How to Live Forever

How to Live Forever

Jack LaLanne and Mark Wexler as seen in HOW TO LIVE FOREVER, a documentary by Mark Wexler. Picture courtesy Variance Films. All rights reserved.

How to Live Forever (2009/2011)

Opened: 05/13/2011 Limited

Limited05/13/2011
Quad Cinema/NYC05/13/2011 - 05/26/201114 days
Laemmle's Moni...05/20/2011 - 06/02/201114 days
Laemmle's Town...06/03/2011 - 06/09/20117 days
Kendall Square...08/19/2011 - 08/25/20117 days
DVD06/05/2012

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home, Twitter, Facebook

Genre: Documentary

Rated: Unrated

Synopsis

Director Mark Wexler embarks on a worldwide trek to investigate just what it means to grow old and what it could mean to really live forever. But whose advice should he take? Does 94-yearold exercise guru Jack LaLanne have all the answers, or does Buster, a 101-year-old chainsmoking, beer-drinking marathoner? What about futurist Ray Kurzweil, a laughter yoga expert, or an elder porn star?

Wexler explores the viewpoints of delightfully unusual characters alongside those of health, fitness and life-extension experts in this engaging new documentary, which challenges our notions of youth and aging with comic poignancy. Begun as a study in life-extension, How To Live Forever evolves into a thought-provoking examination of what truly gives life meaning.

Director's Statement

I have always been drawn to stories of the human connections that define us, an interest reflected in my work both as a photojournalist and a documentary filmmaker. The death of my mother and the arrival of my AARP card led me to examine the most fundamental human connection of all -- to life itself. My natural instinct and my southern California lifestyle demanded more life, longer life, younger life. Somewhere between the hyperbaric chamber and the cryonic pod, I began to fully appreciate the complexity of the issue.

When I set out to make a documentary featuring some of the world's oldest people, I knew that counting on them to do publicity tours three years later might not be too realistic. The recent deaths of Jack LaLanne, age 96, and Britain's oldest working man Buster Martin, age 104, remind us that, for the time being, we can't live forever. I'm so grateful for the time they spent with me, and for the life lessons they gave which I'm able to share with audiences through the film. On the surface, these men were polar opposites -- Jack was a fitness and health food evangelist, Buster was an enthusiastic drinker of beer and unrepentant chain-smoker. At their core, however, they shared an unwavering drive to live life to the fullest, in the moment, each on his own terms.

There was something exquisitely moving about being in the presence of all my elderly subjects. These were people who'd lived through turbulent times and faced great adversity, yet no matter where they were or what their background, they all shared remarkable grace, humor, and resilience. My previous films examined the mysteries of identity, love, and family. Making How To Live Forever allowed me to connect those lessons to the ultimate question of what makes a life truly meaningful.

Biographies

MARK WEXLER (Producer/Director)

Mark S. Wexler is one of America's preeminent documentary filmmakers and an award-winning photojournalist. He is known for producing films that present vivid characters and complex relationships with honesty and wit.

Wexler's first film, Seeing Double, is a wry and engaging short about identical twins made for National Geographic television. Set during the annual "Twins Days" festival in Twinsburg, Ohio it takes us on a memorable journey into the odd and oddly endearing culture of twinhood, showing the curious, even eerie bond that links twins throughout their lives. Rich with humorous and revealing interviews, Seeing Double celebrates life, love and the indefinable mysteries of family and identity.

Next, he made Me & My Matchmaker, a personal portrait of an irrepressible Jewish matchmaker in Chicago. Originally conceived as an exploration of contemporary American romance, the film takes an unexpected turn when the matchmaker draws Mark into her world - and his own film - complicating their relationship as well as Wexler's own love life. Film critic Roger Ebert hailed it as "amazing and touching."

