THE BELIEVERS – Chicago Screening of the New Cold Fusion Documentary

Chicago Screening of The Believers from Eli Elliott on Vimeo.

The second premiere of the new Cold Fusion documentary, “The Believers” took place on Saturday, Oct. 20th as part of the Chicago International Film Festival. The night before, the film was awarded the Gold Hugo Award for Best Documentary Film of the Festival.

THE BELIEVERS focused mainly on the Martin Fleischmann – Stanley Pons story involving their announcement of Cold Fusion in 1989, and the aftermath to follow. Using this theme as a home base, the film weaved in some of the current crop of researchers, scientists, advocates and still skeptics.

We meet Edmund Storms, Robert Park, Martin Fleischmann, the assistant/grad student to Stanley Pons (Stanley declined to be interviewed), Irving Dardik, James Martinez, Eric Golab, and others.

Besides the event and aftermath of the ’89 Cold Fusion announcement, the film touches on patent issues, Hollywood’s fictional take on fusion, and ultimately the overall collision of media and science.

Having read and researched the subject of Cold Fusion for some years now, it was hard to judge or evaluate a portrait of such fitted into a 80 or so minute frame. Inevitably one will feel important aspects missing, or topics glossed over. But in the end, as a documentary which aims to tell a story, the filmmakers succeed in putting together a good film, likely turning on many people to Cold Fusion, the sordid history involved, and some of the main individuals, past and present.

The Approach.

Most seasoned Cold Fusion vets will likely have a problem with the chosen approach towards the subject matter. The filmmakers made the decision to go with the “mainstream viewpoint” established in the 90’s, now starting to seem archaic, of asking the “is it real or not” question. Many have already pointed out this viewpoint to be a purposeful slant that was perpetuated, propagated, from late ’89 into the 90’s, fueled by the usual suspects: politics, ego, greed, money, and more. I recall Melvin Miles in reference to the DOE report and their refusal to change his negative results to positive during that time even though he was now achieving positive results, saying how MIT was planning for negative results before they even wrote the paper and how politically they couldn’t have come out positive. Hence the myth of “junk science” was created. (And he later had work published showing the exact mistakes MIT made in their negative conclusions).

So it will be surprising to many, that now, after 20 years of positive published results from over 200 labs worldwide, published papers on the calorimetry mistakes at MIT, a positive light shown down from the mainstream 60 minutes news program, current companies developing prototypes with a strong push to go to market ASAP, that the real vs. non real angle would be chosen to paint the Cold Fusion picture, here in the year 2012.

As a YouTube comment pointed out for The Believers Trailer,

No belief necessary. Its now fact.

Nevertheless that was the chosen approach. Thankfully, with the very cool, calm and casual Edmund Storms frequently standing at the helm of the films pro Cold Fusion base, a convincing story is portrayed. Even a skeptic in the audience couldn’t help but describe Ed as the “fair minded man with the beard”.

The main naysayer was Robert Park, who likely came off to audience members as a legitimate voice in the discussion, though I’m not sure if the contradictions and unanswered accusations were picked up by said audience. Such as Park mentioning something to the effect that “if these guys want to question whether there is Cold Fusion then let ’em, I wouldn’t want to spend my life that way.” Yet he comes off as someone who has spent a good chunk of life engaged in trying to refute Cold Fusion, appearing in public as a naysayer, rather than residing in private to actually read the reports on CF results, something he’s apparently refused to do.

I should mention also, that the film carried a fairly heavy emotional sadness to it, mainly in respect to Martin Fleischmann; the abuse he had taken all those years in the field of his chosen livelihood, to the abuse he was now taking with Parkinsons. And of course the recent passing cements this sadness in further.

Besides Edmund, the film really shines with both James Martinez and the young high school aged Eric Gobal. These were two important figures in the film as James represented the current activism/advocate excitement of the Cold Fusion community, while Eric showed strong hope and added excitement as one who had already begun carrying the torch that Martin Fleischmann had handed off.

These two filled in some of the gap that the film left out from the absence of covering the very exciting current Cold Fusion scene, with various new companies and recent developments of LENR (just to add, a brief text update of Andrea Rossi was included at the very end). Much of which, as the filmmakers mentioned at the end of Q and A, could’ve meant at least an extra half hour tacked onto the film, and they questioned whether anyone would want to sit through more. But I believe viewers would gladly enjoy the exciting developments that Martin strongly helped inspire. And with civilization currently suffering so, any strong potential hope I feel could have been worth it; revealing just how far this has in fact currently come, and the closer than ever potential it now has to actually save the planet.

Nevertheless, as those will be some of the criticisms made, the main take away is a very engaging, very well made film (and now an “award winning” film meaning greater exposure), which included important figures as ground, and a much larger platform for further discussion. The reaction to the film overall seemed positive, though many questions I felt still hung in the air for many audience members.

I handed out ColdFusionNow stickers at the end of the screening, and unloaded several of the brand new ColdFusionNow T-shirts featuring Pons and Fleischmann at the after party screening.

Where will The Believers be showing in the future? Can you get a copy? They are awaiting word on more festivals, as well as seeing what distribution deals arise. By early next year they are looking for the film to be available for purchase. We’ll keep posted.

