Tag Archives: film

Isaac Asimov’s Foundation…

If you’ve spent more than a few minutes around humanism…or science fiction….or robots….you already know who Isaac Asimov is. We don’t need to tell you that.

We probably also don’t need to tell you much about the Foundation books. We do need to tell you that there’s a new TV series based on those books. The shows AppleTV website says the show is “Based on the award-winning novels by Isaac Asimov, Foundation chronicles a band of exiles on their monumental journey to save humanity and rebuild civilization amid the fall of the Galactic Empire.”

Oh…and also “Cerebral sci-fi drama has diversity and some violence.” What an interesting combination of traits that seemed necessary to advertise.

The show premiered on September 24, 2021 and appears to encompass ten episodes in the first season. How much of Asimov’s original vision and humanism will survive in this big-budget television film version? It’s very difficult to tell at this time. What we can say is the makers have an excellent (ahem) foundation to build upon.

Foundation 2021 New TV Show - 2021/2022 TV Series Premiere ...

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy ofhttps://www.mentalfloss.com/article/54343/12-predictions-isaac-asimov-made-about-2014-1964
  2. https://tv.apple.com/us/show/foundation/umc.cmc.5983fipzqbicvrve6jdfep4x3

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Film: Summertime & Tiger Tales Media

At this late date in August – have you just about browsed and dismissed just about every film available through your mainstream entertainment accounts? Bored with the usual slate of superhero movies, cops-and-murderer mysteries and documentaries that reveal little about the world and the human condition and the world we currently experience?

Well maybe the film Summertime and one of its backers, Tiger Tale Media could provide something different and worthy of your attention.

The film appears to be backed by Tiger Tales Media, whose website says, Tiger Tales Media is investing in a future for independent filmmaking grounded by rational optimism and a deep regard for the human condition. Founded as a means to facilitate and expand dialogues around humanist causes through both documentary and narrative film, Tiger Tales Media takes equity positions and awards grants that enable artists and storytellers to amplify their voices.

In addition to Summertime, Tiger Tales Media’s past projects includes several other documentaries that promise to be interesting , important and informative: The Social Dilemma is  a documentary-drama hybrid which reveals how social media is reprogramming civilization with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations; Pray Away examines Exodus International and, according to the filmmaker to “tell the truth of the “pray the gay away” movement’s enduring harm.“; The Devil We Know is a film about the...is the story of how one synthetic chemical, used to make Teflon products, contaminated a West Virginia community. But new research hints at a much broader problem: nearly all Americans are affected by exposure to non-stick chemicals in food, drinking water, and consumer products. With very little oversight on the chemical industry in this country, we invite you to learn more about the problem and how you can protect yourself and your family.

Now…about Summertime…..here’s the press release:

Good Deed Entertainment announced today that their spoken word, Rotten Tomato certified-fresh hit film SUMMERTIME, directed by Carlos López Estrada (Raya And The Last Dragon (2021), Blindspotting (2018) and Marvel’s Legion (2017)), and executive produced by Kelly Marie Tran, will be available for fans to own beginning on August 27, 2021 and can be purchased through all major retailers including, iTunes/AppleTV, Amazon, Vudu and Google Play. The film can currently be pre-ordered at iTunes and a full list of where to purchase the film can be found at the SUMMERTIME website.

The film SUMMERTIME takes place over the course of a hot summer day in Los Angeles, following the lives of 27 young adults as they intersect. A skating guitarist, a tagger, two wannabe rappers, an exasperated fast-food worker, a limo driver—they all weave in and out of each other’s stories. Through poetry they express life, love, heartache, family, home, and fear. One of them just wants to find someplace that still serves good cheeseburgers.

The film was developed over a summer workshop with the young poets, who were all part of Get Lit – Words Ignite, an LA based nonprofit that fuses classic and original spoken word poetry to increase teen literacy on the page and in visual media. All 27 poets served as co-writers and stars in the film.

As part of the film’s social impact campaign, a full one-of-a-kindcomprehensive educational curriculum has been created for schools nationwide focusing on grades 9-12+. The curriculum includes access to Get Lit’s brand-new, interactive online poetry platform Uni(verse), currently in open beta,being made available at no cost to educators, thanks to an Uproar grant from Tiger Tales Media. The curriculum is aligned with the following standards: Common Core, SEL (CASEL), English Languages Acquisition, Visual & Performing Arts (VAPA), Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and CPalms (B.E.S.T Standards)and is paired with engaging clips from the film. It is also modified to meet the needs of ELL and GATE students as well as students with special needs. 