Mark's passion for aviation led to his third film, Air Force One, which aired as a one-hour primetime PBS - National Geographic special in July 2001 to some of the highest ratings ever for a documentary. After five years of negotiation, Mark became the first filmmaker granted full access behind the scenes to the world's most famous and secret airplane. The film weaves together the story of the technological marvel of the "Flying White House" with the history of the President's personal plane. It includes original interviews with both Presidents Bush as well as Presidents Carter and Clinton.

In 2005, THINKFilm released Wexler's critically acclaimed feature documentary, Tell Them Who You Are, an unflinching exploration of the tumultuous relationship with his father, legendary filmmaker and two-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler. Tell Them Who You Are delicately tempers raw emotion with real humor to yield a film of exceptional truthfulness and depth. It won a place on the Associated Press' list of the Top 10 Films of 2005 and Roger Ebert's Top 10 Documentaries of the year as well as high praise from The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone and others.

Mark's latest film, How to Live Forever, chronicles his curious, lively, and sometimes troubling enquiry into how he might delay or even defeat death. Wexler contrasts the wisdom of centenarians, advice of longevity experts, and tips from exercise gurus against the surprising insights of funeral directors and food critics. Begun as a study in life-extension, the film evolves into a thought-provoking examination of what truly gives life meaning.

Mark has enjoyed a long career as a distinguished photojournalist. His work, prized for its quirky perspective, has appeared in such publications as Time, Life, National Geographic, Smithsonian and The New York Times. He is the recipient of numerous World Press Awards for Outstanding Photojournalism.

Wexler has covered assignments in over seventy countries in the last twenty years. In addition to periodicals, Mark has been a major contributor to eight volumes in the popular Day in the Life book series, covering such diverse locations as Spain, Hawaii, Russia, Japan, Italy, Ireland and America. His work is also prominently featured in the books The Power to Heal, Passage to Vietnam and 24 Hours in Cyberspace. His own book, Hollywood, was published by Random House. Mark's photographs have been exhibited in galleries throughout the world, including the International Center of Photography in New York. Wexler's longstanding interest in aviation and travel has led him to spend much of his life on planes - USA Today called him a "mileage maniac" and The Washington Post referred to him as "our latter day Phineas Fogg". When not in the air, Mark enjoys swimming, drinking green tea, dinner with friends, hot towels, and a good bargain.

RAY BRADBURY

Ray Bradbury has published more than 600 short stories over a period of sixty years. He has written short stories, novels, screenplays, plays, and poetry.

His best known books are The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and in its 50th anniversary year, Fahrenheit 451.

He wrote the screenplay for Moby Dick for John Huston in 1953.

In 2005 a film was released based on his short story, A Sound of Thunder. Other films based on his stories will be forthcoming. One of these is Fahrenheit 451, written and directed by Frank Darabont.

Ray has published several new books in the past few years, including From the Dust Returned, One More For The Road, Let's All Kill Constance, The Cat's Pajamas, and a book of essays, Bradbury Speaks, as well as a huge volume of short stories, Bradbury Stories.

A novel, Farewell Summer, which is the sequel to Bradbury's classic Dandelion Wine, was published in October of 2006.

In September of 2007 his newest book NOW AND FOREVER: Somewhere a Band is Playing and Leviathan '99 was published.

2009 saw the release of We'll Always Have Paris, a new collection of short stories.

In 2001 The National Book Award was given to Bradbury for his contribution to American literature and in 2004 he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bush and the National Endowment for the Arts.

In 2007 he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation and later in the year the French Ambassador to the United States awarded Bradbury a medal naming him a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters of France. This award, given by the French Minister of Culture, is France's highest cultural award.

His contributions to architecture include creating the American Experience at the United States Pavilion at the New York World's Fair, creating the metaphors within Spaceship Earth at Disney's Epcot in Florida, and providing the blueprint for the Glendale Galleria in California. His concepts for a new mall at the corner of Hollywood and Highland influenced the Assyrian Pavilion, utilizing the fabulous set of Intolerance, which was directed by D.W. Griffith.

He lives in Los Angeles, California.

