Recent episodes of Here Be Monsters have been largely about death. So, on this episode David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg teach us about the exact opposite—immortality, living forever. Their documentary film, The Immortalists, follows a small community of scientists who think of aging as a preventable disease, not an inevitable outcome.
Seeking immortality is nothing new, in fact, the oldest known text, The Epic of Gilgamesh, is largely about a king's quest to live forever. And further, it seems to be a quest of the rich and powerful. Today, the community of bio-gerontologists is largely white, rich, and male. Co-director Jason Sussberg calls aging a "first world problem," associating it with Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs.
One of the film's protagonists is Aubrey de Grey, an incredibly vocal advocate of anti-aging. He's a computer programmer turned bio-gerontologist. In 2012, he participated in an Oxford debate against Sir Colin Blakemore where the motion was to defeat aging entirely. A clip from this debate appears in the episode, and the whole debate is certainly worth watching.
The Immortalists is not yet available for download, but it will be soon (release date is Fall 2014). In the meantime, you can check your local film festivals and theaters to see if there will be showings. Also, visit TheImmoratlists.com, @theimmortalists on Twitter, and The Immortalists on Facebook.
If you enjoyed this conversation, you'll probably enjoy HBM010: The Time Traveler's Convention which touches on many of the same topics, but through the lens of retrograde time travel. You might also enjoy our interview with Sean Dunne, another filmmaker who made a short doc at the annual Gathering of the Juggalos. We talked to him in HBM016: 10,000 Juggalos.