In this special collaboration with MoMA, a screening of The Bourne Identity was followed by a panel discussion in which the film’s producer/director Doug Liman was joined by psychiatrist and neuroscientist Giulio Tononi to explore the science behind The Bourne Trilogy. Film scholar and producer/screenwriter James Schamus (Co-President of Focus Features) moderated a discussion about brain function, memory, personality, and identity as seen through the lens of the remarkable character, Jason Bourne.
The program was presented to coincide with a series of screenings of The Bourne Trilogy – recently acquired by MoMA’s Film Department for its permanent collection.
James Schamus is CEO of Focus Features, and an associate professor at Columbia University’s School of the Arts in New York City, where he teaches film history and theory. An integral contributor to the American independent film business for over two decades, Schamus has the unique distinction of being an award-winning screenwriter and producer who is also a film executive. He is a Golden Globe Award winner and multiple Academy Award nominee for his screenwriting and songwriting (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and producing (Brokeback Mountain); he was also awarded the prize for Best Screenplay at the 1997 Cannes International Film Festival for The Ice Storm.
Focus, formed in May 2002, is a motion picture production, financing, and worldwide distribution company whose Oscar-winning films have included Brokeback Mountain, Lost in Translation, and Atonement. Prior to the formation of Focus, Schamus was co-president of the independent film production company Good Machine, which he co-founded in 1991. Schamus’ other honors include being named the 2006 Presidential Fellow in the Humanities at the University of Chicago and receiving the Writers Guild of America, East’s 2003 Richard B. Jablow Award for devoted service to the Guild.
Giulio Tononi is an award-winning psychiatrist and neuroscientist whose main focus has been the scientific understanding of consciousness. His integrated information theory is a comprehensive theory of what consciousness is, how it can be measured, and how it is realized in the brain. The theory is being tested with neuroimaging, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and computer models.
His work also focuses on understanding the function of sleep. He and his collaborators study species ranging from fruit flies to humans, from the molecular and cellular level to the systems level. This research has led to the synaptic homeostasis hypothesis, according to which sleep is needed to renormalize synapses, counteracting the progressive increase in synaptic strength that occurs during wakefulness due to learning. The hypothesis has implications for understanding the effects of sleep deprivation and for developing diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to sleep disorders and neuropsychiatric disorders.
In 2005, Dr. Tononi received the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award for his work on sleep mechanism and function. He holds the David P. White Chair in Sleep Medicine and the Distinguished Chair in Consciousness Science at the University of Wisconsin.
Doug Liman is an American film director and producer, whose credits include The Bourne Identity (2002), The Bourne Supremacy (2004), and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007).