PHYLLIS DILLER

Comedienne, actress, author. Born Phyllis Ada Driver, on July 17, 1917, in Lima, Ohio. Phyllis was the only child of Frances and Perry Driver. After graduating high school, she continued her studies at Chicago's Sherwood Music Conservatory for three years before eloping with Sherwood Anderson Diller in 1939. The couple soon moved to California, where they had five children.

In 1955, while working as a journalist for the San Leandro News-Observer, Phyllis Diller appeared as a contestant on Groucho Marx's game show You Bet Your Life. Diller's memorable performance on the show sparked the advent of her national exposure. She received an offer to make her comedic debut at San Francisco's The Purple Onion Comedy Club, where she floored the audience with her dynamic one-liners and comical costumes. This success led to future bookings at New York's Blue Angel as well as an appearance on The Jack Paar Show.

In her monologues, Diller adopted the stage personality of a typical housewife and spoke of topics that affected American suburbia -- kids, pets, neighbors and even mothers-in-law. Her most notable routines were filled with anecdotes about her fictitious husband "Fang," and her numerous face-lifts. Diller's delivery was accentuated by her animated facial expressions, eccentric costumes, and overdone makeup. During performances, she would often flaunt a cigarette while laughing at her own jokes with her trademark cackle.

In 1961, Diller acquired her first minor film role, as Texas Guinan in Elia Kazan's Splendor in the Grass. She co-starred in a few low budget movies with long-time friend and fellow comedian Bob Hope including Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number (1966), Eight On the Lam (1967), and The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell (1968). Diller also made recurring appearances on Hope's annual Christmas Special (1965-94).

Diller's first stage acting appearance was in The Dark Top of the Stairs (1961). However, her most notable theatre performance was in 1970, when she replaced Carol Channing as Dolly Levi in Broadway's Hello, Dolly!. Diller would not return to the stage until 1988, when she played the vivacious Mother Superior in San Francisco's Nunsense.

In 1965, Diller ended her 26-year marriage with Sherman Anderson Diller. The two were divorced in September, and Diller hastily married Ward Donovan a month later. In the late 1960s, Diller focused her creative efforts toward television. She created two poorly received television series: the sitcom The Pruitts of Southampton (1966) and the variety show The Phyllis Diller Show (1968).

In addition to her comedic talents, Diller is both an accomplished concert pianist and author. Over the ten year period from 1972-82, under the pseudonym Dame Illya Pillya, Diller performed as a solo pianist with over 100 symphony orchestras throughout America. She has also published five bestselling books: Phyllis Diller Tells All About Fang (1963); Phyllis Diller's Housekeeping Hints (1966); Phyllis Diller's Marriage Manual (1967); The Complete Mother (1969); and The Joys of Aging and How to Avoid Them (1981).

In 1992, Diller received the American Comedy Award for Lifetime Achievement. She currently lives in California's affluent area of Brentwood, where she briefly served as the town's honorary mayor. She remains close with all of her five children and continues to take on the role of a loving mother and grandmother.

AUBREY DE GREY

Dr. Aubrey de Grey is a biomedical gerontologist based in Cambridge, UK, and is the Chief Science Officer of SENS Foundation, a California-based charity dedicated to combating the aging process. He is also Editor-in-Chief of Rejuvenation Research, the world's highest-impact peer-reviewed journal focused on intervention in aging. He received his BA and Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in 1985 and 2000 respectively. His original field was computer science, and he did research in the private sector for six years in the area of software verification before switching to biogerontology in the mid- 1990s. His research interests encompass the characterisation of all the accumulating and eventually pathogenic molecular and cellular side-effects of metabolism ("damage") that constitute mammalian aging and the design of interventions to repair and/or obviate that damage. He has developed a possibly comprehensive plan for such repair, termed Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS), which breaks aging down into seven major classes of damage and identifies detailed approaches to addressing each one. A key aspect of SENS is that it can potentially extend healthy lifespan without limit, even though these repair processes will probably never be perfect, as the repair only needs to approach perfection rapidly enough to keep the overall level of damage below pathogenic levels. Dr. de Grey has termed this required rate of improvement of repair therapies "longevity escape velocity". Dr. de Grey is a Fellow of both the Gerontological Society of America and the American Aging Association, and sits on the editorial and scientific advisory boards of numerous journals and organizations.