SUMMERTIME was released in theaters nationwide beginning on July 9, 2021, and will be available to rent later this fall. 

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of
  2. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/experience-the-power-of-a-spoken-word-poetry-movie-at-home-with-the-film-summertime-from-director-carlos-lopez-estrada-available-to-own-beginning-on-august-27-301352694.html
  3. https://gooddeedentertainment.com/summertime/
  4. https://tigertalesmedia.com/
  5. https://www.thesocialdilemma.com/
  6. https://www.prayawayfilm.com/
  7. https://thedevilweknow.com/


The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Roadrunner: Anthony Bourdain and How Humanism Infuses Everything

Featured in the trailer for Roadrunner, a documentary about chef and television personality Anthony Bourdain, is a comment which argues that, “It was almost never about food…he was about totally learning to be a better person.”

Whether by design and intent or not, this singular comment provides a measured, rich and delicious metaphor for how a deeply-lived humanism infuses everything.

Human connection and humanism rarely separate us from our world. Humanism tends to deepen our care for all of the people, things and processes that surround us.

In Emily Zemler’s interview (Inside the Hurt and Humanism of Anthony Bourdain Doc ‘Roadrunner’), Morgan Neville, the film-maker says, “For somebody like Keith Richards or Iggy Pop, they’ve survived because they don’t care about anything, in a way that is enlightened. They don’t care what people say about them. They don’t care how they come off. They care about the people in their lives and, as Iggy says in the people, the people who love him. They are family people. But they have a relaxed way of being in the world. It’s carefree, which is enviable. And Tony was the opposite. He cared about everything. Every tweet. Every review. Every episode. As much as he tried to walk the walk, constitutionally he was not a Dionysian figure.

Anthony Bourdain’s suicide evokes a great sadness. But a person’s life is not entirely understood by cutting consideration of the person down to nothing more than the nature of their death. When has it been more necessary than today to understand that none of us are entirely defined by our best moments, our worst moments or even our final moments?

Morgan Neville said, “He was such an humanist, but also so fucking funny — and dark.” Considering Anthony Boudain’s humanism and considering all others via a humanist perspective opens inquiry and curiosity rather than shuttering it with a grieving-veil of emotional taboo.

In the essay Why People Loved Bourdain, Jaron Gilinski argued that “Tony stood for more than mere writing, travelling, and eating. In pursuing those three actions with gusto, perhaps to his chagrin, he became a cultural icon for the 3 ism’s of humanism, pluralism, and globalism, values held sacred to many across the planet. Anthony Bourdain had a trademark formula for human connection that is so simple, so replicable, and yet so lost in today’s world. His ingenious discovery was that when you sit down and share a meal with someone, anyone, you have a better chance of understanding them. you ask the right questions over intoxicating aromas, a real connection can be made.

Olivia Durif (Pouring One out for Anthony Bourdain) was inspired by Bourdain to write, “Eating, for Bourdain, was ultimately a humanist act. It is a good thing, he believed, to care about strangers, especially if you cannot imagine how they live their lives. It is also good to eat in many different kinds of places: at a restaurant, on the street, at the home of a friend, with a stranger.

This is a lesson of humanism. Whether one experiences life as a chef, a teacher, a corporate executive a dentist or any other occupation that you care to mention – human connection can, if you open up to it, infuse every part of that experience.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy ofhttps://www.focusfeatures.com/roadrunner
  2. https://observer.com/2021/07/anthony-bourdain-roadrunner-morgan-neville-interview/
  3. https://jarongilinsky.medium.com/why-people-loved-bourdain-d152d22c5954
  4. https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/pouring-one-anthony-bourdain/#!


The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Human: The Movie

Upon occasion, a work of art catches our full attention when we least expect it. Maybe that work of art is a magnificent garden, cultivated over decades by a single family with a harmonious vision and discovered down that one street you kept meaning to walk along. Maybe it’s a piece of music that gets into your head and heart so completely from the first time you heard it that it no longer seems to be separate. Or maybe it’s some other bit of human skill and design – some exquisite sculpture, poem, painting, building, guitar, novel, or what have you that stops everything else and occupies you fully.

