SETI Institute Supports Film Project That Spans Space, Quantum Physics and Neuroscience

space film

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Insider Brief

  • The SETI Institute is supporting project that combines neuroscience, quantum physics and space exploration.
  • Doppelgängers3 project challenges conventional narratives of space colonization by integrating diverse perspectives.
  • The film will premier at SXSW 2024.
  • Image: Nick Ballón

PRESS RELEASE — The SETI Institute, leading humanity’s quest to understand the origins and prevalence of life and intelligence in the universe and share that knowledge with the world, is pioneering innovative approaches to understanding our place in the cosmos. The SETI Institute is proud to support a groundbreaking project from London-based filmmaker and SETI Institute Designer of Experiences Dr. Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian that combines insights from intergenerational trauma, neuroscience, quantum physics, and space exploration.

Premiering at SXSW 2024, Doppelgängers3 is a feature film and research project that challenges conventional narratives of space colonization by integrating diverse perspectives. Ben Hayoun-Stépanian will present this multidisciplinary endeavor at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2024, highlighting its unique blend of science, culture, and storytelling within the decolonial space and space culture sessions.

The project spotlights the importance of acknowledging collective trauma and its impacts — a burgeoning field in neuropsychology research. By weaving together the stories of three individuals across different geographies, Doppelgängers3 imagines a utopian community on the moon that learns from the past and aspires to a future where diversity and plurality are celebrated.

Doppelgängers3 poses critical questions about these visions, urging a reconsideration of space exploration through a lens that values inclusivity, ethical considerations, and transnational thinking.

Dr. Franck Marchis, Senior Astronomer and Director of Unistellar Citizen Science at the SETI Institute, and a scientific advisor to Doppelgängers3, emphasized the project’s approach. ” It transcends traditional documentaries by blending neuroscience, quantum physics, and space science with a human touch, fostering new dialogues and collaborations while adding a sprinkle of fun and humor.”

The initiative aims to spark conversations in the space science community and contribute to a joint paper for the International Astronautical Congress (IAC).

The filmmakers hope that Doppelgängers3 will not be just a film but a movement to decolonize the space sector and imagine new futures that honor our shared humanity and diversity. The project, with its world premiere at SXSW 2024 in the Feature Documentary, Vision Category, invites audiences to engage with bold ideas and creative visions that challenge the status quo.

For more information and updates on Doppelgängers3, visit

Screening dates at SXSW are:

  • March 9, 12pm – 1:15pm, Alamo Lamar 9
  • March 9, 12:30pm – 1:43pm, Alamo Lamar 3
  • March 10, 2:45pm – 3:58pm, Satellite Venue, AFS Cinema
  • March 13, 10:45am – 11:58am, Alamo Lamar 6

The SETI Institute will be presenting a panel discussion at SXSW on Friday, March 8 at 11:30 am (JW Marriott, Salon ABC):

Finding E.T.  Then What?
The quest for E.T. accelerates as humanity’s technology advances. Powerful tools and global collaboration aim to detect signals from alien civilizations. If we find them, understanding and responding will pose unprecedented challenges. Two ground-breaking scientists will join with an artist who staged a revolutionary piece of global theater called A Sign in Space: creating and transmitting an “extraterrestrial” message to be decoded and interpreted by SETI professionals and the public. Can we unite the people of Earth to be prepare for a message from the real E.T.?

The conversation will be moderated by Dr. Franck Marchis and include SETI AIR artist Daniela DePaulis along with Dr. Shelley Wright and Dr. Wael Farah.

Ben Hayoun-Stépanian will also participate in a panel discussion on Friday, March 8 at 4 pm (Austin Convention Center, Room 9C):

Space Feminisms: Reimagining People, Planets, & Power
As informed by the upcoming edited volume “Space Feminisms” (Bloomsbury Press), this panel leverages feminism as a powerful mode of analysis to launch alternate narratives and materialities proposing novel historical interpretations and contemporary configurations of outer space—as informed by the humanities, the social sciences, the arts, and design. Through a dynamic conversation between the book’s editors and contributors, we will explore innovative tactics and disruptive participations to envision generative, alternative, and equitable futures in outer space.

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