PICO IYER

Pico Iyer is the author of two novels and seven works of non-fiction, including the best-selling Video Night in Kathmandu, The Lady and the Monk, The Global Soul and The Open Road (about his 35 years of talks and travels with the Fourteenth Dalai Lama). An essayist for Time since 1986, he writes often for The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, Harper's and magazines around the world.

RAY KURZWEIL

Ray Kurzweil was the principal developer of the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition. In 1999, Kurzweil received the National Medal of Technology, the nation's highest honor in technology, from President Clinton in a White House ceremony, and in 2002, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Kurzweil has received nineteen honorary Doctorates and honors from three U.S. presidents. His book, The Singularity is Near, was a New York Times best seller, and has been the #1 book on Amazon in both science and philosophy.

JACK LALANNE

Fitness pioneer, Jack LaLanne, known to all as the Godfather Of Fitness, was born September 26, 1914 in San Francisco. During his childhood days, he was addicted to sugar and junk foods. At age 15, young Jack heard a speech on health and nutrition that had such a powerful influence, it motivated him to focus on his diet and exercise habits. Jack was truly a pioneer, as he studied Henry Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body and concentrated on bodybuilding and weightlifting, something virtually unheard of in the 1930s. In 1936 LaLanne opened the first modern health spa in Oakland, CA, earned a Chiropractic degree, and dedicated his life to encouraging people to better themselves through exercise and fitness. LaLanne designed the world's first leg extension machines, pulley machines using cables, and weight selectors, now a standard in the fitness industry. He has the distinction of having the first and longest-running exercise show on television lasting 34 years. Through his career, LaLanne won numerous awards including the Horatio Alger Award from the Association of Distinguished Americans, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and is in the Fitness Hall of Fame. In addition, he held the world's record for pushups and chin-ups (1000 of each), hand stand pushups and swimming from Alcatraz handcuffed and shackled on two occasions, once At age 40 and once again at age 60. Jack passed away on January 23, 2011 leaving behind a legacy of personal triumphs and fitness firsts.

BUSTER MARTIN

Buster Martin was Britain's oldest working man, an icon who believed in the life lengthening properties of putting in a hard day's work at his company, Pimlico Plumbers. And when his work day was done, there was nothing Buster liked better than a beer or two (he even had his own ale label) at his local pub. And even though in recent years, he had to go outside, the British weather never put a stop to his twenty smokes a day habit. Buster Martin was a true living legend who treated every minute of his life as a challenge, including completing the London Marathon in 2008, aged 101. On April 12, 2011 Buster finished work, had a beer, and went home. He passed away that night, age 104.

SUZANNE SOMERS

Suzanne Somers is one of America's most popular and beloved personalities. In a multifaceted career that has spanned nearly three decades, she has achieved extraordinary success as an actress, singer, comedienne, New York Times bestselling author, entrepreneur, and lecturer. Her most recent book, SEXY FOREVER: How to Fight Fat After Forty (Crown Archetype; 2010) shares the often-overlooked causes of obesity and teaches us how to restore our bodies and keep weight off -- revealing the key to weight loss that she discovered in science that no other weight-loss plan has integrated into a program like she has. Suzanne's complete program with meals, recipes, and coaching can be found at SexyForever.com.

