Space-opera film Symmetry is shot inside CERN, the largest particle physics facility in the world. With the cathedral-like majesty of the Large Hadron Collider as his theatre, a modern physicist searches for the smallest primordial particle and discovers a love without end…

If Neil deGrasse Tyson’s version of ‘Cosmos’ hasn’t convinced you of the beautiful drama hidden within the scientific community, perhaps this dance opera will twist your arm in the right direction.
The Huffington Post

Watch the full film (in 8 languages):


the cosmos revealed to a scientist while dancing

SYMMETRY (0’29) is a cross-disciplinary film illustrating, through opera, dance, digital art and science, a journey into the unknown. Shot on location in Switzerland at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, the film follows a physicist, played by choreographer Lukas Timulak, as he grapples with the theory of everything and seeks to unlock the very building blocks of existence. Discoveries unfold as a dance between imagination and reason. Captivated by the music of soprano Claron McFadden, Lukas’ reality begins to blur. Ruben van Leer utilises an interplay of disciplines to transform the backdrop of CERN’s Hadron Collider, the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator, to that of Lukas’ inner world.

The complementary documentary SYMMETRY UNRAVELLED (0’24) provides context to the creative synergy sparked at the collision of arts and science when making this project. Featuring physicist e.g. Robbert Dijkgraaf, John Ellis and several participating artists. Each voice offers a different insight what drives people to explore the unknown.

Symmetry expresses the two sides of our understanding, one rational, the other emotional, and sets the opera in CERN and a Bolivian salt flat to contrast the human-made machines with the vastness of nature.

digital art can bridge different dimensions

“Modern science has no unifying concept of how to connect Einstein’s theory of relativity with the theory of quantum mechanics. This basically means we can’t measure the true relationships between planets, human bodies and it’s atoms and quarks. We digitally captured the spatial information of a dance scene in which ‘the big bang’ was portrayed, and combined this data with numerical patterns from the open source CERN data. A new image appeared in front of our eyes which looked quite similar to the spiral forming of our Milkyway galaxy. In the film story we used this image sequence for the moment protagonist Lukas comes to the realisation of his theory of everything, while dancing…”. –RVL

Symmetry, an upcoming film that fuses opera, choreography, digital art, and physics to tell a deeply existential tale around the basic questions asked by all curious humans: who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going?

uniting art & science audiences world wide

The Symmetry film has been presented on film festivals, TV channels and special event debates internationally. Reaching an audience estimate of 2,5 million people and counting. European TV broadcaster NTR counted 100k views on opening evening, making Symmetry’s reach double the views of comparable cultural programming. During cinema release (at the Amsterdam EYE Film Museum) New Scientist magazine focussed on the Symmetry project with a back cover print campaign and their special CERN event, bringing together different art and science audiences around the world. The film got invited to the University of Hong Kong and the University of Science and Technology of China, initiating multiple events revolving around the project. Director Ruben Van Leer spoke at the prestigious Evening of Science and Society in the Ridderzaal of The Hague for the cultural minister and over 200 scientists present and got invited to follow up the conversation in San Francisco and around Europe with e.g. physics professors Fritjof Capra (Berkeley, California), Robbert Dijkgraaf (director AIS, Princeton) and Calin Alexa (National Institute of Physics, Romania).



writer & director: Ruben Van Leer
cinematography: Paul Ozgur
starring: Claron McFadden & Lukas Timulak
dancers: Joeri Dubbe, Celia Amade, Casar Faria Fernandes & Shirley Esseboom
music: Joep Franssens & Henry Vega
libretto: Stan Lapinski
dramaturgy: Martin Butler
editing: Amber Hooijmans
visual effects: Tom Geraedts & David Zaagsma
compositing: Bart Van Brussel & Ruben Van Leer
point clouds: Mickey van Olst, Christian Loclair & Cedric Kiefer (OnFormative)
data processing: Jurrien Steenkamp & Frederik Vanhoutte
art direction: Barnaby Monk (Herbert Luciole) & Judith Veenendaal
costume design: Anne De Grijff
line-producers: Pavel Ananich & Inge Zoete
producers: Sander Verdonk, Denis Wigman & Ruben Van Leer
produced by: CTM Pictures, NTR &
documentary by: Juliette Stevens, Moving Portraits
with support of: NL Filmfonds, Fonds 21, Creative Industries Fund & NTR
partners: Arts@CERN, Zoller+Fröhlich & Microsoft

filmmaker & media-artist