DNA Dreams

SHOT BYJean Counet

DIRECTORBregtje van der Haak



What if we could identify the genes that contain information about human intelligence? Would a brave new world of improved human beings be waiting for us? This new world is now in the making in China’s Pearl River Delta.
The documentary DNA Dreams delves into the heart of bio-science in China, exploring the lifestyles and beliefs of a new generation of young scientists in Shenzhen.

The film follows 18-year old Zhao Bowen, high school drop-out and leader of the Cognitive Genomics Group at BGI, who uses the most powerful DNA sequencers in the world to analyze the DNA of 2,000 highly gifted children and compare it to their average peers. His goal: to find the genetic basis of intelligence.

While European and American scientists have been struggling with ethical guidelines and budget cuts for years, the Chinese government taps enthusiastically into the new opportunities provided by the fusion of biology and information technology. Genomics center BGI has recently become the leading DNA facility in the world. It now employs 4,000 bio-informaticians with an average age of 24, producing numerous patents and publications in leading magazines like Science and Nature.

Directed by 25-year old Lin Lin, BGI’s cloning lab and experimental farm outside of Shenzhen produces cloned pigs at an unprecedented scale. Deeply in love with her work, Lin Lin feels ‘like a mother’ to the piglets that are conceived under her microscope. Some have been manipulated genetically to shine a fluorescent light in the dark

The documentary shows us some traces of a future that is already here and takes a closer look at ‘data driven science’ as a fundamental shift in the global production of knowledge. Are we entering a new zone, where the code of life has been deciphered and life is no longer left to chance?

VPRO 2013
Director: Bregtje van der Haak
Cinematography: Jean Counet
Sound: Joris van Ballegoijen
Editing: Maasja Ooms and Patrick Minks
Research: Anne van Kessel
Production: Brigit Dopheide
Commissioning editors: Barbara Truyen and David Kleijwegt
55′ HD video

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