Fixed: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement

Exploring disability and the promise and perils of human enhancement technologies.
by
Year Released
2013
Film Length(s)
58 mins
Closed captioning available Audio description available
Remote video URL

Introduction

From botox to bionic limbs, the human body is more “upgradeable” than ever. But how much of it can we alter and still be human? What do we gain or lose in the process? Award-winning documentary, Fixed: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement, explores the social impact of human biotechnologies. Haunting and humorous, poignant and political, Fixed rethinks "disability" and "normalcy" by exploring technologies that promise to change our bodies and minds forever.

* Winner of 3 festival awards: “Best of the Festival" at the Superfest International Disability Film Festival, “Harris Jury Prize for Best Film” at the ReelAbilities Film Festival and “Best Feature Documentary” at the Picture This...International Disability Film Festival.

* Winner of “Top 10 DVDs of the year” by School Library Journal

* Awarded 3 1/2 stars by Video Librarian

* Highly successful American Public Television broadcast run on PBS stations around the country, with over 4,000 telecasts between 2015-2018, reaching 94% of the country, making the film available to over 255 million viewers!

Featured review

Awarded "Top 10 DVD of the Year" The thoughtful and probing Fixed: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement (New Day Films; Gr 9 Up) challenges viewers' ideas of what it means to be physically fit, as well as what it means to be human, by tackling head-on the assumptions of ableism. The documentary deals with the history of disability rights up to the 21st century, with bionic arms and other enhancements becoming more common. An excellent means to provoke discussion in biology and ethics classes.
Kent Turner
School Library Journal

Synopsis

***Please note: only US orders go through New Day Films. For orders outside of the U.S., please visit: http://www.fixedthemovie.com/shop/

There is a growing buzz around the potential for science and technology to create significant "human enhancement" applications, such as bionic limbs, improved memory or cognition, or the ability to choose specific characteristics for our offspring. The possibilities stir the imagination and excitement of many, while for others the rhetoric and current research into human enhancement signals alarms of a new eugenics. And yet, for most non-scientists, this sounds like the realm of science fiction, a world awash in mystery and misunderstanding.

Featuring disability studies scholar Dominika Bednarska; disability justice educator Patty Berne; exoskeleton test pilot Fernanda Castelo; bionics engineer Hugh Herr; NPR radio host John Hockenberry; biochemist and ability studies scholar Gregor Wolbring; robot scientist Rodney Brooks; futurist Jamais Cascio; bioethicist and policy advocate Marcy Darnovsky; brain-computer interface study participant Tim Hemmes; philosophy professor Cressida Heyes; transhumanist James Hughes; reproductive rights advocate Sujatha Jesudason; disability lawyer Silvia Yee.

With cameo performances by some of the world’s leading integrated dance companies, featuring disabled and non-disabled dancers and artists, including the Anjali Dance Company, Antoine Hunter (of Sins Invalid and Urban Jazz Dance Company), AXIS, Candoco, Dancing Wheels, GIMP, Kounterclockwise, Lisa Bufano, Marc Brew, Remix Dance Company, and Sue Austin/Freewheeling.

Through a dynamic mix of verité, dance, archival and interview footage, Fixed challenges notions of normal, the body and what it means fundamentally to be human in the 21st century.

Fixed: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement is an essential teaching and research tool for:

* Science & Technology Studies* Disability Studies* Sociology/ American Studies/ Community Studies* Anthropology/ Medical Humanities* Law / Legal studies/ Medical Ethics/ Bioethics* Gender/ Feminist Studies* Psychology/ Counseling Programs* History (Eugenics in the U.S.)* Social Welfare/ Social Work* Bioengineering/ Genetics/ Neuroscience* Engineering / Biomechatronics* Public Health / Public Policy* Environmental & Urban design / Architecture* Medical schools / Prosthetic, Orthotic, Physical therapy & Rehabilitation programs* Dance/Performance studies

Key concepts include: ableism; access; adaptive technology; bio-engineering; bioethics; biomechatronics; bionics; brain-machine interfaces; differing frameworks of understanding disability; disability arts and culture; emerging human enhancement technologies; exoskeletons; eugenics; genetics; health; humans 2.0; innovation; neuro-enhancement; performance enhancing drugs / smart drugs; prenatal screening; science; technology; transhumanism and more.

Special features includes: Spanish, Portuguese, French, and English descriptive subtitles; closed captions in English; three audio options: 5.1 surround sound; stereo; and stereo sound. DVDs only have audio description.