Human: The Movie is that kind of experience.

The Director’s cut version that I’ve linked from Youtube says in the description box:

What is it that makes us human? Is it that we love, that we fight ? That we laugh ? Cry ? Our curiosity ? The quest for discovery ? Driven by these questions, filmmaker and artist Yann Arthus-Bertrand spent three years collecting real-life stories from 2,000 women and men in 60 countries. Working with a dedicated team of translators, journalists and cameramen, Yann captures deeply personal and emotional accounts of topics that unite us all; struggles with poverty, war, homophobia, and the future of our planet mixed with moments of love and happiness. The VOL.1 deals with the themes of love, women, work and poverty. In order to share this unique image bank everywhere and for everyone, HUMAN exist in several versions : A theatrical version (3h11), a TV version (2h11) and a 3 volumes version for the web

The film appears to have been funded by two foundations The Bettencourt Schueller Foundation whose website says that “from its earliest days, the Foundation’s action has been driven by one unwavering principle: contributing to the common good. Acting with complete freedom while remaining true to this principle, the Foundation focuses on three areas of commitment: life sciences, the arts and inclusive society” and The GoodPlanet Foundation which is an extension of Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s artistic work and environmental commitment. GoodPlanet aims to make ecology and humanism a central issue in order to encourage people to take concrete action for the Earth and its inhabitants. The GoodPlanet Foundation takes action in three main areas: environmental and solidarity field projects, educating people on sustainable development and helping companies and people develop an environmentally responsible approach.

What is the next wave of humanism? In our earlier examination, we argued that  “contemporary humanists of the twenty-first century are concerned with applied humanism – the many ways that humanism is used for solving problems. The New Humanist says, ‘I am Extreme; I am Radical; I am Hardcore. I am Humanist.‘”….and it seems that the contemporary humanists are also saying “I am connected to my world. I care.”

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of: http://www.human-themovie.org/
  2. https://www.fondationbs.org/en
  3. https://www.goodplanet.org/en/

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Film Premiere: 8 Billion Angels

8 Billion Angels World Premiere
April 20, 2021 8PM EST/5PM PST

Celebrate Earth Day Week
By joining the world premiere of
8 BILLION ANGELS
with celebrity naturalist Chris Packham, hosting a conversation after the screening with expert panelists including 8 Billion Angels Producer Terry Spahr.

Click HERE for more event information


The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

‘Jiang Ziya’ and the Unbearable Lightness of Bourgeois Humanism

In our search for interesting, challenging and critical perspectives on contemporary humanism, we occasionally find articles published in other venues that we think humanistfreedoms.com readers may enjoy. The following article was published on Sixth Tone and is republished with the author’s permission.


‘Jiang Ziya’ and the Unbearable Lightness of Bourgeois Humanism

The real-life Jiang Ziya was a bold strategist who overthrew a tyrant. His cinematic counterpart mostly mopes — and audiences seem to like it that way.

By: Wu Changchang

Last month, Beijing Enlight Pictures premiered the second film in its traditional mythology-themed “Investiture of the Gods” cinematic universe: “Jiang Ziya: Legend of Deification.” And following in the footsteps of last year’s box office hit “Ne Zha,” which transformed its source story from a critique of feudalism into a family-friendly tale of childhood rebellion and acceptance, Enlight also gave the eponymous hero of “Jiang Ziya” a modern gloss.

The historical Jiang Ziya was a founding father of the Zhou dynasty (1046 B.C.-256 B.C.). One of the country’s earliest master strategists, he rose up in revolt against the brutal last despot of the Shang dynasty. Of course, these details have long since been overtaken in the popular imagination by more fantastic portrayals, and the Jiang Ziya most Chinese audiences would be familiar with is more mythic than real. In the classic Ming dynasty (1368-1644) novel “The Legend of Deification,” Jiang Ziya is depicted as a disciple of the Taoist deity Yuanshi Tianzun who leads the rebellious Zhou army to victory.

