Film on Singularity Author Ray Kurzweil to Debut at Tribeca

A new film, Transcendent Man, is about to be released on Ray Kurzweil, a leading futurist who is the author of The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. The documentary will be screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City in April.

Kurzweil is co-founder of the new Singularity University, which will begin operations at NASA Ames this summer. The new university is a collaboration of NASA Ames, the International Space University, and Google.

The full press release is below.


Filmmakers Barry and Felicia Ptolemy (Ptolemaic Productions) along with partners (Therapy Studios) make their festival debut at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival (April 22-May 3, 2009) with TRANSCENDENT MAN, which makes its world premiere in the World Documentary Feature Competition on April 25. No distributor is attached at this time. See below for premiere screening details.

The compelling feature-length documentary film–a first for Director Barry Ptolemy–chronicles the life and controversial ideas of luminary Ray Kurzweil. For more than three decades, inventor, futurist, and NY Times best-selling author Ray Kurzweil has been one of the most respected and provocative advocates of the role of technology in our future.

In TRANSCENDENT MAN, Ptolemy follows Kurzweil around the globe as he presents the daring arguments from his best-selling book, The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. Kurzweil predicts that with the ever-accelerating rate of technological change, humanity is fast approaching an era in which our intelligence will become increasingly non-biological and trillions of times more powerful than today. This will be the dawning of a new civilization that will enable us to transcend our biological limitations. In Kurzweil’s post-biological world, there will be no clear distinction between human and machine, real reality and virtual reality. Human aging and illness will be reversed, world hunger and poverty will be solved, and we will ultimately cure death.

“Kurzweil is the best person I know at predicting the future,” according to Bill Gates. “Kurzweil envisions a future in which information technologies have advanced so far and fast that they enable humanity to transcend its biological limitations—transforming our lives in ways we can’t yet imagine.”

Ptolemy expertly explores the social and philosophical implications of these profound changes and the potential threats they pose to human civilization in dialogues with world leaders such as Colin Powell; technologists Hugo de Garis, Peter Diamandis, Kevin Warwick, and Dean Kamen; journalists Kevin Kelly and Tom Abate; and luminary Stevie Wonder. Kurzweil himself maintains a radically optimistic view of the future course of human development, while acknowledging new dangers. As such, TRANSCENDENT MAN offers a view of the coming age that is both a dramatic culmination of centuries of technological ingenuity and a genuinely inspiring vision of our ultimate destiny.

“My ideas challenge people’s most basic assumptions about life, death, and what it means to be human,” says Kurzweil. “Through many conversations, it became clear to me that Barry Ptolemy had a deep understanding of these ideas and their impact on every aspect of human life. I thought he could make a great movie and it would appear that he has.”

TRANSCENDENT MAN is an evocative film that not only brings to light Kurzweil’s amazing vision of the future but also exposes the heart and soul of the man behind the exponential curves. Given unprecedented access to every aspect of Ray Kurzweil’s life for more than 24 months, the Ptolemys delve deep inside the mind of this complex man and deliver a personal, uncompromising account of the man behind the science and his surprisingly private motivations for this transformative vision.

“I believe our film offers something many Hollywood films and documentaries lack today: hope about our future,” says producer Felicia Ptolemy. “Ray is describing the technologies that we, the human race, have created as a tool we can use for good, rather than the continual narrative that we are on a path to destroying ourselves. We intend for this film to combat cynicism with the idea that we can and will change the world for the better.”

“When Barry first introduced us to Ray, we were blown away by the boldness of his claims,” says Executive Producer Joseph Disanto. “His concepts on our evolution and the ability to live as long as we want evoke huge questions and implications about how we understand ourselves. We are really excited about helping further awareness of these topics.”

TRANSCENDENT MAN is produced by Ptolemaic Productions in partnership with Therapy Studios. The production team began principal photography in March 2007 and continued through February 2009. The Ptolemys traveled to more than 25 cities in five countries on an exhaustive two-year, nonstop production schedule, filming in such cities as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, Hartford, Manchester, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., London, Milan, Sao Paulo and Hong Kong.

Award winning American composer Philip Glass contributes original theme music that mirrors the depth and intensity of the film. Nominated for three Academy Awards and three Golden Globes, Glass has created original scores for such acclaimed movies as Notes on a Scandal, The Hours, and The Truman Show.