[***Please note: only US orders go through New Day Films. For orders outside of the U.S., please visit: https://www.fixedthemovie.com/#order/ ]

Reviews

✮✮✮½ stars, Video Librarian"Filmmaker Regan Brashear's remarkable documentary focuses on the intersection of disability and science. We often hear about various achievements in helping people with disabilities through prosthetics, brain implants, eye implants, and drug therapies, but Fixed argues that the real cutting edge in these fields is not approximating normalcy but rather in extending human capability. State-of-the-art leg prosthetics, for example, can make someone stronger and faster, while bionic arms with robotic capabilities can do more than human arms. Memory can also be enhanced, while computers can be controlled by a person's thoughts. Fixed introduces viewers to the world of the extra-abled, or trans-humans, along the way exploring some of the ethical and philosophical quandaries that are accompanying progress. While various advocates for human enhancement are interviewed here, there are equally strong points-of-view that there is nothing wrong with accepting a disability and living with it. Others foresee a time when a rat race for extra-abilities overtakes more traditional advocacy for issues such as access to buildings. Still others anticipate a wide range of people pursuing extra-abilities in order to get an edge on the job or in school. Debates will carry on, but Fixed offers a powerful introduction to this provocative subject. Highly recommended.
T. Keogh
Video Librarian
For those unfamiliar with either disability studies or enhancement, Fixed remains a highly entertaining, as well as visually and intellectually stimulating presentation, making it ideal as introductory material for classroom use. As a way of visualizing and personalizing a difficult, multi-faceted debate, it is highly recommended both to academics and the general public.
Dr. Stevienna de Saille
University of Sheffield, Journal of Responsible Innovation
The greatest paradox of cutting edge technologies is their potential to help and hurt humanity. Fixed is a fixture on my syllabus precisely because it allows viewers to wrestle with this paradox in a thoughtful and grounded way. Without fail, my students draw upon the film again and again throughout the semester, in class discussions, reading responses, and final papers, connecting its themes to course texts and contemporary events. I could not ask for more from a teaching tool!
Ruha Benjamin
Princeton University, author of People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier
Fixed brilliantly places the voices of disability, queer, and critical race scholars and social justice advocates who would have us pay attention to inequality and discrimination and common humanity next to the voices of transhumanists and prosthetic and enhancement enthusiasts who believe that their work portends a desirable more than human future in a way that does justice to each position. This is exactly the kind of conversation that all of our students should be exposed to as we navigate a world of new technologies. Highly recommended for classes in Sociology, Science & Technology Studies, Anthropology, Gender and Women's Studies, and American Studies.
Charis Thompson
Chancellor's Professor & Chair of Women's & Gender Studies at UC Berkeley
The film marked an absolutely pivotal moment in my own students' understanding of the stakes of enhancement, as well as disability and embodiment. We found it engaging and enchanting.
Tammy Berberi
President of the Society for Disability Studies & Director of the Honors Program, University of Minnesota, Morris
I screened Fixed in a disability studies-focused course I co-taught this past semester... The students absolutely loved the film; they found it compelling and complicated, and it helped transform their understandings about bodies, disability, technology, ethics, economic justice, disability rights, etc. I *highly* recommend it.
Joan M. Ostrove
Professor, Department of Psychology, Macalester College
Fixed poses thoughtful, unsettling, compelling and complicated questions to students and educators in an engaging way. Any educator who wants to equip their students with knowledge and skills to think creatively and deeply about the issues of bioethics, justice and emerging technologies should integrate this film into their Humanities or Science curriculum.
Eran DeSilva
Director of Faculty Professional Development and Social Studies Teacher, Notre Dame High School
This film is extremely important and will be very valuable for faculty from dozens of different disciplines from the biological sciences to disability studies to the humanities and social sciences, precisely because it confronts one of the central issues of our time: how to make sense of variations among human beings and how to make sense of our capacity for radical technological innovation that will change our entire futures.
Clark Miller
Chair, PhD Program, Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology, & Associate Director, Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes, ASU
An authoritative exposé on the use of technology in the quest for physical perfection.
Fariba Houman
Director, Human Research Protections Program, Mass. Eye and Ear Hospital
An ethical and philisophical mind-bender...
CPH:DOX Copenhagen International Documentary FIlm Festival
CPH:DOX Copenhagen International Documentary FIlm Festival
Accessible, balanced…there is something entirely new here to help students stretch their thinking. It is perfect for the classroom.
Stacey Wickware
U.S. History and Medical Ethics teacher, Dozier-Libbey Medical High School
Fascinating, humane, and provocative reframing of conceptions of 'normal' bodies and 'disability.
Gina Maranto
Professor, Ecosystem and Science Policy, University of Miami