But the cinematic “Jiang Ziya” goes in a different direction, rewriting the military genius as a maudlin intellectual beset by the cliché humanist ethical problem of how to balance the needs of the individual and the people. The whole film is colored by his confusion and disillusionment, a portrait of the revolutionary politician as an emo young man.

As a scholar of cultural studies, I can’t help but be curious if the film’s production team really believes the only way to make an appealing movie these days is to “humanize” any hero — no matter how mythic, epic, or larger-than-life they are — by weighing them down with mundane concerns.

Then again, if the studiously “humanist” tone of the first two films in the “Investiture” universe are any indication, they probably do.

Zhou Xiaohong, a professor of sociology at Nanjing University, once famously observed that China’s emerging middle class puts consumption first and politics last. But while the first bit is likely true, I can’t agree with the second. Since the 1980s, China’s resurgent petit bourgeoisie have broken with the nation’s revolutionary politics in favor of a return to humanism — the centering of individuality and humanity in place of the Marxist focus on social relations. But how exactly is that apolitical? If anything, it’s the essence of bourgeois politics.

Humanism as a winning pop culture product is a relatively recent phenomenon within the People’s Republic of China. Early on, the country’s authorities took it for granted that the political positions of petit bourgeois intellectuals — distinct in this framework from those in the “middle class” — are obviously dubious and not to be trusted. Although technically grouped with the revolutionary masses, they were locked out of power and resided at the bottom of the so-called chain of contempt. In the words of Mao Zedong: “In the deepest reaches of their souls still reigns an empire of petty bourgeois intellectuals.”

As such, petit bourgeois political stances needed periodic testing and “rectification,” and the only depictions of the petty bourgeoisie compatible with socialist literature and art were those of revolutionaries who have resolved the contradictions of their identity in order to affirm their alliance with the proletariat — or the background figures needed to contrast against more heroic workers, peasants, and soldiers.

After the advent of “reform and opening-up” in the early 1980s, however, humanism became a cultural phenomenon. Following the bloody chaos of the Cultural Revolution, a new movement — in which human nature was used as a means of finding closure and rewriting history — gradually formed in Chinese literary and artistic circles, and petit bourgeois culture revived.

That trend continued into the new millennium, as the social status and financial power of China’s petit bourgeoisie grew. Once relegated to the depths of society, today they’ve reclaimed their perch atop China’s chain of contempt, acting as judges of good taste and looking down upon the backward views and lifestyles of rural China.

A promotional image for the film “Jiang Ziya,” featuring Jiang, Ne Zha, and other characters from the “Investiture of the Gods” cinematic universe in their boy band personas. From @电影姜子牙 on Weibo

A promotional image for the film “Jiang Ziya,” featuring Jiang, Ne Zha, and other characters from the “Investiture of the Gods” cinematic universe in their boy band personas. From @电影姜子牙 on Weibo

Pop culture production has shifted in response. During the so-called golden age of Chinese TV from 2005 to 2014, the petit bourgeoisie was the demographic over which all the major TV stations competed. They propelled Dragon TV to the ranks of China’s top stations, and even younger-skewing Hunan Satellite TV has sought to rebrand itself as highbrow in the hopes of courting a more affluent viewership.

The resulting cultural hegemony of humanism carries a whiff of revisionism, however — one that brooks little dissent. In the mid-1980s, scholars sought to place humanism in a broader context, inclusive of concepts like social relations and alienation. Today, such discussions are practically invisible, as humanism has been lifted to the status of universal value or absolute truth, one that automatically takes precedence over historical and national issues.

This shift is reflected throughout popular culture, from films like 2009’s Japanese soldier-centered tale of the Nanjing Massacre “City of Life and Death” to the reemergence of that great chronicler of Chinese petit bourgeoisie, Eileen Chang. Even a recent adaptation of the classic fantasy novel “Journey to the West” took pains to clarify that the white bone spirits’ violence toward humans was actually justified, as they had once been hurt by humans themselves.

Underlying all these works is a fear of collective violence. They emphasize individual freedom above all else and defend the right of their heroes to retreat from political and public life. Put another way, they advocate the right to remain ambivalent: to not commit to a stance or a collective cause. Any arguments calling this logic into question — such as pointing out that the historical Jiang Ziya went to war to overthrow a tyrant — are denounced as “anti-humanistic”.

