratorium to offer audiences of all ages unexpected cinema experiences,” Keim said. “We believe film is an active viewing experience, with the projection screen serving as a portal to investigation. This year, we’re excited to present additional programming and welcome back many of our longstanding artist collaborators to help commemorate this important milestone.”

Highlights of the 40th anniversary programming include partnering with the San Francisco Urban Film Festival to screen All That Breathes, the 2022 winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize for documentaries, on March 9 at the Kanbar Forum. Later this year, the Exploratorium will also present works by sound artist Fred Frith and visual artist Heike Liss, media/performance artist Miwa Matreyek, and a collaborative work from composer/performer and media artist Pamela Z and multimedia artist Christina McPhee.

Since 1983, Cinema Arts has presented works from thousands of artists and filmmakers, including pioneering filmmaker Barbara Hammer, multimedia artist Gustavo Vazquez, documentary filmmaker Sam Green. Screenings mainly focus on animations, experimental and non-narrative films, and short documentaries.

As part of its experimental nature, Cinema Arts has hosted screenings on a weather balloon, in the redwood forest, and along the Sausalito shoreline. Cinema Arts also hosts occasional work-in-progress screenings, inviting filmmakers to discuss their ideas and show unfinished work for feedback.

Local filmmakers Irving Saraf and Allie Light’s In the Shadow of the Stars, a film about the San Francisco Opera, went on to win the Academy Award for Best Documentary Film.