Hidden Figures
July 30th, 2022

Hidden Figures

Please join Cultivate Cinema Circle as we screen six films in space. Next up is Theodore Melfi’s Oscar-nominated (Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role & Best Adapted Screenplay) film Hidden Figures [2016].

Event Sponsors:

Venue Information:

Downtown Central Library Auditorium
1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo, NY 14203
(Enter from Clinton Street between Oak and Washington Streets)
716-858-8900 • www.BuffaloLib.org
COVID protocol will be followed.

TrailerSynopsisDirector BioLinks

Hidden Figures tells the incredible untold story of Katherine Jonson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) – brilliant African-American women working at NASA who served as the brains behind the launch into orbit of astronaut John Glenn, a stunning achievement that turned around the space race. The visionary trio crossed all gender and racial line and inspired generations.


  • Academy Awards – 2017 – Nominee: Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role & Best Adapted Screenplay
  • National Board of Review – 2016 – Winner: Top Ten Films & Best Ensemble
  • Writers Guild of America – 2017 – Nominee: Adapted Screenplay
  • Screen Actors Guild Awards – 2017 – Winner: Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
  • Screen Actors Guild Awards – 2017 – Nominee: Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Golden Globes (USA) – 2017 – Nominee: Best Original Score – Motion Picture & Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

“So $25 million is what Hidden Figures cost, but it looks a lot more than that; it’s just a testament to a hardworking crew and a hardworking cast that did it for the love of it, and I think that’s what movies should be done for, for the love of it, and if it’s a success, everyone will be rewarded.”

Courtesy of TCM:

Writer, producer and filmmaker Ted Melfi began his career helming over 100 commercials before branching out into short films and full-length features, eventually making his mark in Hollywood as the director of the Bill Murray-starring comedy “St. Vincent” (2014). Born in Brooklyn, NY, Melfi’s early career was dominated by commercial work for the likes of FedEx, McDonalds and Slim Fast. But having directed his wife Kimberly Quinn in “Winding Roads” (1999), a low-budget indie drama released through his own production company, Goldenlight, Melfi’s focus began to shift towards the film industry.

After serving as producer on “Ronnie” (2002), a psychological thriller about a troubled young man who strikes up a relationship with a patient at a mental institution, “Joe Killionaire” (2004), a tongue-in-cheek satire of reality TV, and “Getno” (2005), a drama about a Hungarian family’s attempt to achieve the American Dream, Melfi wrote, produced and directed his first short, “The Story of Bob” (2005), a spoof documentary about a man’s obsession with IKEA. Following production work on trashy mutant TV movie “MorphMan” (Syfy, 2007) and children’s soccer drama “Game of Life” (2007), Melfi helmed a string of further shorts including mistaken identity tale “The Beneficiary” (2008), a mockumentary about a rock/paper/scissors tournament, “Roshambo” (2010) and the story of a search for the perfect nanny, “I Want Candy” (2010). After taking on a producer’s role on romantic comedy of errors “Bed & Breakfast: Love Is A Happy Accident” (2010), Melfi added screenwriter to his list of talents when he was hired to pen a remake of the crime comedy “Going In Style” (1979) and the New York Times best-selling memoir, The Tender Bar, and also set up his own content production company, Brother, with Rich Carter.

Having impressively managed to acquire the talents of Bill Murray, as well as Naomi Watts and Melissa McCarthy, for his first major full-length feature, Melfi made Hollywood sit up and take notice with “St. Vincent” (2014), the heart-warming story of a grouchy war veteran who forms an unlikely bond with his 12-year-old next-door neighbor. Melfi followed up the indie success with a commercial breakthrough, “Hidden Figures” (2016). Starring Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monáe as mathematicians employed by NASA in the early 1960s, the fact-based drama was a box office hit that was nominated for Best Picture; Melfi and co-writer Allison Schroeder also scored a Best Adapted Screenplay nod.


  • Hidden Figures (2016)
  • St. Vincent (2014)

Here is a curated selection of links for additional insight/information:

  • Cultivate Cinema Circle info-sheet – link
  • “The top-earning Best Picture nominee of 2017 ($236 million), Hidden Figures presented three brilliant black women who just wanted to do their jobs. And they did: their expertise at a NASA field center helped send the first Americans into orbit, an extra-amazing feat since each was hobbled by segregation laws still in effect in the early ’60s. Mathematician Katherine Goble (Taraji P. Henson) had to trek a half-mile to use the bathroom at work; Dorothy Vaughan was reprimanded for conducting research in a library’s whites-only section; and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) went to court seeking enrollment in an off-limits engineering program. Rated PG, the film aimed to be widely accessible, including a love story (between Henson and her previous Curious Case of Benjamin Button co-star Mahershala Ali), friendship excursions, historical context, and countdown drama. Budgeted at just $25 million, writer-director-producer Theodore Melfi delivered the first live-action, non-franchise film in six years that featured multiple female leads and registered successive victories at the weekend box office (its predecessor: The Help). The source material was Margot Lee Shetterly’s eponymous book, optioned before publication by 20th Century Fox. Beyond acknowledging the accomplishments of this trio and their peers, and the continued need for women in STEM jobs, Hidden Figures produced perhaps the most scholarly Barbie doll to ever sell out.” — Jenna Marotta, IndieWire [2018] – link
  • Hidden Figures has a sexy title that the film downplays in favor of pure math and basic domesticity, so maybe it’s fitting to point out that the IBM 7090 was first turned on by a black woman. The progression from analog to digital provides an important subtext in Hidden Figures, also set in Virginia in the same time period as Loving. As Octavia Spencer’s Dorothy Vaughan teaches herself Fortran in the back of the bus, she also has to confront automation and figure out how to make it work for her and the other women on her staff of math geniuses, the ‘colored computers’ who do calculations for NASA as it gears up to put John Glenn into space. Theodore Melfi’s film takes the opposite tack from Nichols’s. This is an all-star feel-good movie about American ingenuity, in love with the future, stocked with hit music on the soundtrack and titles on-screen that tell us where we are. The film makes room for everyone in its cast. Taraji P. Henson, Mahershala Ali, Jim Parsons, Kirsten Dunst, and Janelle Monáe each get plenty to do, whether they are pure and good or shifty professionalized racists. Old-pro Kevin Costner chips in, desegregating the restrooms at NASA, a smaller triumph than John Glenn’s space flight but one that sped the US in the race to the moon. Hidden Figures lacks the self-seriousness and concern with special effects of recent space arias like Gravity and The Martian, proving that history and human society are more entertaining than the lives of lonely astronauts divorced from social context, who talk to themselves on another planet or float alone in space. The future in Hidden Figures is in our past, but it unrolls a blueprint to get back there.” — A. S. Hamrah, n+1 [2018] – link

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