Scottish Council on Human Bioethics

Biomedical Ethics Film Festival on the topic of 'Human Dignity'

The Biomedical Ethics Film Festival is a new and exciting crosscutting event promoting the engagement of society in the complex field of biomedical ethics, and human dignity in particular.

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  • Community Support & DevelopmentCommunity Support & Development
  • Education/Training/EmploymentEducation/Training/Employment
  • Health/WellbeingHealth/Wellbeing


  • Children (3-18)Children (3-18)
  • Older PeopleOlder People
  • Women & GirlsWomen & Girls
  • Young People (18-30)Young People (18-30)
  • OtherOther



PRESENTATION To do this, a three day film festival (November 2010) will be prepared in Edinburgh in which short-films, documentaries and drama-fiction films will be presented all relating to biomedical ethics and human dignity to both high-school students (special sessions will be organised for the pupils) and members of the general public. At the end of each film, a discussion with a panel of 3-4 invited biomedical and bioethics experts in addition to relevant politicians will take place for 30 min. This will encourage and support the pupils and the participating general public to engage in an informed and useful discussion with one another and the experts concerning some of the important bioethical issues which the public believed were raised by the films. The venues for the events will be the prestigious Filmhouse in Edinburgh ( The films will be presented in the mornings for schools and in the afternoons as well as in the evenings for members of the general public to enable maximum numbers to attend. Potential benefits or significant results: With the support of the University of Edinburgh and contributions from scientific staff, the prospective impact of the Biomedical Ethics Film Festival will be to raise the awareness and understanding of the general public concerning ethical issues resulting from biomedical developments with respect to human dignity, including both the perceived advantages and dangers. This will be done through the consideration of the Biomedical Ethics Film Festival as an exciting new programme model and example in the interchange between disciplines and the general public of a major science and society event. The film festivals will seek to provide information on human dignity in a clear and understandable manner while at the same time being entertaining, challenging and enjoyable for the participants. The choice of films will both address the present relevant scientific state of the art through the presentation of documentaries but also future possibilities in the projection of science-fiction/drama films enabling the public to consider potential developments and risks. Participants will thereby be attracted by an event using a medium with which they are familiar and find non-threatening. The film festivals will, in this way, counter the often widespread assumption that the explanation of new scientific procedures and their ethical consequences with respect to human dignity is both too complex and uninteresting for the general public. Innovative or unique nature of the project: This project will be a new and original model of an event encouraging the engagement of society in biomedical ethics in general, and human dignity in particular, to be considered. DETAILS OF PROJECT END GOALS The potential for the Biomedical Ethics Film Festival to become a success was established in the light of similar events having taken place such as the 2003 ‘Reel Madness’ mental health film festival (which was fully booked) in London and the projection of the film GATTACA in the Edinburgh Filmhouse during the Edinburgh International Science Festival of 2004 (the projection had to be moved to a bigger cinema because of numbers). The applicants are thus confident that appropriate numbers of participants will be attracted to a film festival which supports quality scientific content while promoting and encouraging a wide discussion concerning the different ethical issues being presented. Moreover, the school sessions will be promoted and organised by the full-time Education and Events Coordinator at the Edinburgh Filmhouse. The success of this event will demonstrate that such film festivals could, in future, be self-funding through the sale of film tickets for other biomedical ethics topics. It could also enable ‘sister’ biomedical ethics film festivals (having as their main topic issues such as ‘human cloning’ or ‘transplantation’) to be set up around the UK which can work together and in co-operation in addition to creating synergy in the development of new dialogues between science and society. BRIEF FINANCIAL BREAKDOWN - Premises costs at the Edinburgh Filmhouse (partly sponsored by the Edinburgh Filmhouse): £ 1500 - Specific publicity (leaflets) costs prepared by the Edinburgh Filmhouse: £ 500 - Media Officer costs (out-sourced to Free-lance journalist) who has already accepted to cover the event: £ 500 - Postage (stamps and mailing of publicity leaflets ): £ 300 - Phone/fax photocopying/internet expenses in the preparation of the Film Festival: £ 300 - Film Hire and Transport to the Edinburgh Filmhouse: £ 1000 - Staff Costs (Scottish Council on Human Bioethics): £ 1000 - 30,000 Filmhouse monthly programme brochures going to all of Edinburgh - (funded by the Edinburgh Filmhouse) and web-page on Filmhouse web site £ 3000 TOTAL £ 8100