Idyllic farmsteads, niche subcultures, consumption — these are the cultural fixations of contemporary China’s petit bourgeoisie, and fixtures of the cultural products they withdraw into.

In part, that’s because they give the petit bourgeoisie ample opportunity to showcase their elegant taste and lofty disposition. This summer, for example, petit bourgeois viewers of iQiyi reality show “The Big Band” briefly made the gritty musical act Wu Tiao Ren pop culture icons. A rock-and-roll group, Wu Tiao Ren seem tailor-made to bourgeois affectation: They sing in the dialect of Shanwei City and have the down-to-earth aura of kids from a small town, but their lead singer still finds ways to read Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek in his spare time.

In turn, the band’s petit bourgeois fans use the group to show off their own cultural sophistication by dissecting and discussing their songs on online forums. Or as one commenter put it in a review of their song “The Globe”: “(It) projects magnificent imagery onto such a small scene as a way of seeking meaning in this world. It uses the scene as a means of invoking a state somewhere between transcendence and madness.”

For all their talk of humanism, China’s petit bourgeoisie view the world and examine the human condition from a position they consider superior to most of humanity. In the process, they scour folk tales and songs alike of their revolutionary connotations, replacing what they take out with their own values. The anti-Confucian iconoclast Ne Zha becomes a bratty son, the warlord Jiang Ziya a mopey man of letters, and I can’t help but ask: Just who exactly is being anti-humanistic here?

Translator: Lewis Wright; editors: Wu Haiyun and Kilian O’Donnell.

(Header image: A promotional image for the film “Jiang Ziya.” From Douban)


Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of https://www.wellgousa.com/sites/default/files/styles/hero_image/public/2020-01/812×1200-v1.jpg?itok=PTJ82POp
  2. http://www.sixthtone.com
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiang_Ziya

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Film: About Endlessness

Roy Andersson’s About Endlessness was released late in 2019 as a “reflection on human life in all its beauty and cruelty, its splendour and banality.

On the film’s website, Andersson provides several key insights regarding the film and his approach as a film-maker. They are the kinds of insights which have the capacity to alter the viewer’s perspective from bewilderment to informed engagement.

Rhetorically, we ask ourselves “Could there be a more advantageous way to approach the topic of “endlessness” than with informed engagement?” Perhaps. But we aren’t going to delve “plot” in this post as that might just be counter-to-the-concept. The film is ABOUT ENDLESSNESS after all.

Andersson shares that he had given up a “realistic/naturalistic aesthetic” in the mid-1980s, feeling that there was nowhere to go. It was, so to speak, at an end for him. He turned instead to an abstract approach which “has enabled me to tell stories about us and about our time in spectacularly anachronistic scenes.

As it may be far easier to relate to Andersson’s comments while viewing some of his work, Film Qualia‘s video essay titled “The Living Paintings of Roy Anderson” is an excellent resource and underlines our thought that informed engagement may just be best.

Film Qualia’s Video Essay on “The Living Paintings of Roy Anderson”

On the matter of his style, Andresson suggests that he wants “to continue to develop a cinematic language that is pared-down, simplified, refined, distilled, or however you choose to describe it. That’s what I mean by the expression abstraction. I strive to achieve that refinement, that simplification that is characteristic of our memories or our dreams.”

Andersson cites two cultural icons as central to the creation and development of About Endlessness: the horn of plenty from Greek mythology and the narrator of Thousand and One Nights, Scheherazade.

The horn of plenty is invoked for its “embodiment of inexhaustibility”. It is literally a symbol for endlessness. Andersson “art, art history plays the role of a horn of plenty, encompassing within it the entire scope of what it means to be human.”

Invoking Scheherazade, a character under near-constant threat of death, is, literally, a far more complex undertaking. There’s no shortage of context for a living symbol of those in society who may be fairly termed terminally vulnerable.

Andersson explains a perspective as filmmaker that, “Scheherazade managed to postpone her own execution for a thousand and one days, by which time the King had started to grow fond of her and wanted to stay married to her. My hope and ambition in this project, is for the scenes to be so interesting and fascinating that people will want to see more of them as soon as they’ve seen one, and that they will never want them to stop.

