Sometimes there comes along a documentary that is so profound, so moving, that you want to shout out to the whole world that they must see it. Human is one of those unforgettable documentaries that have the power to change an enormous amount of people. It may even have the ability to change how governments treat their citizens. Directed by French-born Yann Arthus-Bertrand, a well-known and incredible photographer, journalist, and reporter (as well as an avid environmentalist), Human is a stunning visual feast for the eyes and has a powerful impact on the soul.
WHAT IS IT THAT MAKES US HUMAN? IS IT THAT WE LOVE, THAT WE FIGHT? THAT WE LAUGH? CRY? OUR CURIOSITY? THE QUEST FOR DISCOVERY?
PREVIEW OF WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM “HUMAN”
José Mujica, nicknamed Pepe Mujica, was President of Uruguay from 2010 to 2015. A former Tupamaros freedom fighter in the 60s and the 70s, he was detained, like a hostage by the dictatorship between 1973 and 1985. He advocates a philosophy of life focused on sobriety: learn to live with what is necessary and fairest.
MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE PRODUCTION OF THE HUMAN DOCUMENTARY
Throughout the filming of Human, Arthus and his team of 16 journalists interviewed 2020 people from 60 different countries, asking each person the same 40 questions, covering many subjects such as family, love, religion, ambition, and failure.
They asked questions like:
“What is the toughest trial you have faced? What did you learn from it?”
“When was the last time you said ‘I love you’ to your parents?” and “What is love to you?”
“What are your thoughts on homosexuality, the destruction of the environment and the cost of war?”
“What was it like growing up in your country?”
“Why is humanity making the same mistakes?”
The answers often surprised the journalists and frequently took the conversation to unexpected places.
They even interviewed freedom fighters, death row inmates, farmers in Mali, and war veterans who have seen life in a very different context than have most of us.The variety of people interviewed, from so many different countries, shows you the scale of the world’s common concerns, yet also gives you inspiration that the majority of people want the same things — to live in peace and harmony with each other, for governments to treat us well, and to have that connectedness that is so important. The film also showcases just how hard some people have it in this world and makes you appreciate your own life much more.
HUMAN EXTENDED VERSION VOL 1
HUMAN EXTENDED VERSION VOL 2
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EXTRA: STORY BEHIND THE DOCUMENTARY SERIES OF HUMAN
A few years ago, Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s helicopter broke down in rural Mali. While waiting for repairs, the filmmaker spent a day talking with a local farmer about his hopes, concerns, and priorities—examining the basic questions that shape a life. “It was the first time I had ever been confronted with really finding out about a person’s life and experiences,” Arthus-Bertrand says. And now, thanks to Google, the United Nations, and 2,020 willing subjects, Arthus-Bertrand hopes to bring that experience to all of us.
HUMAN became the first movie to premiere in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations, to an audience of 1,000 viewers, including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. (Arthus-Bertrand is a goodwill ambassador for UNEP, the UN Environmental Programme.) On the same day, Google launched six HUMAN-dedicated YouTube channels, offering the film subtitled in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. The YouTube channels also host three hour-long features on HUMAN, covering its genesis, the making of the film, and its music. (While the film opened in 500 French theaters, U.S. theatrical distribution is still pending.) Arthus-Bertrand’s nonprofit, the GoodPlanet Foundation, will also provide free copies of the film and debate materials for schools and NGOs around the world. “Hopefully, it will be a film that opens the discussion,” he says.
To create HUMAN, Arthus-Bertrand and his team of 16 journalists interviewed 2,020 people in 60 countries. Each interview consisted of the same 40 questions, covering heavy subjects from religion and family (“When is the last time you said ‘I love you’ to your parents?”) to ambition and failure (“What is the toughest trial you have had to face, and what did you learn from it?”). The questions stemmed from those asked in 7 Billion Others, Arthus-Bertrand’s 2003 project and traveling exhibition that features over 6,000 interviews.
In the film, single-frame interviews are interspersed with the sweeping shots of deserts and mountains that Arthus-Bertrand is known for, against a soundtrack of world music composed by Armand Amar. Arthus-Bertrand, who points to Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi and Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life as influences, sees the film as a portrayal of the world through three voices: people, landscape, and traditional music. “Getting at the heart of what it means to be a human can be a little heavy,” he says. “The aerial images give you a respite, a moment to reflect on what has been said before.”
One thing HUMAN does not offer is background. The film cuts between interviews and landscapes without an introduction of name or country or language. Arthus-Bertrand hopes that removing personal identifiers will draw focus to our similarities. “We wanted to concentrate on what we all share,” he explains. “If you put the name of a person, or what country they’re from, you don’t feel that as strongly.”