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Surviving Progress (2011)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 23 March 2013 (Japan)
2:04 | Trailer
Theorists consider the evolution of human society and question the sustainability of the current paradigm.


Mathieu Roy, Harold Crooks (co-director)
1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ronald Wright Ronald Wright ... Himself - Author, A Short History of Progress
Mark Levine Mark Levine ... Himself - Group Leader, China Energy Group
Robert Wright Robert Wright ... Himself - Author, Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny
Marina Silva Marina Silva ... Herself - Former Minister of the Environment, Brazil
Kambale Musavuli Kambale Musavuli ... Himself - Friends of the Congo
Vaclav Smil Vaclav Smil ... Himself - Population Scientist & Author, Global Catastrophies and Trends
Colin Beavan Colin Beavan ... Himself - Engineer & Author
Michael Hudson Michael Hudson ... Himself - Economic Historian & Former Wall Street Economist
Jane Goodall ... Herself - Primatologist
Ming Chen Ming Chen ... Himself - Self Driving Club Tour Guide
Changnian Chen Changnian Chen ... Himself - Professor & Chen Ming's Father
J. Craig Venter J. Craig Venter ... Himself - Biologist & CEO Synthetic Genomics
Raquel Taitson-Queiroz Raquel Taitson-Queiroz ... Herself - Environmental Police Officer, IBAMA
Gary Marcus Gary Marcus ... Himself - Cognitive Psychologist & Author, The Birth of the Mind
Daniel Povinelli Daniel Povinelli ... Himself - Behavioral Scientist


Humanity's ascent is often measured by the speed of progress. But what if progress is actually spiraling us downwards, towards collapse? Ronald Wright, whose best-seller, A Short History Of Progress inspired SURVIVING PROGRESS, shows how past civilizations were destroyed by "progress traps" - alluring technologies and belief systems that serve immediate needs, but ransom the future. As pressure on the world's resources accelerates and financial elites bankrupt nations, can our globally-entwined civilization escape a final, catastrophic progress trap? With potent images and illuminating insights from thinkers who have probed our genes, our brains, and our social behaviour, this requiem to progress-as-usual also poses a challenge: to prove that making apes smarter isn't an evolutionary dead-end. Written by Producers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Every time history repeats itself, the price goes up




Not Rated


Official Sites:

Official site




English | Mandarin | Portuguese | French

Release Date:

23 March 2013 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Survivre au progrès See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,161, 8 April 2012, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$47,139, 24 June 2012
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby SR



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

the people that made this are no better
28 February 2013 | by vailsySee all my reviews

I found the final words in this documentary to be quite haunting.. where the speaker talks of 'the continuation' of humanity with a kind of glazed look in his eyes. If we do A, B and C then WE can survive

When you boil it down and get to the essence, this is the problem in it's purist form. The likes of Stephen Hawkins also disappointingly express this argument.. we need to get to other planets if we are to maintain our survival. Isn't that point of view precisely what got us where we are? Did explorers not look out to sea thinking exactly the same thing? Going out and destroying multiple planets is the answer..

So the super brains are just as disappointing to me as the bankers who they predictably criticize throughout for everything.. we have lots of artistic images of suited guys with briefcases drowning under lily pads, Chinese poor boys made good etc etc and the obvious comparisons to the Roman Empire and the Mayan's, even though our present day situation is infinitely different

We are also treated to lots of middle class environmentalists, some of whom tried sustainable living (for a year).. no doubt in their expensive New York apartments which they already bought and paid for. They try sustainable living but are already sitting pretty, yet they are supposed to be role models for the rest of us. They are so humble that they can even compare themselves to apes and in doing so are thoroughly patronizing in my view.. to apes that is

Just because you are self aware does not mean that you are not part of the problem. This documentary offers no practical solutions about how we can go about making this world a better place to live in for future life living on it... All species of life, not just humans

This documentary reaffirmed to me that people on the right and the left are both the enemy.. the actively and passively greedy. The people that consume and the people that just sit there and observe, write books and make documentaries about it

I saw just one person who is part of an environmental police force in Brazil that is actively out there actually trying to make a difference, something that needs to be done on a much wider scale. Otherwise I saw nothing here of interest

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