Still from Surviving Progress
Still from Surviving Progress

Surviving Progress

by Mathieu Roy
A cinematic contemplation on our evolution from cave-dwellers to space explorers.
2011  ·  1h23m  ·  Canada
About the Film
“Every time history repeats itself the price goes up.” Surviving Progress presents the story of human advancement as awe-inspiring and double-edged. It reveals the grave risk of running the 21st century’s software — our know-how — on the ancient hardware of our primate brain which hasn’t been upgraded in 50,000 years. With rich imagery and immersive soundtrack, filmmakers Mathieu Roy and Harold Crooks launch us on journey to contemplate our evolution from cave-dwellers to space explorers. Ronald Wright, whose best-seller, “A Short History Of Progress” inspired this film, reveals how civilizations are repeatedly destroyed by “progress traps” — alluring technologies serve immediate needs, but ransom the future. With intersecting stories from a Chinese car-driving club, a Wall Street insider who exposes an out-of-control, environmentally rapacious financial elite, and eco-cops defending a scorched Amazon, the film lays stark evidence before us. In the past, we could use up a region’s resources and move on. But if today’s global civilization collapses from over-consumption, that’s it. We have no back-up planet. Surviving Progress brings us thinkers who have probed our primate past, our brains, and our societies. Some amplify Wright’s urgent warning, while others have faith that the very progress which has put us in jeopardy is also the key to our salvation. Cosmologist Stephen Hawking looks to homes on other planets. Biologist Craig Venter, whose team decoded the human genome, designs synthetic organisms he hopes will create artificial food and fuel for all. Distinguished Professor of Environment Vaclav Smil counters that five billion “have-nots” aspire to our affluent lifestyle and, without limits on the energy and resource-consumption of the “haves”, we face certain catastrophe. Others — including primatologist Jane Goodall, author Margaret Atwood, and activists from the Congo, Canada, and USA — place their hope in our ingenuity and moral evolution. Surviving Progress leaves us with a challenge: To prove that making apes smarter was not an evolutionary dead-end.
Upcoming Screenings

Stay tuned for upcoming screenings!

Festivals and Awards
Sustainable Living Film Festival – Istanbul
Journées québécoises de la solidarité internationale – Saguenay, QC
Dubai International Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival
Festival du nouveau cinéma – Montreal
Vancouver International Film Festival
Louis-Martin Paradis
Harold Crooks
Marc Achbar, Betsy Carson, Gerry Flahive, Silva Basmajian, Martin Scorsese and Emma Tillinger Koskoff
Mario Janelle, Marc Achbar, Jean-Pierre St. Louis and Dany Racine
Mathieu Roy and Harold Crooks
Original Music
Patrick Watson and Michael Ramsey
Film Related
About the Director

Mathieu Roy

Mathieu Roy is a Montreal-based filmmaker whose career path has steered him into the worlds of cinema, theatre, opera, TV and classical music. In the process, Mathieu has traveled the world and collaborated with some of the world’s most prominent artists including legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese. His first feature documentary, François Girard en Trois Actes, was awarded the 2005 prix Gémeau for best cultural documentary. In 2006, he directed La Peau de Léopard, a documentary featuring journalist Pierre Nadeau on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In April 2009, at the opening of the 27th International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA), Mathieu presented Mort à Venise, a musical journey with Louis Lortie. The film won the Prix du public ARTV. Mathieu’s latest documentary, Ecclestone’s Formula, is the first project to tell the story of Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone. It was broadcast by Radio-Canada in June 2011 and is expected to be seen across the world during the course of the next year. Mathieu’s current film projects include his first fiction feature, a family drama and a multimedia project about Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation. Entitled Toutes les Mémoires du Monde, the film will feature Scorsese himself as well as Walter Salles, Abbas Kiarostami, Wim Wenders, Bertrand Tavernier, Fatih Akin, Wong Kar Wai and many others.

Other films by Mathieu Roy