12 Jun Is Slime Intelligent?
The creator behind Smart Slime? explains why, out of all the things she could film, she chose slime.
Winner of SCINEMA’s Award for Scientific Merit, Smart Slime? is the work of first-year film student Juliette Martineau, who is studying at the National Film and Television School, England.
Her brief was to make a 10-minute documentary on science or nature – and she chose slime.
For many people, slime mould is disgusting, so why was Juliette driven to make a documentary about it?
Juliette had heard about previous research on slime moulds, and it’s been proven that even without a nervous system, slime is capable of learning.
“Slime moulds were the first organisms rigorously proven to be capable of learning without a nervous system, and that news blew my mind!”
It was then, she knew she wanted to spread the word about this fascinating organism.
“The aim was to make a film that creates wonder by showing people how beautiful, strange and impressive those organisms are, and I hope we’ve succeeded!”
“Slime moulds have a strange beauty and are quite mesmerising when sped up.”
The experiments themselves are visually appealing and perfect for film, so she decided to grow her own mould and recreate them for the film.
“Of course, the slime moulds are living things and it was impossible to predict exactly how they were going to behave.”
But for Juliette that’s what makes filmmaking exciting.
Some of the experiments themselves were just as bizarre as the mould they were trying to understand. But Juliette, who was on the path to becoming a researcher in evolutionary genetics before deciding to make films, took it as an opportunity to show the creativity that goes on in research labs.
Slime moulds have evolved complex capabilities for survival and reproduction, even though they don’t have brains.
The film shows how “slime moulds are capable of building intricate and efficient networks that rival man-made ones and learning by habituation”.
It challenges people to consider whether slime moulds could be considered intelligent.
You can decide for yourself if you think Slime is intelligent, at a SCINEMA screening near you. See a compilation of the award-winning films and festival entries in an amazing two-hour viewing experience, celebrating science on the big screen. SCINEMA premiere screenings will take place at cinemas around Australia from 28 May to 13 June. Tickets on sale now!