Feb 18, 2020
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Years-in-the-making doc ‘Surviving Progress’ examines future of civilization

TORONTO - Quebec filmmaker Mathieu Roy has spent six years on “Surviving Progress,” a sprawling documentary co-directed by Harold Crooks that spans economics, history, the environment and the very future of civilization itself.

And over that painstaking production period, Roy has grown sick of hearing one specific response to the film’s subject matter from friends and peers.

“So many people during the editing process were like: ‘Your film’s so depressing,'” Roy recalled in an interview before the movie’s premiere at September’s Toronto International Film Festival.

“It’s like, the world is … depressing too, you know? We live in that world. We can’t just make it pretty and pink-y. I thought it was important to showcase that information in a raw way, that that’s the state of things right now. And even though our distributor and some of our producers were like, ‘it’s too dark,’ we insisted.”

Inspired by Ronald Wright’s “A Short History of Progress,” the globe-trotting doc – which opens in Canadian theatres on Friday – explores the idea of “progress traps,” or innovations that might actually cause more problems than they solve.

The film – which Crooks calls a “cinematic requiem to progress as usual” – details how unsustainable economic and environmental policies could throw the planet into peril. By interweaving historical anecdotes with modern-day evidence from all over the world, the film probes how the global civilization could be threatened by over-consumption.

Their journey brought them through exotic locales, including a Chinese car-driving club and an agricultural town in Brazil that they were later told was the country’s murder capital, and they landed interviews featuring the lofty likes of Margaret Atwood, Jane Goodall, Stephen Hawking and David Suzuki.

An intimidating crew of heavyweight intellectuals, to be sure, but Crooks – who grew up in Ottawa and Montreal and now lives in New York – said the interviewee to really make him nervous was biologist Craig Venter, one of the first people to sequence the human genome.

“Craig Venter is one of the most renowned biologists alive today,” said Crooks, who directed the 2003 documentary “The Corporation.” “I had never even taken a course in biology in my life. That was a wild ride.”

But one of the biggest names attached to the movie was kept off-screen: legendary director Martin Scorsese, who executive produced the film.

The story behind his involvement is rather unlikely. Roy worked as Scorsese’s personal assistant on the Montreal set of his 2004 film “The Aviator,” and Roy – then an aspiring filmmaker who had studied at the New York Film Academy – made sure to soak up every detail he could.

“I was always right next to him, right next to Leonardo DiCaprio, I had the privilege of learning from the master every day,” Roy said. “I was bombarding him with questions. I think he liked me, he recognized my passion in cinema, and the relationship survived the project, and we’ve been very close ever since.”

Over the years as Roy worked to adapt Wright’s book, he approached Scorsese – whom he affectionately calls an “encyclopedia” – for advice. Scorsese read the book and offered to lend his time – and name – to the project, in the hopes it would help “Surviving Progress” get made.

Now that the film is finally ready for theatres, Roy admits he’s not sure about its commercial prospects.

“We want to reach out to as many people as possible, but at the same time, while editing, we started to realize that (the film) wasn’t going to be for everybody,” Roy said.

“But I think it’s not a bad thing to be challenged when you watch a film… It forces you to make connections in your mind, and to think about the world we live in, to think about your bank account, to think about your kids’ future, to think about so many things. And in that way, I’m very proud.”

Crooks, meanwhile, is a bit more optimistic. After the recent success of the Occupy movement, the public might be more willing to listen to plain truths about the world’s problems.

“It might have been more of a challenge if we made the film four years ago, before the current financial crisis, but I think people are beginning to understand the interconnectivity between Wall Street’s short-term thinking and civil wars in the Amazon and genocide in the Congo and the exponential debt problem and widening global poverty,” he said.

“I think this will not come as total news to people. And I hope that it will find a very large audience, not only at home but around the world.”

Source: The Canadian Press

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Headline, Industry News

Years-in-the-making doc ‘Surviving Progress’ examines future of civilization

TORONTO - Quebec filmmaker Mathieu Roy has spent six years on “Surviving Progress,” a sprawling documentary co-directed by Harold Crooks that spans economics, history, the environment and the very future of civilization itself.

And over that painstaking production period, Roy has grown sick of hearing one specific response to the film’s subject matter from friends and peers.

“So many people during the editing process were like: ‘Your film’s so depressing,'” Roy recalled in an interview before the movie’s premiere at September’s Toronto International Film Festival.

“It’s like, the world is … depressing too, you know? We live in that world. We can’t just make it pretty and pink-y. I thought it was important to showcase that information in a raw way, that that’s the state of things right now. And even though our distributor and some of our producers were like, ‘it’s too dark,’ we insisted.”

Inspired by Ronald Wright’s “A Short History of Progress,” the globe-trotting doc – which opens in Canadian theatres on Friday – explores the idea of “progress traps,” or innovations that might actually cause more problems than they solve.

The film – which Crooks calls a “cinematic requiem to progress as usual” – details how unsustainable economic and environmental policies could throw the planet into peril. By interweaving historical anecdotes with modern-day evidence from all over the world, the film probes how the global civilization could be threatened by over-consumption.

Their journey brought them through exotic locales, including a Chinese car-driving club and an agricultural town in Brazil that they were later told was the country’s murder capital, and they landed interviews featuring the lofty likes of Margaret Atwood, Jane Goodall, Stephen Hawking and David Suzuki.

An intimidating crew of heavyweight intellectuals, to be sure, but Crooks – who grew up in Ottawa and Montreal and now lives in New York – said the interviewee to really make him nervous was biologist Craig Venter, one of the first people to sequence the human genome.

“Craig Venter is one of the most renowned biologists alive today,” said Crooks, who directed the 2003 documentary “The Corporation.” “I had never even taken a course in biology in my life. That was a wild ride.”

