Supported Films

Science Sandbox supports documentary and other nonfiction film projects that communicate sophisticated science to general audiences in meaningful ways through innovative storytelling. Below is a list of supported projects. For information about our creative partnership with Sundance Institute, visit here.

The Most Unknown

Status Released
Distribution VOD; Digital Series; Network Television
Production Vice / Motherboard (in association with Science Sandbox)

The Most Unknown is a new documentary film and digital series that sends nine scientists across the world to explore some of humanity's biggest questions. How did life begin? What is time? What is consciousness? How much do we really know? Together, they explore the most unknown areas of each other’s work. Along the way, they return to something fundamental about the nature of discovery: Why are seemingly unanswerable questions worth asking? The Most Unknown had its world premiere on March 16, 2018, at the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival. The film was released in theaters across 20 US Cities through Abramorama, and is now available to stream on Netflix.

Oliver Sacks: The Life of the Mind

Status Post-Production
Distribution Theatrical; Broadcast Television; VOD
Production Steeplechase Films

From Ric Burns, the film explores the riveting and profoundly moving life and work of the world-renowned neurologist, clinician, and writer — based on unique footage shot in the months before his death, including over 80 hours with Sacks himself, his partner Billy Hayes, and some of his closest friends and family. Clip above is a work-in-progress scene from the film.

The Serengeti Rules

Status Released
Distribution Theatrical; Television; VOD
Production Passion Planet / Tangled Bank Studios

How does life work? Are there general rules that govern nature? Can science help us to understand those rules, and in turn help us to heal damaged ecosystems? The Serengeti Rules, a feature-length documentary film, connects these dots to reveal the invisible links that bind sea otters, whales, and kelp forests to ocean survival, and where wolves enable rivers to run clear. It’s a story of a handful of young scientists with bold ideas that will forever change the way you see nature. The film had its premiere at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival in April.

Experiments in Science Storytelling

Status Released
Distribution VOD
Production Two Turtle Productions

From Elliot Kirschner’s Two Turtle Productions, three boundary-pushing short films: “A Brief History of Fat,” a look at the science of fat that uses animation and interviews to tell a surprising story; “Dr. Banting's Miracle Drug,” which contrasts the Hollywood version of the discovery of insulin with a more nuanced narrative; and “The New Face of Diabetes,” which follows the diabetes crisis in India, and was distributed by Motherboard. Currently streaming on Motherboard.

“The Bit Player”

Status Post-production
Distribution Theatrical
Production Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

There are few people of such brilliance and influence that one can say that if they hadn’t existed, the world would be a radically different place. Claude Shannon clearly belongs in that rarified camp. Not only did Shannon create the field of information theory (in 1948), but at the same time he identified most of its fundamental problems and solved them. His ideas laid the foundation for the information age, influencing nearly every aspect of modern life, including the fields of computing, communication, language, genetics, cryptography, psychology, artificial intelligence and cosmology. The great mystery is: Why isn’t Claude Shannon a household name? Clip above is a work-in-progress scene from the film.

The Great Math Mystery

Status Released
Distribution Broadcast Television; VOD
Production NOVA/PBS

“The Great Math Mystery” is an Emmy Award-nominated film that takes viewers on a mathematical mystery tour — a provocative exploration of math's astonishing power across the centuries. We discover math's signature in the swirl of a nautilus shell, the whirlpool of a galaxy, and the spiral in the center of a sunflower. It all leads to the ultimate riddle: Is math a human invention or the discovery of the language of the universe? Aired on April 15, 2015, currently streaming on

Amazon Adventure

Status In theaters
Distribution Theatrical; VOD
Production SK Films

“Amazon Adventure” tells the dramatic story of the largely unknown 19th century naturalist, explorer and Darwin contemporary Henry Walter Bates, who spent 11 years in the Amazon. Darwin called Bates’ evidence the “beautiful proof” of evolution and included Bates' discoveries in all subsequent editions of “On the Origin of Species.” The film was released in April 2017, and is currently playing at IMAX theaters across the country.

Nova: “The Mathematics of Prediction”

A PBS-Nova documentary exploring how we use math to model complex systems and make better predictions as a result.

Following in the footsteps of its popular program “The Great Math Mystery,” Nova will take viewers on a new mathematical odyssey in “The Mathematics of Prediction,” using graphics to bring numbers to life and exploring real-world examples that illustrate both the power and the challenges of mathematical analysis. Complexity and uncertainty are evident everywhere in the world around us, in natural systems like the weather and in human constructs like the economy. But scientists and mathematicians are constantly working to find meaningful patterns and build better predictive models using old methods like Bayesian probability and new ones like machine-learning algorithms.

Numbers are powerful, but they can also be confusing, and in this era of digital technology and ‘big data,’ it’s easy to feel as though we’re drowning in them. “The Mathematics of Prediction” aims to show Nova viewers “How Not to Be Wrong” (as mathematician Jordan Ellenberg put it in the title of his most recent book) by deploying the right math when we make predictions that materially affect our lives.

NOVA: Prediction by the Numbers

Status Released
Distribution Broadcast Television; VOD
Production NOVA/PBS

From the glitz of casinos and TV game shows to the life-and-death stakes of storm forecasts and the flaws of opinion polls that can swing an election, “Prediction by the Numbers” explores stories of statistics in action. Yet advances in machine learning and big data models that increasingly rule our lives are also posing big, disturbing questions. How much should we trust predictions made by algorithms when we don’t understand how they arrive at them? And how far ahead can we really forecast? Aired on February 28, 2018, currently streaming on
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