Tag Archives: film

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.

Film: I, Pastafari

The film begins in January 2016, when The Netherlands granted official recognition that the Kerk van het Vliegend Spaghettimonster as a religion. With this recognition, Mienke, Sam, Mathé, Dirk Jan, and other members of the church, begin their mission to get access to the same rights Dutch law affords other recognized religions, starting with the right to wear religious headwear in their driver’s license photos.

Michael Arthur – Director/Producer

Michael Arthur holds a business degree from a prestigious American public university, which sits and collects dust in his mom’s basement. He is very much an accidental filmmaker. In 2011, while working in a cubicle somewhere in Portland Oregon, Mike took a filmmaking night class to balance out the monotony of corporate retail. The documentary that resulted went from a YouTube short to a full-length feature which then aired on national TV in 2013. The experience ruined his cubicle aspirations.

Director’s Statement

“Progressives vs. Conservatives. Globalism vs. Nationalism. The Religious Right vs. The Liberal Elite. We find ourselves today in the midst of a war on multiple fronts. While they may appear to be separate conflicts, they all share a common core. In this way, it is only one war: fact vs. belief. To end it, we simply need to align on what a ‘fact’ actually is.

How then do we decide, which claims to accept as fact? Do they exist in an old book? Are they the claims given to you by the powerful, those who deem to benefit the most from the ‘facts’ they provide? Or, perhaps, is it those claims based on overwhelming observable evidence?

Since the Enlightenment, science has consistently proven the best tool to propel society forward. Despite how far science has brought us, recently, we seem to be regressing. The amount of people that have been convinced science is just another system of belief has gotten too big to ignore. All is not lost. The antidote to alternative facts and fake news is science.

When we all share a common definition for ‘fact’, there is no reason to doubt vaccines prevent disease, or that human activity impacts climate, or that murdering infidels may not grant you free admission to paradise. Only when we once again share a common basis for fact, can we stop arguing and start debating realistic solutions on how to fix the woes of the world.

The key to ending this war is to break through to the most vulnerable in our society. Those who do not have access to a quality education. Those who cannot afford to travel and experience cultures and ways of life unlike their own. Those that are convinced that all the answers they need are in whatever holy book their parents read to them. These are the ones who are the most susceptible to the false promises of the powerful. Instead of preaching the gospel of science from the pulpit, to reach them we need to try a different approach. This is the audacious hope of I, Pastafari. In a time of flat-earthers, anti-vaxxers, fake news, and alternative facts, the Pastafarians may be the savior the world has been waiting for.”

Visit the I, Pastafari website.

Visit the Journeyman Pictures website.

FILM: Planet of the Humans

NEW YORK (Tuesday, April 21, 2020) – Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Michael Moore announced today that he is releasing a brand new documentary film on his RUMBLE Media label – and is offering it as a gift, free of charge, in the midst of the global pandemic.

On Tuesday, April 21st, beginning at 9:00 am EDT, Planet of the Humans, directed by filmmaker and environmentalist Jeff Gibbs, will make its world premiere on Michael Moore’s YouTube channel at YouTube.com/MMFlint (direct link to the full film on Moore’s page). Moore is scheduled to be the main guest on CBS’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday night to make his first appearance for the film.

There will be a live event Wednesday evening, April 22nd at 10:00 pm EDT / 7:00 pm PDT featuring a live discussion and Q&A with Moore & Gibbs and viewers from around the world across YouTubeFacebookInstagram Live and Twitter.

Released on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and in the midst of the global Covid-19 pandemic, Planet of the Humans takes a harsh look at how the environmental movement has lost the battle through well-meaning but disastrous choices, including the belief that solar panels and windmills would save us, and by giving in to the corporate interests of Wall Street.

The film is the debut movie from Jeff Gibbs, whom Moore calls “a brave and brilliant filmmaker whose new voice must be heard.” Gibbs is a lifelong environmentalist and longtime collaborator of Moore’s with whom he co-produced Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11. Planet of the Humans first screened as a work in progress at the most recent Traverse City Film Festival where it was a huge audience favorite.

Moore and Gibbs decided that with the American public – and much of the world – confined to their homes and suddenly having to consider the role humans and their behavior have played in our fragile ecosystems, the moment was too urgent to wait until later this year for the film’s planned release.

“We have ignored the warnings, and instead all sorts of so-called leaders have steered us away from the real solutions that might save us,” says Moore, who holds the all-time box office record for documentaries. “This movie takes no prisoners and exposes the truth about how we have been led astray in the fight to save the planet, to the point where if we don’t reverse course right now, events like the current pandemic will become numerous, devastating and insurmountable. The feel-good experience of this movie is that we actually have the smarts and the will to not let this happen – but only if we immediately launch a new environmental uprising.”

Jeff Gibbs, the writer/editor/director of Planet of the Humans, has dared to say what no one will – that “we are losing the battle to stop climate change because we are following environmental leaders, many of whom are well-intentioned, but who’ve sold out the green movement to wealthy interests and corporate America.” This film is the wake-up call to the reality which we are afraid to face: that in the midst of a human-caused extinction event, the so-called “environmental movement’s” answer is to push for techno-fixes and band-aids. “It’s too little, too late,” says Gibbs. “Removed from the debate is the only thing that might save us: getting a grip on our out-of-control human presence and consumption. Why is this not the issue? Because that would be bad for profits, bad for business.”

“Have we environmentalists fallen for illusions, ‘green’ illusions, that are anything but green, because we’re scared that this is the end — and we’ve pinned all our hopes on things like solar panels and wind turbines? No amount of batteries are going to save us, and that is the urgent warning of this film.”

This compelling, must-see movie – a full-frontal assault on our sacred cows – is guaranteed to generate anger, debate, and, hopefully, a willingness to see our survival in a new way—before it’s too late.

Planet of the Humans, which will be available for free on YouTube for the next 30 days,becomes the first documentary project to be released under the Rumble Media banner, and represents Rumble’s first venture with YouTube. Rumble Media launched in December of 2019 with the podcast, “RUMBLE with Michael Moore.” The podcast has now amassed more than 9 million downloads in its first four months.

More information about the film is available at www.planetofthehumans.com.