Her first big break as the mysterious blonde driving the white Thunderbird in George Lucas' 1973 cult classic, "American Graffiti," was soon followed by her portrayal of the ditzy, yet lovable Chrissy Snow on "Three's Company," which propelled her to nationwide fame. During her five years with the show, Suzanne helped make the television sitcom one of the most highly rated in history. From 1987-89, Suzanne held the title character role in the hit series "She's the Sheriff," and starred with Patrick Duffy in the situation comedy series, "Step by Step," which ran for seven seasons from 1991-97. She also hosted her own daytime talk show, "The Suzanne Somers Show" and, from 1998-2000, was the weekly co-host of "Candid Camera." Suzanne is the recipient of two People's Choice Awards for Favorite Actress in a New Television Series in both 1978 and 1992.

Suzanne enjoys a successful career as a live performer. Her one-woman, musical autobiography, "The Blonde in the Thunderbird," debuted on Broadway in a limited engagement at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in Summer 2005.

Always exploring different avenues of self-expression, in 2010 Suzanne brought one of her most popular talks on aging and wellness to a national cinema audience with "Suzanne Somers' BREAKTHROUGH Tour," which premiered in theaters nationwide.

Suzanne has authored 20 books, including 11 New York Times bestsellers. Published in March 2004, The Sexy Years (Crown), focused on the positives of aging and understanding natural bioidentical hormone replacement and started a revolution in the way women think about their bodies and menopause. It debuted at #3 on the New York Times bestseller list, placed at #28 overall among nonfiction titles published in 2004, according to Publishers Weekly, and has sold more than 1 million copies since its publication. Ageless, Suzanne's informed and empowering book on anti-aging medicine and maintaining an optimal quality of life, released by Crown in October 2006, became an instant #1 bestseller on Amazon, a #1 New York Times bestseller, and a USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestseller in its first week on sale. BREAKTHROUGH: Eight Steps to Wellness (Crown; 2008) was an instant New York Times bestseller, and remained on that list for ten weeks, also appearing on the bestseller lists of USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, and Publishers Weekly.

Suzanne authoritatively took on a disease she's conquered herself--cancer-- in KNOCKOUT: Interviews with Doctors Who Are Curing Cancer--And How to Prevent Getting it in the First Place (Crown; 2009). KNOCKOUT debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestsellers list, remaining there for six weeks, and also appeared on the bestseller lists of USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly.

In 1997, Suzanne published Suzanne Somers' Eat Great, Lose Weight (Crown), the first in what has become a phenomenally popular series of "Somersize" books on her sensible approach to weight loss and a healthier lifestyle. This New York Times bestseller was followed by Suzanne Somers' Get Skinny on Fabulous Food (Crown; 1999). An immediate New York Times bestseller, the book was among the top fifteen nonfiction bestsellers on Publishers Weekly's 1999 hardcover list. Both titles appeared simultaneously on the New York Times bestseller list in the top two positions and were among the New York Times' and USA Today's top 100 sellers in the years they were published.

Suzanne Somers' Eat, Cheat, and Melt the Fat Away (Crown) was published in 2001 and became an instant New York Times bestseller. It also appeared on the bestseller lists of The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly. Somersize Desserts (Crown) followed later that same year. Suzanne Somers' Fast & Easy: Lose Weight the Somersize Way with Quick, Delicious Meals for the Entire Family (Crown; 2003), debuted in the #1 spot on the New York Times Advice/How-to bestseller list after just one week on sale. In November 2004, Crown published Somersize Chocolate: 30 Delicious, Guilt-Free Desserts for the Carb-Conscious Chocolate Lover. This title featured a variety of decadent treats made with Suzanne's signature product, SomerSweet, a delicious sweetener blended with natural sweet fiber to take the place of sugar. Less than one week on sale, Suzanne Somers' Slim and Sexy Forever (Crown; April 2005) became an immediate New York Times bestseller, debuting as well on the bestseller lists of The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly. There are currently more than 25 million copies of Suzanne's books in print.

Suzanne also published Keeping Secrets (Warner Books; 1988), her powerful New York Times bestselling autobiography, which chronicled her childhood as the daughter of an abusive alcoholic and the effect that had on her life. In 1998, she wrote After the Fall (Crown), its moving and inspiring sequel, which revisited her years before and after "Three's Company," and candidly explored the pain and triumph of blending families. In addition, Suzanne is the author of 365 Ways to Change Your Life, an inspirational guide of daily affirmations (Crown; 1999), and Wednesday's Children, which discusses adult survivors of abuse. Her first book, Touch Me (Workman Publishing), a lauded collection of her poems, was originally published in 1973.

