Next Thursday, October 28 at the Royal, we’re pleased to screen a special, autobiographical film from French-Venezuelan filmmaker and biologist Alexis Gambis, SON OF MONARCHS. It’s about a Mexican biologist living in New York. After his grandmother’s death, he returns to his hometown, nestled in the majestic monarch butterfly forests of Michoacán. The journey forces him to confront past traumas and reflect on his hybrid identity, sparking a personal and spiritual metamorphosis.
Gambis’ films combine documentary and fiction, often embracing animal perspectives and experimenting with new forms of scientific storytelling. In 2008, he founded the Imagine Science Film Festival that recently celebrated its 13th year of showcasing science in film from around the world. In 2016, he launched the sister portal Labocine. Coined the “Netflix for science,” the VOD platform provides a virtual ecosystem to experience science cinema in all its flavors by hybridizing forms, and fostering a dialogue between scientists, artists and educator. SON OF MONARCHS dissects issues of identity, (im)migration and animal/human evolution. This Mexican-American bilingual allegorical drama had its home premiere in October 2020 at the 18th Festival Internacional de Cine de Morelia and International Premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. The film was awarded the 2021 Alfred P. Sloan Prize, awarded every year to a film at the Sundance Film Festival that focuses on science or technology as a theme, or depicts a scientist, engineer, or mathematician as a major character. As a recipient of the 2019 TED Fellowship, his TED Talk makes a case for more science in fiction to humanize the scientist in the public eye and to inform a broader audience on the interplay of research advancements, scientific representations and social issues.
Here’s an interview Gambis did with Deadline at Sundance earlier this year, in which they discuss cultural identity, immigration and “The Poetry And Musicality Of Being A Scientist:”
SON OF MONARCHS has insorceled critics:
“The film’s rich imagery will be imprinted in your memory, returning to you in dreams.” – The New York Times – Critic’s Pick, Isabelia Herrera
“A daring mosaic which floats like a butterfly…a visually flamboyant film.” – Screen International, Jonathan Romney
“SON OF MONARCHS links art and science.” – Variety, Anna Maria de La Fuente
“Science meets magical realism in SON OF MONARCHS.” Scientific American, Pakinam Amer
“A poignant story of transformation.” – IndieWire, Judi Dry
“A lyrical portrait of fractured identity.” – The Film Stage, Diego Andaluz
“A piece of art that captivates as much as it informs.” – Playlist, Gregory Ellwood
“Gambis brings together science and spirituality within the beauty of cinema and the power of visual storytelling that is poetic and meaningful.” Film Threat, Sabina Dana Plasse