By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood October 18, 2013 at 3:45PM
Sundance Selects is acquiring North American rights to Michel Gondry’s animated conversation with philosopher and linguist Noam Chomsky "Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?" before it closes the DOC NYC festival.
This animated documentary on the life and work of the controversial MIT philosophy and linguistics professor and political activist is directed by Gondry ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "The Science of Sleep") and produced by Georges Bermann, Gondry, Raffi Adlan and Julie Fong. In the film Gondry conducts long complicated talks with Chomsky accompanied by Gondry's own illustrations.
An early teaser trailer is here. Gondry described the long-in-the-works film before an MIT preview last February (via the Animated Matters):
"My conversations with Professor Chomsky were lively, sometime complex, always very human. Through my illustrations, we follow the winding path of my halting and incomplete understanding. Noam is often patient, sometime less so. The trail always follows unexpected bends. The process and logic of Noam's stream of ideas have determined the transitions and evolution of my drawings. The concept of 'animated documentary' finds a perfect justification here.
At the heart of the conversation, we encounter Noam's theory of the emergence of language. Listening to Noam discuss this topic made we wonder what it would have been like to meet the astronomer Edwin Hubble and listen to him talk about the red shift he observed from distant galaxies and how it led to the theory of the big bang. Maybe that is a weak comparison, but it is another way of simply saying I felt privileged to have this dialogue.
In the end, what will stay the most with me in these discussions is Noam Chomsky's humanity, the way he respects people's different ways of life, their beliefs – and, above all, the way he often includes his wife, Carol Chomsky, in the conversations, and in some way keeps her alive and next to him."
"This film is another genius creation from Michel Gondry," says Jonathan Sehring, President of Sundance Selects, a sister division to IFC Films, "whose collaboration with the legendary Noam Chomsky has resulted a film that is both intellectually challenging and creatively brilliant. Chomsky has never discussed his work in such a unique and memorable way.”