Neuro-Ethics Film Festival 2012 to Examine Ethical Implications of How Our Brains Govern Our Behaviour
Released: 08 November 2012
What would it mean for people if scientists claimed to have proved that our actions were not the product of freewill, but rather resulted from the unique biological and chemical make up of each of our brains? Would we have to reconsider ethical judgements relating to the actions of individuals, and the boundaries set by society? Film-goers will be invited to explore and debate such issues around neuroscience, human behaviour and ethics at the 2012 Biomedical Ethics Film Festival – this year branded the Neuro-Ethics Film Festival – which will take place at Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Friday 23 to Sunday 25 November 2012.
The Festival will feature a range of stimulating neuro-ethically themed films and documentaries, which include: Limitless (2011) a revealing tale of the potential benefits and perils of brain enhancement, staring Bradley Cooper and Robert de Nero; the genre-setting The Matrix (1999) featuring Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne; the classic Manchurian Candidate (1962) which portrays brain-washing during the Korean War; and Stanley Kubrick’s challenging portrayal of moral degeneration and mental reprogramming, A Clockwork Orange (1971). Also forming part of the Festival programme will be a “double bill” screening of two BBC Horizon documentaries: Out of Control (2011), and The Secret You (2009).
Following each screening the audience will have the opportunity to debate issues raised in the film with an expert panel. Experts participating in these discussions include: former Bishop of Edinburgh, The Rt Rev. Brian Smith; leading author of medical ethics fiction, Dr Hazel McHaffie; and the Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Biomedical Ethics, Dr Martyn Pickersgill.
Speaking ahead of the Festival, the Director of the ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum, Professor Steve Yearley said:
“Scientific developments mean our understanding of the human brain is ever increasing. But this knowledge might ultimately raise questions about the degree to which human behaviour is a product of our conscious choices, or results from the biology and chemistry of our brains. The Neuro-Ethics Film Festival provides an ideal opportunity for audiences to consider how such insight into the functioning of people’s minds might have implications not only for the individual, but society as a whole.”
Dr Calum MacKellar, Director of Research for the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, and Festival co-ordinator commented:
“Questions around morality, social responsibility, and what governs human behaviour have always been important subjects for filmmakers. The films screened during our Festival all raise questions about the degree to which we have free will, the extent to which our behaviour is ultimately controlled by our biological brains, and the ethical implications that result from this. The discussions that follow each film – featuring experts in medicine, biology, sociology and ethics – will allow audiences to consider further the degree to which our biology influences our behaviour and what the consequences of this might be.”
Commenting on the involvement of the Mason Institute for Medicine, Life Sciences and the Law, in the Festival, Institute Deputy Director Dr Shawn Harmon said:
“New scientific knowledge and debates around the relationship between neurobiology, human free will and individual behaviour could have profound implications for how the law is understood and how it is applied. These subjects are highly relevant to the emerging work of the Mason Institute and we are therefore delighted to be supporting the Neuro-Ethics Film Festival for the first time in 2012.
“Members of the institute will undertake an active role in the wider discussions relating to the films that make up the Festival programme and we look forward to continued future involvement in the Festival.”
Rod White, Head of Programming for Filmhouse, Edinburgh noted:
“Film provides an ideal medium through which to study human behaviour and the implications this has upon wider society. Our programming at the Filmhouse frequently sets out to stimulate debate and increase understanding of important ethical issues, and that is why we are once again delighted to host the Bioethics Film Festival. The films that make up this year’s Festival consider many facets of neuro-ethics, and the moral implications that accompany them. By also encouraging audiences and experts to debate the issues portrayed in each screening, the Festival will further enhance engagement with the subjects they consider.”
The film festival is organised in partnership with: (1) the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics – www.schb.org.uk, (2) Filmhouse, Edinburgh – www.filmhousecinema.com/ (3) The ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum – www.genomicsnetwork.ac.uk/forum and (4) the Mason Institute, Law School, The University of Edinburgh – http://masoninstitute.org/.
For full information on the programme and panellists, visit: www.filmhousecinema.com/seasons/neuroethics-film-festival-2012
For ticket information - Visit Filmhouse website or contact Filmhouse Box Office on: 0131 228 2688 (Open from 10am - 9pm daily).
