SXSW news as PBS will offer the first-ever autobiographical documentary about physicist Stephen Hawking, called Hawking, to air at the festival.The filmhas been accepted by SXSW as one of five “Headliner” films to be featured at its film festival in March.
Slated to air on PBS in 2013, the film offers rare insight into Hawking’s life, past and present, aided by a stellar cast of A-list contributors and Hawking fans, including astronaut Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr., actors Jim Carrey and Benedict Cumberbatch, mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson.
Hawking features exclusive access to Hawking’s life story, told largely in his own words. It includes dramatic accounts of his life from childhood through university; intimate footage of Hawking today, including his home routine and his work life at the University of Cambridge; archival footage; and candid insights from family members, friends and colleagues. Computer-generated imagery (CGI) illustrates some of Hawking’s remarkable discoveries, such as the nature of black holes and the Big Bang Theory.
“If you had asked me 40 years ago if I ever thought I would be talking in front of a sell-out crowd and be a part of popular culture, I would have laughed,” said Hawking. “But if my getting involved in this has encouraged people to question our universe, then I am happy [to have done it].”
The film provides a close look into his daily routine, including how he travels and how he gets to work and some of his favorite pastimes — including listening to classical music. Technology and an army of caregivers allow Hawking to enjoy life, but the film also showcases more difficult aspects, such as his battle to continue communicating through his computer, a process about which he meets regularly with technology experts. In addition to the A-list contributors, interviewees include Hawking’s ex-wife, his biographer, past and current students and graduate assistants, nurses and his literary agent, among others.
“We are thrilled to bring this exclusive program about Stephen Hawking to PBS, and honored that it has been accepted for a world premiere at SXSW,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming, PBS. “HAWKING opens up a new window into his life and achievements as never before and we’re proud to be a co-producer on this film.”