In short, we should feel like King Shahryar when he hears something through Scheherazade that seems inexhaustible, namely human existence, everything that it means to be human. The scenes in this film will naturally be fascinating in and of themselves, but it is the scope of the composition of the scenes that will generate the impression of being inexhaustible.


Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of https://www.royandersson.com/eng/endlessness/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/About_Endlessness
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/nov/08/about-endlessness-review-roy-andersson
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/nov/05/about-endlessness-review-roy-andersson
  5. https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/film/about-endlessness-a-droll-form-of-despair-1.4399995
  6. https://lwlies.com/reviews/about-endlessness/

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Film: My Father And The Man In Black

We recently received email messages headed with a question that is both intriguing and a bit dodgy. “Would you walk away from a million dollars to preserve your integrity?

What’s all this about then….

Well, filmmaker Jonathan Holiff, “whose award-winning 2013 documentary, My Father and The Man In Black, chronicles the unlikely, rocky relationship between the legendary Johnny Cash and his longtime manager, Saul Holiff” has recently released a 55-minute video version of Zoom Talk on the topic of Managing Johnny Cash as a Jewish Atheist.

According to the information we’ve found, “Following his father’s suicide, Jonathan discovered hundreds of letters, audio diaries and recorded phone calls with Johnny Cash during his pill-fuelled 1960s, triumphs at Folsom and San Quentin, marriage to June Carter, and when he became an evangelical Christian. In the early 1970s, at the height of the singer’s career, Johnny Cash was “born again.” The drama that followed between the country star and his manager, born out of concern for Cash’s career, saw faith and reason collide. When one man finds a new calling, the other has to choose between his job and his self-respect.

The talk was hosted by the Jewish Community Centre of Victoria. You can catch up on Jonathan Holiff’s website.

Watch the Movie Trailer below:

At the time this article is published, you can also buy or rent the full movie through Youtube.

Money versus morals. It’s not exactly a foreign question to those who have questioned matters of religion or faith. Would you walk away from a million dollars to preserve your integrity? We think it happens all the time…..


Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of http://jonathanholiff.com/speaking/

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Film: Immortality or Bust

The website for Immortality or Bust boldly asks, “Do you want to live forever and become a cyborg?” If your answer to that question sits somewhere in the green-to-orange section of our ever-accurate approval rating system (shown below), then maybe you’re interested in transhumanism.

Should Your Company Take the When Work Works Workflex ...
Photo credit: istockphoto.com

In the 2016 US Presidential election, Zoltan Istvan embarked on an impossible expedition to defeat aging and forever change the human being through science. Running for President as the Transhumanist Party nominee, Zoltan Istvan took his message to bio hacking labs, cryopreservation facilities, transhumanist churches, and ultimately, Washington DC.

Winner of the BREAKOUT AWARD at the 2019 Raw Science Film Festival, Immortality or Bust follows Zoltan on his improbable journey to its final, and revealing conclusion.

Immortality or Bust Trailer

According to the Immortality or Bust website, you can catch the film via a variety of online services beginning June 23, 2020. Meanwhile, Istvan’s political movement has moved-on to a new candidate.

The U.S. Transhumanist Party endorsed Charlie Kam to run for the office of President of the United States in the 2020 General Election. Mr. Kam was the USTP’s endorsed Vice-Presidential candidate from October 5, 2019, through June 11, 2020. By the rules of succession, and as confirmed by the USTP Officers, Mr. Kam has been endorsed to carry the USTP Presidential ticket forward for the remainder of the 2020 election season.

A Bit of History

According to research by Peter Harrison and Joseph Wolniak that

William Douw Lighthall . - [19-] - Archives de Montréal

appeared in Notes and Queries (2015) , the term “transhumanism” was first used in 1940 by William Douw Lighthall, a Canadian philosopher. Lighthall published a paper entitled “The Law of Cosmic Evolutionary Adaptation: An Interpretation of Recent Thought” in a journal called Proceedings and Transactions.  In it, Lighthall advances a view of cosmic, biological, and cultural evolution, a view he called “transhumanism.” Between his birth in 1857 and his death in 1954, Lighthall was a lawyer, poet, politician, novelist, historian, spouse and parent.