European Arts Community in Action for New Energy

Art by Aldo Tambellini 1961

Europe has been a leader in the arts for centuries, creating 3D perspective and ushering in the Renaissance that gave us modern science.

Europe is also a fertile region for cold fusion science, with almost every country represented by some agency-funded or independent research lab. And now, in 2012, European youth culture and the broader arts community are ramping up creative efforts to spread the meme of cold fusion and new energy science.

Writer/Blogger Daniele Passerini provided Italian scientists with a worldwide platform.
The tremendous successes of Italian scientists Andrea A. Rossi, Francesco Celani, and the historic, continuing work of Sergio Focardi, Francesco Piantelli, Vittorio Violante and their numerous talented laboratory partners, have altogether demonstrated publicly both the anomalous heat effect and reproducibility on-demand from cold fusion cells. Thanks to Mats Lewan reporting for NYTeknik and writer/blogger Daniele Passerini of 22Passi, northern Italy has become the center of the universe for E-cat and LENR watchers around the world.

But not long after the U.S. excoriated the pair, virtually kicking them out of the country for announcing a discovery that few could reproduce, the godfathers of cold fusion Drs. Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons operated a laboratory in the south of France, funded by Japanese corporation Toyota.

Today, Dr. Jean-Paul Biberian, who serves as Editor of the Journal of Condensed Matter Nuclear Science, the peer-reviewed periodical serving the cold fusion community, researches cold fusion at the University near Marseille, France [visit].

Dr. Biberian recently presented a review of research in a paper Cold Fusion [.pdf] at the 17th International Conference on Cold Fusion (ICCF-17) held recently in Daejon South Korea, and collaborated with Dr. Melvin Miles and Dr. Iraj Parchamazad on a paper titled The Possible Role of Oxides in the Fleischmann-Pons Effect [.pdf].

Jean-Paul Biberian from Fusion Froide
Now, there is a new documentary about Biberian’s research by filmmaker Jean-Yves Bilien entitled Fusion Froide Transmutations Biologiques et Autres Reflexions Sur La Science. The film is in French and for purchase, but you can watch the trailer for free. (For a Google translated site to English, go here.)

Views of Biberian in his scientific element with close-up shots of his cold fusion experimental cells, as well as the gorgeous natural landscape occupied by explorers for millennia are worth watching, even if you don’t speak French – and you just might be able to catch a few of the scientific phrases more recognizable to students of new energy.

Bilien is a filmmaker with a number of documentaries to his credit, specializing in breakthrough science. Filming Dr. Biberian appears to be his first production featuring cold fusion, and it is very professionally done; makes me wanna do better myself!

An earlier documentary on Biberian’s work by Master-Pro-documentaire bears a similar style to Jean-Yves Bilien, with slow-panning camera work and close-ups of cold fusion cells, yet also includes early French TV news broadcasts of the 1989 discovery. Watch the 30-minute L’ aventure de la Fusion Froide in French here.

Biberian has also collaborated with the broader arts community. This photo shows him working with members of the troupe who performed Fusion Froide from an arts festival several years ago.

But the arts aren’t just for scientists.

“We are the primitives of a new era.”
Aldo Tambellini The Cell Grew 1961

The upcoming Global Breakthrough Energy Movement Conference in Hilversum, Holland November 9, 10, 11 has attracted a number of speakers from the leading edge of alternative science, technology, and social sciences including Cold Fusion Radio’s James Martinez.

The GlobalBEM YouTube Channel houses submitted video statements from a few of the scheduled speakers describing the landscape of new energy research, making their vision a world unto itself.

The conference is being organized by a collective of creatives: artists, musicians, technologists, all engaged in what Wyndham Lewis, the original Vorticist of Great Britain, recognized as the truly modern art – beyond the conventional manipulation of color and sound: the manipulation of whole environments.

Follow the art, and feel the future. The “Distant Early Warning” has been sounded.

Just listen to GlobalBEM conference speaker Fernando Vosso:

And check out the citizens voice on

Cold Fusion Now!

“The Believers” test screening February 11 in Chicago, Illinois

The Believers is a new documentary on cold fusion from 137 Films described as “a work in progress” and currently in Festival Submission.

137 FilmsThere will be a test screening in Chicago, Illinois on February 11 at 12 Noon local time at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

This is the announcement from their website:

137Films The BelieversIf you’ve been waiting to see our new film, The Believers, now is your chance!

The Chicago Council on Science and Technology is presenting a work-in-progress screening of The Believers on Saturday, February 11 at noon at the Gene Siskel Film Center, and filmmakers Monica Ross and Clayton Brown will be in attendance for a Q & A session after the film.

You can attend for free by becoming a 137 Films Backer. We hope to see you on February 11!”

James Martinez, who has interviewed a dozen scientists on the topic, was filmed for the movie last year during a Ca$h Flow interview with Dr. Edmund Storms who related the then-recent news on Andrea Rossi‘s 10 kilowatt E-Cat demonstration with the quote “There will be a stampede.

The film does not appear to be on the Gene Siskel Film Center calendar, but it is posted on the Chicago Council of Science and Technology front page.