For further information and to arrange interviews, please contact: Chris Berry, Press and Communications Officer, Genomics Forum
firstname.lastname@example.org / Tel: 0131 651 4746.
Note to Editors:
- Festival Films
The Neuro-ethics Film Festival 2012 will run between Friday 23 and Sunday 25 November 2012. The programme includes:
- Limitless – Drama, Neil Burger (2011), rated 15.
- Out of Control– Documentary, Ben Lawrie (2011), rated 12.
- The Secret You – Documentary, Dan Walker (2009), rated 12.
- The Matrix – Drama, Andy & Larry Wachowski (1999), rated 15.
- The Manchurian Candidate – Drama, John Frankenheimer (1962), rated 12A.
- A Clockwork Orange – Stanley Kubrick (1971), rated 18.
- Panellists include:
- Dr Martyn Pickersgill, the Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Biomedical Ethics.
- Dr Donald Bruce, Edinethics Ltd.
- Chris O’Sullivan, Senior Project Manager, Mental Health Foundation.
- Graeme Cook, UK National Commission for UNESCO Scotland Committee.
- Christine Growney, Vice-Chair of the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics.
- Dr Tillmann Vierkant, Philosophy of the Mind, University of Edinburgh.
- Bishop Brian Smith, UK National Commission for UNESCO Scotland Committee.
- Dr Chris Willmott, Senior Lecturer in Bioethics, University of Leicester.
- Dr. Yasemin J. Erden, Centre for Bioethics & Emerging Technologies,
St Mary's University College.
- Dr Andrew R Watson, Division of Psychiatry, University of Edinburgh.
- Dr Hazel McHaffie, Formerly Deputy Director of Research at the Institute of Medical Ethics.
- Dr Richard Jones - Lecturer in Criminology, Edinburgh Law School, University of Edinburgh.
- Dr Sarah Dillon - Lecturer in Contemporary Literature, University of St Andrews.
- Professor Stephen Lawrie - Professor of Psychiatry, University of Edinburgh.
- Dr Gill Haddow, Deputy Director, the Mason Institute.
- Film Festival Organising Partners
- The ESRC Genomics Forum has a commitment to promote social research on the contemporary life sciences around issues including designer babies, synthetic blood, DNA profiling, identity politics, personalised medicine, stem cell research and synthetic biology. Creative engagements form a valuable part of this work helping to reach new audiences. Based at the University of Edinburgh, the Forum runs a programme of national and international activities to draw natural and social scientists, policy makers, regulators, civil society and business into an ongoing dialogue about the relationship between genomics and society. The Forum is part of the ESRC Genomics Network.
- The Scottish Council on Human Bioethics is an independent, non-partisan, non-religious registered Scottish charity composed of doctors, lawyers, psychologists, ethicists and other professionals from disciplines associated with medical ethics. The principles to which the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics subscribe are set out in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted and proclaimed by the UN General Assembly by resolution 217A (III) on 10 December 1948.
- The Mason Institute, based at the University of Edinburgh, serves as an interdisciplinary research hub aimed at investigating the ethical, legal, social and political implications and impacts of new technologies and practices in medicine and the life sciences, which are likely to have an ever greater and deeper impact on the everyday lives of individuals, groups and societies. The Mason Institute undertakes an expanding portfolio of work that will lead to greater insights into the governance and regulation of medicine and the life science, doing so via direct and ongoing engagement with regulatory and user communities. Drawing on an international network of academics, the Institute works collaboratively with industry, scientists, policy makers and the public.
- Filmhouse was opened in 1979 and has since been one of the leading entertainment and cultural venues in Edinburgh, showcasing an array of cinema. Throughout the year Filmhouse showcases the best cinema from across the world, including new feature films, re-releases, retrospectives, and a variety mini-seasons and festivals, as well as playing host each June to its sister organisation the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Filmhouse is also committed to learning, running a range of both formal and informal film education programmes.
- The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC’s total budget for 2012/13 is £205 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. More at www.esrc.ac.uk.