Death by Design

The phenomenon of programmed cell death is a metaphor for life and loss.

Premiere Date
March 25, 1997
Length
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    1995 Visions du Réel Festival of Documentary Films-Prix Visions du Réel
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    1996 National Geographic -Earthwatch Environmental Film Award
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    1996 Prix Europa-Non-Fiction Television Program of the Year
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    1996 San Francisco International Film Festival-Golden Gate Award
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    1996 National Educational Media Network-Gold Apple
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    1996 Festival du Film du Chercheur, Nancy, France -Grand Jury Prize
  • Producer

    Peter Friedman

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    The Film

    In an unusual marriage of art and science, Death by Design takes viewers on a fantastic journey through a remarkable terrain. Its destination: the land of cells.

    In this invisible world, cells communicate with each other, work together, reproduce, and die, all to benefit the larger organism of which they are part. But Death by Design is neither a biology primer nor a report on recent scientific breakthroughs. The filmmakers’ observation of cell interactions reveals a society astonishingly similar to our own human world, as images of cell life gleaned from state of the art microcinematographic equipment find their parallels in imploding skyscrapers and even unused film outtakes on an editing room floor.

    The program contains interviews with noted biologists including Rita Levi-Montalcini, a programmed-cell-death pioneer and winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize for Medicine; Polly Matzinger; Robert Horvitz; and Martin Raff. But Death by Design is anything but a dull science film. It is one that, in the words of director Friedman, should be seen by “everyone with cells!”

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