Oct 31 2017 Posted: 00:00 GMT

Two science documentaries produced through Galway UNESCO City of Film and CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, have achieved great success in reaching numerous audiences in Ireland and internationally, with a third documentary, Bittersweet – the Rise of Diabetes, scheduled to premiere during Science Week this November, as part of the Galway Science and Technology Festival 2017.

Bittersweet – The Rise of Diabetes is a half-hour documentary directed by Hugh Rodgers and produced by both Anna Rodgers and Zlata Filipovic of Invisible Thread Films. The film captures the health system’s fight to treat the rising number of diabetic patients, and warns against this troubling epidemic facing our population. It follows the personal stories of young people who are living with diabetes and their daily struggle to manage it. Over the course of the documentary, we also discover ground-breaking research and development in pharmacology and biomedical science, capturing the important work of CÚRAM’s Professor David Brayden and his team at UCD’s Veterinary Hospital, where they are developing new ways of delivering insulin to the body.

In 2015, CÚRAM joined forces with Galway Film Centre and Galway UNESCO City of Film, to invite filmmakers to make two science films. The pilot of the ‘Science on Screen’ initiative, funded through Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Programme, resulted in two high quality 26-minute science documentaries that incorporated areas of research currently taking place in CÚRAM: Feats of Modest Valour and Mending Legends

These two films have gone from strength to strength, scooping broadcast slots with both TG4 and RTÉ, screening at numerous film festivals in Europe and the US and are being used extensively and continuously as part of CÚRAM’s public engagement programme. Screenings have taken place at community events and schools, as well as at academic conferences both in Ireland and abroad. The filmmakers have been invited to represent Ireland at festivals overseas including dokumentART in Germany, and have been nominated for awards like the Short Lens Competition, Guth Gafa. Over 200,000 people have viewed the films and over 40 screenings have been held to date. Feats of Modest Valour recently won the AAAS Scientist Award as well as the runner up People's Choice Award at the prestigious Imagine Science Film Festival in New York City.

Professor Abhay Pandit, Centre Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said: “The films have had an incredibly broad reach and a significant impact on audiences all over the country and beyond. We have been hugely impressed with how these filmmakers have taken on the scientific information and woven together stories that have a powerful impact on their audiences, showing not only what a difference a career in research can make, but showing the real challenges that people face when living with chronic illness that we are trying to address.

“Given the huge success of the programme to-date, not only in terms of how far the films have travelled, but also audience feedback, the enthusiasm of researchers to share their stories and the skill and initiative shown by the filmmakers in engaging with scientific information and getting right to the heart of the story, we plan to continue the initiative with our partners at Galway Film Centre who have excelled in guiding the filmmakers through the process each year.”

Commenting on the success of the films, Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Strategy and Communications at Science Foundation Ireland, said: “We are delighted to see how well these high-quality documentaries have been received and commend CÚRAM on their success. Science Foundation Ireland is committed to making science accessible to all. Through our Discover Programme we are delivering scientific programmes which inform the public about the work they are funding, and will also inspire the next generation of scientists, those who will drive Ireland’s future economy and shape our society.”

In Feats of Modest Valour, viewers meet three individuals living with the physical challenges of Parkinson’s disease. Brian Carney from County Mayo works on the family farm, while Milena Lulic who lives in Galway City recounts her days in World War II in Croatia. Tom Hickey, an Irish actor who recently received a lifetime achievement award at the Abbey Theatre from President Michael D. Higgins, talks about how suffering for his art takes on a whole new meaning with the disease. Meanwhile, researchers on the ‘BrainMatTrain project led by CÚRAM and Dr Eilis Dowd at
NUI Galway, are searching for a way to halt the disease. The film is co-directed and co-produced by Mia Mullarkey and Alice McDowell of Ishka Films.

Directed by Paul Webster and produced by James Ryan of StationHouse Media, Mending Legends explores the physical and psychological impact of tendon injuries amongst athletes and visits the team of Galway-based scientists, led by Dr Dimitrios Zeugolis in CÚRAM at NUI Galway, who are designing a new type of tendon implant, in the form of the world’s first 3D cell assembled tendon prototype.

Declan Gibbons, Manager of Galway Film Centre and Director of Galway UNESCO City of Film, said: “We are very proud of the two Science on Screen films and how well they have travelled. It is testament to the work of the filmmakers and the exciting scientific research that takes place in CÚRAM. We look forward to the next Science on Screen film, Bittersweet – The Rise of Diabetes, this November and rolling out the scheme again in 2018.”

To register and attend the free screening of Bittersweet – The Rise of Diabetes at An Taibhdhearc in Galway on 25 November, visit: https://science-on-screen-2017.eventbrite.ie

Feats of Modest Valour will screen on the 12 of November at 10.35pm on RTÉ 1 coinciding with the start of National Science Week.

Mending Legends was aired on TG4 on 24 September and is still available to view on the TG4 Player.


For further information contact Claire Riordan, CÚRAM, Centre for Research in Medical Devices, NUI Galway at claire.riordan@nuigalway.ie or Mary Deely, Galway Film Centre / Galway UNESCO City of Film at education@galwayfilmcentre.ie.

For further information contact Gwen O’Sullivan, Press and Information Executive, NUI Galway at gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie or 091 495695.

Notes to Editors


CÚRAM is the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, located at NUI Galway. Established in 2015, our aim is to improve the quality of life for patients suffering from chronic illness. We intend to do this by developing and enhancing the next generation of medical devices that target chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and neurogenerative diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinson’s Disease. See www.curamdevices.ie for more information or follow us on Twitter @curamdevices.

About Galway Film Centre

Founded in 1989, Galway Film Centre is a non-profit, members based organisation dedicated to the development of film as an artistic medium in the West of Ireland. To this end, we support filmmakers, community and youth groups through education and training, equipment provision and information.

In 2014 Galway was awarded the prestigious title of UNESCO City of Film as a result of a bid led by Galway Film Centre in partnership with both local authorities and over 50 local companies involved in the audiovisual sector. Since gaining the designation Galway City Council, Galway County Council, Bord Scannán na hÉireann / The Irish Film Board, Údarás na Gaeltacht and TG4 have all been involved in setting up a governance structure whereby the UNESCO City of Film offices are now housed within Galway Film Centre. This initiative is also supported by Galway Picture Palace, Galway Film Fleadh, Telegael, Eo Telifís and all of the main production companies and filmmakers based in Galway city and county.

Further information on the Science on Screen Initiative can be found at:  http://www.galwayfilmcentre.ie/category/science-on-screen/

About NUI Galway

The University was established in the heart of Galway City, on the west coast of Ireland, in 1845. Since then it has advanced knowledge teaching and learning, through research and innovation, and community engagement.

Over 18,000 students study at NUI Galway, where 2,600 staff provide the very best in research-led education.

NUI Galway’s teaching and research is recognised through its consistent rise in international rankings. The University is placed in the Top 250 of both the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2016/2017 and the QS World University Rankings 2016/17.

With an extensive network of industry, community and academic collaborators around the world, NUI Galway researchers are tackling some of the most pressing issues of our times. Internationally renowned research centres based at NUI Galway include the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, Moore Institute, Institute for Life course and Society and The Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy.

NUI Galway has been listed as one of the most beautiful universities in Europe according to Business Insider. For more information visit www.nuigalway.ie or view all NUI Galway news here.

*The University's official title is National University of Ireland Galway. Please note that the only official abbreviation is NUI Galway.



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