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Documentary: The Immortals

If aging and mortality can be looked upon as illnesses, might there be hope that they can be cured? An industry of age extending pioneers is betting on it, and many wealthy consumers have volunteered their cells, DNA or severed heads for the cause. "The Immortals" examines the business of eternal life and the moral and ethical implications of this controversial quest.

Within the sultry, arid landscapes of Arizona, a select group of willing guinea pigs lie in a perpetual frozen state. At the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, the clientele buys into the theory that science will one day uncover the cure for all mortal ills, and have the capacity to revive the dead into a brave new world. Company co-founder Linda Chamberlain offers a tour of the facilities, which concludes in a showroom of cryogenic tanks. Her own husband and parents-in-law are housed among the rows of icy cylindrical graves.

In the heart of Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs are taking the notion of anti-aging up a notch. Not content to utilize temporary facial fillers and rejuvenation creams, they're employing tools that vary from experimental drugs and vitamins to extremely risky biological manipulations.

Liz Parrish, the co-founder of BioViva, was her own first client. She underwent a procedure that extended the tips of her chromosomes. These caps are crucial in the cell replications that keep us youthful and vital. Parrish's goals are not merely aesthetic. By mounting an aggressive defense against the biological process of aging, she hopes to one day extend life spans by hundreds or thousands of years.

In her view, if the medical and scientific communities have coalesced in their efforts to cure cancer and other chronic diseases, then why should they waver on the subject of mortality? After all, aging is the number one cause of death. The film addresses this and other debates that incite resistance to the eternal life movement, including issues related to overpopulation, climate change, and our planet's dwindling resources.

Some may look upon these efforts as ridiculous, outlandish or downright immoral. "The Immortals" seems to recognize the aspects of this story that plays like science fiction while acknowledging that one day they could become our reality.

Directed by: Tomas Kaan
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