Michael Ward on Friday, May 17

HUMAN NATURE   Director: Adam Bolt Written by: Adam Bolt, Regina Sobel

Director: Adam Bolt
Written by: Adam Bolt, Regina Sobel


“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” - 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Human Nature is a somewhat alarming, exhilarating, occasionally frightening, scientifically-dense documentary that keeps the scripture referenced above close at hand. As someone fairly plugged into the daily news cycle, it somehow slipped past me the groundbreaking innovation director Adam Bolt shares in his latest film.

In 2015, scientists starting making breakthroughs and developed CRISPR. The CRISPR technology discovers genetic code which can be changed or altered, essentially repairing or fixing an organism’s infected DNA. The origins of the work date back to the late 1980s, but biochemists unlocked a huge piece to the puzzle in recent years, opening up the floodgates on studying this scientific discovery.

On the one hand, this is astonishing news. The opportunities for what CRISPR can do are immense and far-reaching. If genetic manipulation can be achieved, then not only can we begin finding new ways to fight disease and perhaps build immunity, but we can also extend lifespans, theoretically improve the quality of life for millions of people, and alter the evolutionary process.

And that last item…that last item is where Human Nature goes from being a well-made, but dry college lecture-style documentary and turns into something more probing, inquisitive, and questioning.

Clearly enamored with the opportunities CRISPR offers, Bolt and co-writer Regina Sobel begin to have a vast array of scientists, experts, and pundits ponder what this means for human beings moving forward.

Ethical questions linger, theories abound, but Bolt lets it all hang in the air, wondering along with the viewer what we should or should not do with this new genetic discovery still in its relative infancy.

Some will not be able to hang with Human Nature, as elements of the film are very dense and require full attention and focus. I struggled at times making sense of the depth and scope of the work as presented.

But it becomes very clear though that something significant is in the hands of geneticists, biochemists, and scientists. When Bolt and Sobel begin asking the questions which need asking, Human Nature proves to be a film that keeps you thinking long after the film fades to black.

Just because we can, does that really mean we should?

Human Nature is playing May 17, May 25, and May 27 at the 2019 Seattle International Film Festival
(Purchase tickets now)