The three days of the film festival circulate through a broad spectrum of interlinked scientific concerns, and how those concerns modify human lives. For our closing night, however, we’ll look beyond the earth and humanity. Michael Madsen’s new feature The Visit, examines the possibility of visitors from far from the Earth. This subject is commonly addressed in fiction, but much less often as impeccably credible (yet wildly inventive) documentary. The film will be preceded by an audiovisual look at another phenomenon that reaches the Earth from beyond our skies.

The Visit | 83 min | Michael Madsen | Denmark/Austria/Ireland/Finland/Norway | 2015

In the event of an actual first contact with extraterrestrials, how would real world governments react? We don’t need to rely on science fiction to explore this scenario when the U.N. has already set up an entire department to consider the problem and to stay prepared for anything, as well as to run detailed simulations of the possibilities. A documentary investigation of an event that has never yet taken place, and has until now been relegated to science fiction.


Michael Madsen was born in 1971. He is a director of several documentaries a.o. the Award-winning To Damascus – a Film on Interpretation (2005) and founder and artistic leader of the Sound/Gallery, a 900 square meter sound diffusion system underneath the Town Hall Square in Copenhagen, Denmark (1996-2001). Selected art projects include: Audience (van Gogh#7), design of SPOR 2007, festival for new music and sound art; and Public Service (van Gogh#6) Phase 1: Idea and concept for a new music library in Odense, Denmark. In addition, Michael has been guest lecturer at a.o. The Royal Danish Academy of Art, The Danish Film School, and The Danish School of Design.

Preceded by:

20Hz | 5 min | Semiconductor | UK | 2011

Observing a geo-magnetic storm occurring in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, 20Hz turns data collected from the CARISMA radio array first to sound, and then into tangible and sculptural forms suggestive of scientific visualisations.

Followed by a panel discussion with:

Joe Gerhardt, Semiconductor & Director of 20Hz

Semiconductor is UK artist duo Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt. In their work they explore the material nature of our world and how we experience it through the lens of science and technology, questioning how they mediate our experiences of nature. Their unique approach which combines moving image, installation, digital animation, sound works and sculpture has won them many awards and prestigious fellowships including; Samsung Art + Prize 2012 for new media, Smithsonian Artists Research Fellowship and a NASA Space Sciences Fellowship. Recent exhibitions include Let There Be Light, House of Electronic Arts, Basel (solo show); Worlds in the Making, FACT, Liverpool (solo show); Earth; Art of a Changing World, Royal Academy of Arts, London; Da Vinci: Shaping the Future, ArtScience Museum, Singapore; Field Conditions, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; International Film Festival Rotterdam and Sundance Film Festival. Their first public sculpture Cosmos was unveiled in October 2014 commissioned by Jerwood Open Forest.

Francesco Armaedo, Head of Physics department

Francesco Arneodo is an experimental physicist with a focus on the intersection between astrophysics and particle physics. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Rome — La Sapienza and his Master’s degree from the University of Torino, Italy. He spent most of his career at the Gran Sasso Laboratory (Italy) starting with the EAS-TOP cosmic ray experiment. He also worked on neutrino physics with liquid argon detectors and more recently on the search for Dark Matter in the framework of the XENON program. He is part of the team that, in 2012, gave birth to the Gran Sasso Science Institute, a new graduate school in L’Aquila, Italy. In 2011, being interested also in socio-economic aspects of science, he obtained an M.B.A. degree from the University of Warwick (UK). He joined NYUAD in fall 2013, teaching a laboratory course where he strives to share with students the pleasure of making physics alive.In his spare time, he tries to pursue two great passions, climbing and sailing.

Moderated by Mohammad Yahia – Chief Editor, Nature Middle East

Mohammed Yahia is the executive editor of Nature Publishing Group in the Middle East. He joined NPG six years ago as the launch editor of Nature Middle East, an online portal that focuses on science and science-related news from the Arab world. He now works with the editorial teams of all NPG publications in the Middle East and Africa as well as several custom publications. After receiving his bachelor degree in pharmacology, he spent a couple of years working in community pharmacies to large pharma companies before he ended up in science journalism and has never looked back since. He is also currently the vice president of the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) and has been the vice president of the Arab Science Journalists Association for the past three years. Prior to joining NPG, Mohammed was the Middle East and North Africa region coordinator for SciDev.Net and has written for several different publications around the world, including IDRC, The Daily Star Egypt and Turkish Weekly. He has also taught a course on the internet and media convergence at the American University in Cairo.