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The Writing Code

Meet The Filmmaker: Gene Searchinger

Friday, March 9, 2006

Location: NY Chapter office: 1375 Broadway (between 37th & 38th) Suite 2103

Reception: 6:00 - 6:30 PM ~ Program: 6:30 - 8:30 PM

*Free to Members! $15 for those without current membership


Please Call 212-459-3630 ext. 200 or via EMAIL

Gene Searchinger will show his film “The Writing Code.”

The Writing Code. This is a preview of one program in a major new series of films for Public Television on the most important invention in the history of mankind. Something more important, even, than the wheel. It is what created civilization. It is the incredible device we know as Writing. Even though writing is both our most creative technology and our greatest art form, nobody has made films about it before. The Writing Code is funded by both the National Endowment for the Humanities and The National Science Foundation. This is Program Two, out of three.  It is fully edited and ready for screening, and it is of special interest to people who care about documentary film making, because it is not quite finished. Technical tasks are still to be complete- So changes can still be made and the producers want to know what you think before they “lock picture.” The films are of special interest, also, because they follow the hugely successful PBS series of films, by the same producers, on language. The Human Language is now seen as a “basic text” and is being used in over 3,000 colleges. Will this series fare as well? Is it equally informative and entertaining?The distinguishing qualities of the human species are that we walk upright, that our bodies don’t have hair, and that we have large brains. The asset that made us top creature was that we acquired language. The asset that gave us civilization was the invention of writing. It happened a mere five thousand years ago. The first of these films shows where and how it happened. Program One, The Greatest Invention, is on the origin of writing in what is now Iraq; on Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic; the invention of Cherokee writing by an illiterate blacksmith; the man who wrote the traffic sign Don’t Even Think of Parking Here; how Chinese writing works; and who writes fortune cookies. The Greatest Invention is about the nature of writing and what it has done for us. Program Two, The Art and The Craft, is about writing in stone; how papyrus was made; how Gutenberg changed the world; how the post office works; the life and death of the typewriter; the invention of spaces between words; how to make paper out of blue jeans; and about how writers write – with crime writer Elmore Leonard, poet Quincy Troupe, and author Margaret Atwood who says that “Call me Ishmael” is the best opening line she has ever read.  The Writing Code shows that we are totally dependent on writing for the survival of our species.

Gene Searchinger (producer/director) started making industrial films (for oil companies, etc.) in the 60’s.  Around the world ten times.  Later, films for the Metropolitan Museum (on Velasquez, Noguchi, building the Chinese Garden Courtyard) and the Metropolitan Opera (the chorus, the ballet, tenors and divas).  Favorite films: The Dam at Nagajunasagar; Paradox on 72nd Stree; and In a Brilliant Light, on van Gogh, for the Metropolitan, which was shown here.

Suzanne Bauman (producer/director and editor) has produced and directed films for all networks, for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, and the Smithsonian.  Her last PBS special was the immensely popular Jackie Behind the Myth. She has won numerous awards including an Academy nomination for A Cuban Odyssey and an Academy Special Merit award for La Belle Époque. Her feature-length documentary


Organizer Katherine Jensen


Fri, March 9, 2007
noon - 2:30 p.m.
(GMT-0500) US/Central

Event has ended


1375 Broadway, Suite 2103