A Bit of Fun

Film: Selvmordsturisten

In 1795, William Wordsworth met Samuel Taylor Coleridge. By 1798, the two poets produced Lyrical Ballads, a collection of poetry predicated on private between the two whether Wordsworth’s humanist and naturalist poetry would be received by the poetry-reading public as readily as Coleridge’s fantastic, super-naturalist work. It turned out that Wordsworth’s poetry was the more popular.

How does the poetical work of two eighteenth-century British poets relate to a Scandinavian dramatic film about euthanasia? Well, after mostly losing the bet of realism over fantasy, Coleridge eventually wrote his Biographica Literaria (1817) wherein he advocated that consumers of the arts should actively suppress their critical-thinking skills. He called it “suspension of disbelief”.

Coleridge was not the first to promote this concept, but his phrasing of it is extremely helpful when approaching Exit Plan. Suspending our disbelief allows us to approach things that are exaggerated, sensationalized, distorted or otherwise outside of actuality. Applied appropriately, Coleridge’s “suspension of disbelief” is a tool to understand the difference between documentary film and theatrical/popular film. Our global entertainment industries are founded upon “suspension of disbelief”. Documentary, on the other hand is oriented to engaging our critical thinking – even manipulating it – but not in disengaging it.

Exit Plan deals with subject matter of euthanasia – but it is founded upon “suspension of disbelief.” We must treat it appropriately.

Once we set aside our critical thinking…we are into fantasy-land. Anything is possible in fantasy-land. What is not real is temporarily accepted as real for the sake of the story. In this case, an insurance claims investigator, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, chases down a mysterious death at a secretive hotel specializing in assisted suicide. Oooh….a dark drama exploring a taboo subject.

Controversial topic? Check. Name-brand actor? Check. Great title? Un-check.

The decision to go with “Exit Plan” as the English language title is questionable. The film’s Danish title, “Selvmordsturisten” indubitably has direct translations that would establish a more appropriately macabre and sinister veneer. Oooh. Dark drama.

If you’re thinking of spending 85 disbelief-suspended-minutes ooohing, aaahing and angsting over a dark drama, Exit Plan offers a story and some quite good videography.

Is setting aside one’s critical thinking skills particularly helpful in exploring a topic like euthanasia? Perhaps and perhaps not. Fiction, whether print, stage or film does let us approach difficult topics knowing that they aren’t real…and knowing the consequences of the fictions also aren’t real. Perhaps, if we are adequately reflective, we can consider our reactions to a film like Selvmordsturisten to recognize our biases when it comes to reality. Did we find it insulting? Boring? Challenging? Moving? Aggravating? Exciting?

An entertainment film like Exit Plan/Selvmordsturisten should give opportunities to reflect on our biases. But it should also drive us back to reality – get back to a humanist and naturalist position to explore difficult issues through facts and reality. We have to set aside the wild imaginings of “death tourism” and explore real issues of assisted death.

A few good places to start include:

  1. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Absolutely Canadian Season 18, Episode 23 Exit Interview: John Hofsess
  2. Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die
  3. PBS’ Frontline: The Suicide Plan

Equally valuable to establishing an understanding of the complex realities of assisted death is to engage the multi-disciplinary professionals and organizations that have expertise in the area. A few examples:

Pegasos Swiss Association is a voluntary assisted dying association that was created in 2019 . Based in Basel, Switzerland, the Pegasos team of professionals offers an assisted dying service to approved adults of sound mind, regardless of their country of origin/ residence. Pegasos enables a person to receive a peaceful, dignified and caring assisted death

The Pegasos website states that the organization was founded following the landmark death of 104-year old Australian ecologist Professor David Goodall.

Image Courtesy of Pegasos Swiss Association

Professor Goodall was not sick. At 104 years of age, he simply said he had had enough and now was the time to go. His eyesight was failing, his mobility was going. Most importantly, he could not do the fieldwork that had sustained and driven him all his life.

The death of Professor Goodall raised important issues for the right to die movement in general, and for the individuals who would become the founding professionals at Pegasos.

Firstly, it showed that a person’s desire for a dignified and peaceful assisted death is not solely dependent on terminal illness. Old age and a failing quality of life can also play a role.

Secondly, David Goodall’s experience showed that the Swiss law on assisted suicide is well placed to serve the needs of people who may not fit the traditional criteria used in other places in the world where assisted suicide is legal.