But one of the biggest names attached to the movie was kept off-screen: legendary director Martin Scorsese, who executive produced the film.

The story behind his involvement is rather unlikely. Roy worked as Scorsese’s personal assistant on the Montreal set of his 2004 film “The Aviator,” and Roy – then an aspiring filmmaker who had studied at the New York Film Academy – made sure to soak up every detail he could.

“I was always right next to him, right next to Leonardo DiCaprio, I had the privilege of learning from the master every day,” Roy said. “I was bombarding him with questions. I think he liked me, he recognized my passion in cinema, and the relationship survived the project, and we’ve been very close ever since.”

Over the years as Roy worked to adapt Wright’s book, he approached Scorsese – whom he affectionately calls an “encyclopedia” – for advice. Scorsese read the book and offered to lend his time – and name – to the project, in the hopes it would help “Surviving Progress” get made.

Now that the film is finally ready for theatres, Roy admits he’s not sure about its commercial prospects.

“We want to reach out to as many people as possible, but at the same time, while editing, we started to realize that (the film) wasn’t going to be for everybody,” Roy said.

“But I think it’s not a bad thing to be challenged when you watch a film… It forces you to make connections in your mind, and to think about the world we live in, to think about your bank account, to think about your kids’ future, to think about so many things. And in that way, I’m very proud.”

Crooks, meanwhile, is a bit more optimistic. After the recent success of the Occupy movement, the public might be more willing to listen to plain truths about the world’s problems.

“It might have been more of a challenge if we made the film four years ago, before the current financial crisis, but I think people are beginning to understand the interconnectivity between Wall Street’s short-term thinking and civil wars in the Amazon and genocide in the Congo and the exponential debt problem and widening global poverty,” he said.

“I think this will not come as total news to people. And I hope that it will find a very large audience, not only at home but around the world.”

Source: The Canadian Press

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Headline, Industry News

Years-in-the-making doc ‘Surviving Progress’ examines future of civilization

TORONTO - Quebec filmmaker Mathieu Roy has spent six years on “Surviving Progress,” a sprawling documentary co-directed by Harold Crooks that spans economics, history, the environment and the very future of civilization itself.

And over that painstaking production period, Roy has grown sick of hearing one specific response to the film’s subject matter from friends and peers.

“So many people during the editing process were like: ‘Your film’s so depressing,'” Roy recalled in an interview before the movie’s premiere at September’s Toronto International Film Festival.

“It’s like, the world is … depressing too, you know? We live in that world. We can’t just make it pretty and pink-y. I thought it was important to showcase that information in a raw way, that that’s the state of things right now. And even though our distributor and some of our producers were like, ‘it’s too dark,’ we insisted.”

Inspired by Ronald Wright’s “A Short History of Progress,” the globe-trotting doc – which opens in Canadian theatres on Friday – explores the idea of “progress traps,” or innovations that might actually cause more problems than they solve.

The film – which Crooks calls a “cinematic requiem to progress as usual” – details how unsustainable economic and environmental policies could throw the planet into peril. By interweaving historical anecdotes with modern-day evidence from all over the world, the film probes how the global civilization could be threatened by over-consumption.

Their journey brought them through exotic locales, including a Chinese car-driving club and an agricultural town in Brazil that they were later told was the country’s murder capital, and they landed interviews featuring the lofty likes of Margaret Atwood, Jane Goodall, Stephen Hawking and David Suzuki.

An intimidating crew of heavyweight intellectuals, to be sure, but Crooks – who grew up in Ottawa and Montreal and now lives in New York – said the interviewee to really make him nervous was biologist Craig Venter, one of the first people to sequence the human genome.

“Craig Venter is one of the most renowned biologists alive today,” said Crooks, who directed the 2003 documentary “The Corporation.” “I had never even taken a course in biology in my life. That was a wild ride.”

But one of the biggest names attached to the movie was kept off-screen: legendary director Martin Scorsese, who executive produced the film.

The story behind his involvement is rather unlikely. Roy worked as Scorsese’s personal assistant on the Montreal set of his 2004 film “The Aviator,” and Roy – then an aspiring filmmaker who had studied at the New York Film Academy – made sure to soak up every detail he could.

“I was always right next to him, right next to Leonardo DiCaprio, I had the privilege of learning from the master every day,” Roy said. “I was bombarding him with questions. I think he liked me, he recognized my passion in cinema, and the relationship survived the project, and we’ve been very close ever since.”

Over the years as Roy worked to adapt Wright’s book, he approached Scorsese – whom he affectionately calls an “encyclopedia” – for advice. Scorsese read the book and offered to lend his time – and name – to the project, in the hopes it would help “Surviving Progress” get made.

Now that the film is finally ready for theatres, Roy admits he’s not sure about its commercial prospects.

“We want to reach out to as many people as possible, but at the same time, while editing, we started to realize that (the film) wasn’t going to be for everybody,” Roy said.

“But I think it’s not a bad thing to be challenged when you watch a film… It forces you to make connections in your mind, and to think about the world we live in, to think about your bank account, to think about your kids’ future, to think about so many things. And in that way, I’m very proud.”

Crooks, meanwhile, is a bit more optimistic. After the recent success of the Occupy movement, the public might be more willing to listen to plain truths about the world’s problems.

“It might have been more of a challenge if we made the film four years ago, before the current financial crisis, but I think people are beginning to understand the interconnectivity between Wall Street’s short-term thinking and civil wars in the Amazon and genocide in the Congo and the exponential debt problem and widening global poverty,” he said.

“I think this will not come as total news to people. And I hope that it will find a very large audience, not only at home but around the world.”

Source: The Canadian Press

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

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