Being Human in a Biotech Age a new film series at University of California, Berkeley

Please join us Tuesday, April 12, 2016 on the UC Berkeley campus for the fifth film event of the 2015/2016 series: DNA Dreams.

The screening and discussion will take place at 4pm on Tuesday April 12, 2016 at 470 Stephens Hall. Mark your calendars!

Being Human in the Biotech Age is organized by

and co-sponsored by

About the Film Series

With powerful new biotechnologies now emerging, the prospect of creating humans with “better” genetic characteristics is on the horizon. Some support these technologies as a way to "seize control of human evolution" or as an efficient means of producing "enhanced" children and future generations. Others believe that they would encourage efforts to engineer children to specification, and that creating genetically modified humans would open the door to new forms of inequality, discrimination and conflict. This film series explores what it means to be human in a biotech age. All films will be screened on Tuesdays at 4:00 pm at 470 Stephens Hall at UC Berkeley.

Check back for updates about discussants and additional films.

DNA Dreams
April 12

Panel discussion following the documentary with UC Berkeley Chancellor's Professor of Sociology, Troy Duster and UC Berkeley Professor of Bioengineering, Terry Johnson.

What if we could identify the genes that contain information about human intelligence? Would a brave new world of improved human beings be waiting for us? This new world is now in the making in China’s Pearl River Delta. The documentary DNA Dreams delves into the heart of bio-science in China, exploring the lifestyles and beliefs of a new generation of young scientists in Shenzhen.

September 2015 

FIXED: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement (2014)

Director Regan Brashear will speak after the screening and answer  your questions.

From bionic limbs and neural implants to prenatal screening, researchers around the world are hard at work developing a myriad of technologies to fix or enhance the human body. FIXED: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement takes a close look at the drive to be “better than human” and the radical technological innovations that may take us there. What does “disabled” mean when a man with no legs can run faster than most people in the world? What does “normal” mean when cosmetic surgery procedures have risen over 450% percent in the last fifteen years and increasing numbers of people turn to “smart drugs” every day to get ahead at school or work? With prenatal screening able to predict hundreds of probable conditions, who should determine what kind of people get to be born? If you could augment your body’s abilities in any way imaginable, would you?  

“Fascinating, humane, and provocative reframing of conceptions of ‘normal’ bodies and ‘disability.'” – Gina Maranto, author of Quest for Perfection

“Expertly illuminates the debate surrounding human enhancement and transhumanist philosophies, while giving a clear voice to those who might be the most impacted – people with disabilities and their ongoing struggles within an `ableist’ culture.” – Ray Grott, Director, Rehabilitation Engineering Technology (RET) Project, San Francisco State University

Made in India
October 2015

Made in India (2010)
Directors Rebecca Haimowitz & Vaishali Sinha will be be with us via Skype to comment and answer questions.

Made in India is a feature-length documentary film about the human experiences behind the phenomena of "outsourcing" surrogate mothers to India. The film shows the journey of an infertile American couple, an Indian surrogate and the reproductive outsourcing business that brings them together. Weaving together these personal stories within the context of a growing international industry, Made in India explores a complicated clash of families in crisis, reproductive technology, and choice from a global perspective.

"The benefits and perils of medical tourism are amply engrossing feature." –  Variety

"“Extremely absorbing, the film deals head on with the reproductive tourism business valued at over $450 million…The film does not judge, it only states and allows the viewer that prerogative." –  The Hindu

Surviving Eugenics
November 17

Directors Nicola Fairbrother and Rob Wilson will be with us via Skype to comment and answer questions.

Surviving Eugenics is a documentary about the history and ongoing significance of eugenics. Anchored by survivor narratives from the province of Alberta in Canada, Surviving Eugenics provides a unique insiders' view of life in institutions for the "feeble-minded," and raises broader questions about disability, human variation, and contemporary social policies.

Surviving Eugenics is a compelling and powerful testament to the courage and tenacity of the survivors of eugenics policies and practices, and of their recent defense teams. It is also a testament to the persistent, unfortunate, but entirely resistable tendency of the rest of us to permit ethical and political issues to be turned into purely technical ones. - Sandra Harding

No Más Bebés
February 16

dirs. Renee Tajima-Pena, produced by Virginia Espino

They came to have their babies. They went home sterilized. The story of immigrant mothers who sued county doctors, the state, and the U.S. government after they were prodded into sterilizations while giving birth at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center during the 1960s and 70s. Led by an intrepid, 26-year-old Chicana lawyer and armed with hospital records secretly gathered by a whistle-blowing young doctor, the mothers faced public exposure and stood up to powerful institutions in the name of justice.