Pioneers series

SUPPORT: Centre for Quantum Technologies, National University of Singapore

The one and only film project devoted to the most unorthodox contemporary thinkers who have had the courage to challenge current paradigms.
The emotions of discovering and stress-testing new theories; the passion which prompts one to go against the expectations of others, against the “publish or die” model; the joys and sorrows of exploring frontiers of the known and the unknown – this is what Pioneers is about.

This ongoing project is produced by POLITYKA weekly, a leading, European opinion-forming magazine, and supported by Centre for Quantum Technologies, National University of Singapore.

More about the process of filming.
Here’s a handy brochure about the series.

Pioneers, At the Edge of Understanding



Season II: Artur Ekert – A Model Kit

In 1992 ARTUR EKERT (b. 1961), a young maverick mathematician and physicist, invented a unique kind of quantum cryptography.

Being a recipe for the perfect cipher, it also questioned some common truths about the nature of free will and randomness.

Despite being intensively researched the idea remains remarkably challenging and elusive – as does its inventor. This rare movie presents Artur Ekert in his ad hoc habitat, in Singapore.

Duration: 55:00


Season II: Charles H. Bennett – A Drinking Bird Mystery

CHARLES H. BENNETT (b. 1943) is an American thinker, physicist and information theory pioneer. But that you can discover on the Internet.

In this installment of Pioneers doc series Bennett will tell a story of the ambiguity of the past, and the complexity of the present.

Strolling in the autumnal woods of Massachusetts we shall follow some tiny events like waves shaping the surface of a forest lake and ask whether they’re doomed to be entirely forgotten – or not.

Duration: 61:24


Season II: Freeman Dyson – Space Dreamer

FREEMAN DYSON (b. 1923) is a legendary science figure who has influenced countless fields of knowledge.

He is also known for his optimistically subversive views on key world problems. Dyson has been involved in all the major nuclear disarmament initiatives.

He has also been a lone proponent of long-term deep space colonization and sailing to the moons of Jupiter, the subjects of this movie.

Duration: 46:49


Season I: Roy Glauber – The Bomb That Shook the World

On July 16, 1945, in the New Mexico desert, in a ash “brighter than a thousand suns” the post-war order was established.

The Trinity test had a handful of eyewitnesses and of those just a few took part in the creation of the weapons which less than a month later would destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

One of them was ROY GLAUBER (b. 1925). The film presents his extraordinary and deeply personal account of those crucial events.

Duration: 47:12 min


Season I: Daniel C. Dennett – Do Lobsters Have a Free Will?

DANIEL C. DENNETT (b. 1942) from Tufts University is one of the key philosophers today and a great reformer in the field of knowledge.

For nearly half a century he has been searching for the answer to the following questions: What is consciousness? What is free will? Is faith a natural phenomenon?

The film is a recording of a one-to-one meeting with the philosopher at his home in northern New England.

The music for this episode was written by Scott Johnson, a New York City based critically acclaimed American composer.

Duration: 45:42 min


Season I: Gregory Chaitin – Against Method

GREGORY CHAITIN (b. 1947) is a mathematician, an expert in complexity. Already as a young prodigy he contributed greatly to the philosophy of mathematics and computer science.

Chaitin states that although there are truths in science that cannot be proven, there is reason for huge optimism. He sketches a theory of the source of beauty and creativity in nature.

We’ll be meeting Chaitin at the tiny Brazilian island of Paqueta, his philosophical retreat.

Duration: 45:51 min


Season I: Julian Barbour – Bottom’s Dream

JULIAN BARBOUR (b. 1937) is an independent physicist. For 40 years he has been removing what he believes to be unnecessary terms from the physics toolbox.

One of them is time, which, according to Barbour, is an illusion. In recent years, he has been working on a theory explaining where our sense of the passage of time and its direction comes from.

We meet Barbour at his home in a village near Oxford.

Duration: 45:42 min


Four first episodes of the series were published on DVD in  2015 and 2016, and are available at POLITYKA’s web store (all regions).

The first season of Pioneers was presented by the Polish Public Television (Telewizja Polska, TVP).

All of the episodes will be soon available globally as a part of Filmaker Library presented by the Alexander Street publishing house.

Pioneers were also screened at/during:

  • City and Garden Festival, Warsaw,
  • Science Festival, Warsaw,
  • Copernicus Festival, Cracow,
  • Academia Film Olomouc,
  • Museo de las Ciencias, UNAM, Mexico City,
  • Docs+Science, Cracow Film Festival,
  • ФАНK Science Film Festival, Moscow.


Eventually the series will consist of 12-16 documentary films. Their completion is planned for the next several years.