SCINEMA, pronounced with a long ‘i’ to emphasise the science behind the cinema, is an international science film festival based in Australia, providing a platform on which filmmakers, professional, amateur and student, can showcase their science films, from dramas to documentaries, animations or epic natural history. The festival was founded with the aim of forging links between the sciences and the arts. SCINEMA accepts entries from all over the world. It is operated by The Royal Institution of Australia.
Founded in 2000 by Rebecca Scott and Damian Harris, the first festival in 2001 played only in Canberra (at the Centre Cinema) and was well attended, with some sold-out performances. Originally hosted by CSIRO, the festival grew steadily over the 2000s.
After a brief hiatus (there was no festival in 2014-15), SCINEMA found a new home with the Royal Institution of Australia. The 2016 Festival received over 1,300 submissions from over 80 countries and premiered in cities around Australia on 18 June 2016. The festival also hosts a community screening program as part of National Science Week, where community groups and schools can register to run their own screening program. In 2016 over 240 events were held around Australia, with a screening even held on the Davis Station in Antarctica.
In 2017, over 37,000 people participated in the festival which was screened at 317 events around Australia.
Since that time the festival has grown each year, but the period from 2020 saw the emergence of COVID limit live screenings. On the other hand, streaming screenings have taken off with over 100,000 viewers regularly viewing the content.