“We Are As Gods”

This documentary film was scheduled to screen at South by Southwest (SXSW). Screen Zealots will continue some of our planned coverage of SXSW, the annual film festival in Austin, Texas that was cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. 



If you’ve ever wanted to know the entire life story of counterculture legend Stewart Brand, here’s your chance.

The exhausting documentary “We Are As Gods” covers Brand’s wild and wacky lifetime of adventures, from tales of LSD-laced ice cream and the beginnings of his popular Whole Earth Catalog, to the idea that harvesting DNA from a frozen Woolly Mammoth in the hopes that the species can be seen roaming the wild tundra once more is actually a good idea.

Brand is a fascinating subject, but the film’s structure is a mess. It’s a clear case of “too much of a good thing” because directors Jason Sussberg and David Alvarado can’t quite seem to rein in the copious amounts of information presented here. The documentary lacks focus, but it’s still an interesting portrait of the controversial character.

Brand is described as a psychedelic experimenter, cyberspace pioneer, and environmentalist. Since the 1960s, he’s been a leader of modern environmentalism. But now that he is urging humanity to use biotech to work towards the de-extinction of several species, Brand’s lofty goals to re-engineer humanity’s relationship with nature is raising the eyebrows of many of his former environmental allies.

It takes big thinkers and dreamers to change the world, and Brand certainly has devoted his life to conserve the Earth. “We Are As Gods” paints a compelling portrait of determination when it comes to building a more sustainable future. Call him crazy or call him ahead of his time, this documentary is guaranteed to spark many late night discussions about this riveting character.

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