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Surviving Progress

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Language  English
7.6/10 IMDb

Genre  Documentary
Country  Canada
Surviving Progress movie poster

Director  Mathieu Roy, Harold Crooks (co-director)
Release date  September 11, 2011 (2011-09-11) (2011 TIFF) April 6, 2012 (2012-04-06) (New York City)
Based on  A Short History of Progress  by Ronald Wright
Writer  Harold Crooks, Mathieu Roy
Initial release  September 11, 2011 (Canada)
Directors  Harold Crooks, Mathieu Roy
Music director  Patrick Watson, Micheal Ramsey
Screenplay  Harold Crooks, Mathieu Roy
Cast  Stephen Hawking (Himself), David Suzuki (Himself), Jane Goodall (Herself)
Similar movies  The Price We Pay, Princes of the Yen, Four Horsemen, Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve, Detropia, Death By China
Tagline  Every time history repeats itself, the price goes up.

Surviving progress trailer hd

Surviving Progress is a 2011 Canadian documentary film written and directed by Mathieu Roy and Harold Crooks, loosely based on A Short History of Progress, a book and a 2004 Massey Lecture series by Ronald Wright about societal collapse. The film was produced by Daniel Louis, Denise Robert, and Gerry Flahive.


Surviving Progress movie scenes

Subject matter

Surviving Progress movie scenes

The film is structured as a series of interviews, interspersed with footage from all over the world. The film is said to be "inspired by" Wright's lectures: Unlike the book, which focused on ancient civilizations, the film focuses on the present-day impact of civilization, including the impact of concentrated wealth. The underlying message here is that current models and strategies of economic growth have no practical connections with the real world. That is to say, the lack of an ethical underpinning in modern global economic practices is directly responsible for the overconsumption and exploitation of natural resources to the extent that the increasingly more probable future population collapse would take modern society right along with it.


The film rights were sold to Cinémaginaire in 2008. It was directed by Mathieu Roy and co-directed by Harold Crooks with Daniel Louis and Denise Robert as producers for Cinemaginaire and Gerry Flahive as producer for the National Film Board of Canada (NFB). Executive producers included director Martin Scorsese, Silva Basmajian from NFB, and Big Picture Media Corporation; the latter had produced the 2003 documentary The Corporation


The film premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. It was also shown as part of Festival Atmospheres on March 31, 2012 in Paris.


Calling it a "bone-chilling new documentary", Roger Ebert gave it (3½ stars out of 4) and called it "bright, entertaining" According to Maclean's:

Turning ideas into seductive, irresistible cinema isn’t easy, especially if they’re the kind of ideas that are good for you....But a fresh genre of populist persuasion has emerged in recent years that’s met with remarkable success: the dynamic docu-essay. Some notable examples include The Corporation, an likely [sic] hit that diagnosed capitalism’s basic organism as a psychopath; The Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore's power-point polemic, which put global warming on the map; and Inside Job, a forensic inquiry into Wall Street's 2008 financial meltdown. The popularity of these films (the last two won Oscars) underscores a genuine appetite for global analysis that the fragmented vision of the news media fails to provide....The latest example is Surviving Progress, a Canadian documentary about the increasing weight of the human footprint of the planet. It’s a high-level lesson that is enlightening, engrossing and beautiful to look at.

Kenneth Turan calls it "brainy and light on its feet, bristling with provocative insights and probing questions"; according to Turan, "though it features lively editing and a wide variety of involving visuals, Surviving Progress depends for its impact on the intelligence and eloquence of the numerous people interviewed."

According to Rotten Tomatoes, 27 of the 36 reviewers rate the film "fresh."

The film received a Green Cross Italia Special Mention at the CinemAmbiente Environmental Film Festival in Torino, Italy, in June 2012.


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