Without three gifted mathematicians, America might not have put its first man into space in 1961. That they were also female and black in a country where racial segregation still had a sour normalcy only adds piquancy to the story. Theodore Melfi’s biopic Hidden Figures tells the uplifting tale of how these women helped make history. Played with great, often wry gusto by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe, the trio are plucked from numeric drudgery by a NASA systems boss (Kevin Costner) to help meet a timetable accelerated by presidential decree.
This special screening, in association with the British Society for the History of Science and Leeds Beckett University, will feature an introduction from Dr. Jessica van Horssen, Senior Lecturer in North American History (Leeds Beckett University) and Dr Amy C. Chambers, who specialises in the History of Science/Fiction in film and TV (Newcastle University).
And following the screening there will be a discussion with the audience of how history, science, race, and gender have been portrayed in the film. We know that history on film can be problematic, so let’s engage with it to see how Hidden Figures stacks up!