A savvy businesswoman as well, Suzanne has created a highly successful and extensive branded product line available on her web site, suzannesomers.com, including food, cook's tools, beauty, fashion, jewelry, and fitness products. One of the very first entrepreneurs to understand and apply the power of infomercials and shopping on television, she introduced her Somersize food, beauty items, apparel, and personal fitness products to consumers on Home Shopping Network in 2000, quickly becoming one of HSN's biggest success stories as a top-selling, trusted brand name. After 17 recordbreaking years at HSN, Suzanne moved to ShopNBC, where she launched her line of vitamins and supplements--helping women and men maintain the nutritional balance they need for optimum health and vibrant longevity.

She is the owner of the flourishing line of ThighMaster personal fitness products (more than 10 million sold). FaceMaster, a facial toning system, was introduced to consumers in 2000. Recognizing her outstanding success and noting her as a pioneer in the electronic retailing industry, the Electronic Retailing Association presented Suzanne with its Lifetime Achievement Award in September 2005. In July 2008, she added the Suzanne Somers EZ GYM, a revolutionary portable gym, to her top-selling fitness line.

Suzanne has toured extensively with her nightclub act for the past 24 years and was named Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year in 1986. One of the most popular nightclub entertainers in the nation, Suzanne still appears in Las Vegas, as well as Monte Carlo, Atlantic City, and Lake Tahoe.

Suzanne's most recent telefilm work includes the lead role in the USA Network movie, "No Laughing Matter." Playing an alcoholic, single mother, Suzanne did a great deal of research and drew on her own painful childhood to bring startling realism to the part. She starred in "Devil's Food," a 1996 Lifetime made-for-television movie, and produced and starred in "Seduced by Evil" for the USA Network in 1994, "Exclusive" for ABC-TV in 1992, as well as "Keeping Secrets," an adaptation of her autobiography for ABC-TV. Her television and feature film credits also include "Happily Ever After," "Nothing Personal," "Sky Heist," "Yesterday's Hero," "Serial Mom," "Hearts of Stone," "The Darklings," and "Say It Isn't So."

In January 2003, the entertainment community recognized Suzanne with her own Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was the 1999 Hall of Fame Inductee of Books for a Better Life, which honors the year's most outstanding books in the self-improvement genre. In 2000, Suzanne received the Rick Weiss Humanitarian Award for her ongoing fundraising efforts on behalf of AIDS-related projects. Suzanne's other honors include the 1997 KNX Woman of the Year award for her contribution to the research, education, and prevention of alcoholism in families; the first R. Brinkley Smithers Award, established in 1995 to honor one of the chief architects in the field of alcoholism research; and the 1993 "Mother of the Year" award given by The National Mother's Day Committee in New York City.

A knowledgeable and dedicated health care advocate, Suzanne received the Humanitarian Award from the National Council on Alcoholism, and the Distinguished Achievement in Public Service Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She has served two terms as National Honorary Chairperson of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics and, most notably, was the first layperson named to the American Psychiatric Foundation's board of directors. Suzanne was also selected to serve on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Advisory Council to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

A sought-after commencement speaker and lecturer on the topic of aging, achieving peak health, and motivation, Suzanne has spoken to audiences of up to 50,000 people. She is the founder of the Suzanne Somers Institute for the Effects of Addiction on Families.

Suzanne and her husband Alan Hamel, whom she first met in 1968, are something of an anomaly in Hollywood, having enjoyed an enduring relationship for 41 years. Together, they have two sons, a daughter, and six grandchildren. They live in Los Angeles, where they oversee a manufacturing and marketing company that annually produces more than 1,000 products that are marketed globally.

 

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