Gr 9 Up – The tone is set from the opening sequence, as a woman in a wheelchair in scuba diving gear navigates gently through an underwater reef, her hair and the air bubbles trailing hypnotically upward. Fixed explores the science and ethics of enhancements, from therapeutic restorations that allow a father to kick a ball with his children, a paralyzed man to mentally direct a robotic arm to hold his partner's hand, to the benefits anticipated by transhumanists, who embrace technology to extend mental and physical abilities beyond what is today defined as normal. The men and women interviewed are thoughtful, deeply committed, and well spoken as they present their points of view,.... The film addresses the economic aspects of who benefits from enhancement technology, the issues arising when parents can select genetic traits in offspring, and the degree to which society is responsible for designing a world that's accessible for everyone. (The film incorporates lilting dance segments by artists of with a variety of mental and physical differences.) In a non-judgmental way, it touches upon many thoughtful questions germane to almost any subject, and would be particularly well suited to classes in biology, robotics, ethics, counseling, and leadership. Director Regan Pretlow Brashear gives viewers much to consider and discuss.
Maggie Knapp
School Library Journal
Fixed: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement is a rare combination of balance, passion, and erudition. What sets this film apart is that it gives space to both sides of an important discussion, allowing protagonists intimately involved with the consequences of contemporary technology as it relates to different bodies to have their say, while never letting go of the director's point of view. From now on, I will use Fixed in my classes. Once you see it, you will, too.
Kenny Fries
author of The History of My Shoes and the Evolution of Darwin's Theory; Faculty, MFA in Creative Writing Program, Goddard College
As we bid good riddance to outdated, stigmatizing and controversial disability awareness programming such as 'disability etiquette', disability simulations, and 'cripspirational' speakers, this documentary is a breath of fresh air. Independent filmmaker Regan Brashear goes beyond the blurred lines of ability/disability, biology/technology and advantage/disadvantage to critically explore the flow above, below, and beyond the slashes of our familiar false binaries. Posing the important questions of 'Where does disability live?' and 'Who gets to decide?', the film offers input from scholars, scientists, social justice activists, creators and end-users of cutting-edge technologies and more to explore new and changing ways of being human in the world. An opportunity to transform your stale campus disability awareness programming – even better with opportunities for Q&A with director Regan Brashear!
Margaret M. Camp
MEd, Director of Disability Services, ADA Coordinator, USC Upstate
Our class focuses on the ethical dimensions of new biotechnologies and the ways these biotechnologies are challenging our established ideas of what it means to be human. Fixed was, clearly, a perfect fit. What I—and I think my students—found most valuable about the film was its introduction of the perspectives of disabled individuals. Disability is too often overlooked in the grandiose discussions of human enhancement. Fixed provided my students with new, critical approaches for questioning what normal means and what aspirations drive our desire to be super-human. Moreover, it did so in a way that really opened up the conversation and invited them to identify with this new perspective as one very valid perspective among diverse others. Because they weren't being told what to think, they were far more willing to re-evaluate their own assumptions.... Having Regan join our class discussion was an excellent precursor to my students seeing the film. Regan was able to lay out the key questions of the film in ways that helped them to begin their own processes of self-inquiry before the film continued that important work. Regan brought the key figures in the film to life for my students, helping them to appreciate the unique backgrounds that have contributed to their diverse perspectives. The students were also fascinated by the filmmaking process itself and Regan's own story of bringing the film into being. Having these insights made my students even more open to, and invested in, the film and its message.
Erin Gentry Lamb
Director, Center for Literature and Medicine, Hiram College
Fixed is a brilliant look at the intersection of the disability experience and art, technology and societal perceptions. It seamlessly weaves significant discussions about disability together in a way that is accessible to everyone, from school-age students to university scholars. It also presents an important challenge to older, discriminatory ways of thinking about disability. It should be seen by one and all.
Beth Haller
author of Representing Disability in an Ableist World; Journalism/New Media professor at Towson University, Maryland

Awards and Screenings

Harris Jury Prize for Best Film, ReelAbilities Film Festival, 2015
Best Feature Documentary, Picture This Film Festival, 2014
Keynote at Pacific Rim Conference on Disability and Diversity, 2015
Keynote at the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Association Annual Conference, 2014
Keynote at 2nd Annual Conference on Governance of Emerging Technologies: Law, Policy, and Ethics, 2014
Exploratorium, 2014
Keynote at Future Past: Disability, Eugenics & Brave New Worlds, SFSU, 2013
Academia Film Olomouc, 2014
Institute for the Future Ten Year Retreat, 2014
NY Reel Abilities Film Festival , 2014
Ethnografilm Festival, Paris, 2014
Reel Work May Day Labor Film Festival, 2014
Keynote at Society for the Study of Nanoscience & Emerging Technologies, Northeastern , 2013
United Nations Association Film Festival, 2013
Cyborg Ethics Film Festival, Edinburgh, 2013

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Audio Description
  • Closed Captioning
  • Subtitles
  • Transcript

Subtitle/Caption Languages

  • English
  • French
  • Spanish

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

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