There is an RSVP required and Registration at 11AM.
$15.00 non-members / $5.00 Students. Details here.

Related Links

Science and Storytelling – 10 Questions for the Upcoming Cold Fusion Documentary The Believers by Eli Elliott May 13, 2011

Science and Storytelling – 10 Questions for the Directors of the Upcoming Cold Fusion Documentary, “THE BELIEVERS”

THE BELIEVERS is the highly anticipated and very timely documentary on Cold Fusion, created by 137 Films, a non profit documentary production company whose mission is to “promote science literacy through storytelling”.

Of course the past dramas and ongoing sagas of Cold Fusion make for the perfect cinematic storytelling exploration. 137 Films tapped into a subject with a fascinating, controversial past, and a future which many believe, will completely change the world.

Since they began the project over 2 years ago, the excitement over Cold Fusion has rapidly grown, especially with the current Andrea Rossi E-Cat news. This makes “The Believers” a very important examination of how this technology arrived from the Pons and Fleischman of yesterday to this new found excitement of today, with all the arguments from supporters and detractors along the way.

If the massive increase in traffic and emails for the website is any indication, then the public’s hunger for wanting to learn more about Cold Fusion is present and rapidly rising. “The Believers” is landing in the right place at the right time. The filmmakers genuine desire, as seen in the interview below, for providing a balanced picture and creating a meaningful story, may make this one of the most relevant and fascinating films of the year.

I asked directors Clayton Brown and Monica Ross from 137 Films 10 questions on their upcoming documentary.

1. When is your new documentary on Cold Fusion, “The Believers”, going to be released? Any film festivals lined up?

We don’t have a release date yet. That depends on how it will be premiered and what deals we make (knock on wood). Our first film, The Atom Smashers, was acquired by the PBS show Independent Lens and we also secured home video, internet, and international distribution through a variety of different organizations. We’ve gotten more interest earlier with The Believers, so we hope we can make a similar deal for broadcast or (fingers crossed) a small theatrical release. We haven’t lined up festivals yet because we’re still working on it; we should start those plans later in the summer. Also depends on sales agents and other not particularly interesting behind-the-scenes machinations.

2. How long did it take to make the film?

We started work on The Believers in January, 2009, so it will take about 2.5 years by the time we’re done. The Atom Smashers took us four years, so we’re getting faster!

3. What inspired or excited you to take on this project? Did the surprising 2009 60 minutes episode on Cold Fusion set off a light bulb at all, perhaps prompting a realization that a feature film should be devoted to this?

We started work on the film before the 60 minutes episode was aired. We were drawn to it through some historical reading we had done. Our initial attraction (and much of what drives us today) was the complicated story of Pons and Fleischman in 1989. We didn’t anticipate when we began working on the film how much attention the pursuit of cold fusion would garner twenty years later. Our interest has always been, both as a company and as the directors of this film, the strange relationship America has with science. This involves the role that media, money, politics, and personal stories play in the pursuit of knowledge. This is a very complicated story with competing interests, opposing viewpoints and personal stakes, so it immediately appealed to us as filmmakers. The 60 Minutes broadcast convinced us that this was not just a historical story but, in fact, a very timely one, with a debate that still was very current.

4. What was the general reaction/response when you told people you were making a film on Cold Fusion?

Many people said “Cold Fusion? I thought that was a hoax/debunked/dead!” We also got a lot of eye-rolling from our physicists friends, although some of them expressed interest and surprise that there are still people pursuing it. Most people believe we are making a film promoting Cold Fusion, so we have to explain to them that our film is neutral, neither promoting nor discounting it, and is in fact a film more about science and the process of science — the collision of science, ideas, the media, greed, pop-culture, and solutions to complicated problems.

5. Was it difficult finding funding or investors (if that’s the route you took for financing) due to the controversial nature of Cold Fusion technology?

We have no investors, since documentaries don’t make a great deal of money. As well, documentaries must remain neutral so we don’t accept investors who might expect a certain story to be told. Funding is always a challenge, and as always we are continually writing grants. The controversial nature of Cold Fusion hasn’t really been an issue because we are not making a documentary that promotes cold fusion, but rather tells a fascinating story that takes place in the world of science. Our mission as a company is to raise science literacy through storytelling, and this film definitely falls within that mission because it raises some complex and compelling questions about science and scientists.

6. Who are a few of the key people interviewed in the film? Where did you travel to?

We have interviewed Martin Fleischmann, Mike McKubre, Ed Storms, George Miley, Robert Parks, George Lubell, Chase Peterson, two graduate students of Stan Pons, Mike Melich, Peter Hagelstein, James Martinez, Irving Dardik, Gary Taubes, and many others, both supporters and detractors of Cold Fusion. We’ve traveled to both coasts, Salt Lake City, the midwest, and to Rome, Italy. We’ve earned some travel miles!

7. How was investigating this topic different from your last film, The Atom Smashers?

The Atom Smashers was largely centered around Fermilab, located just 40 miles from us. We spend hundreds of hours at that facility with several physicists, becoming familiar with their work and their lives. It was a story that unfolded in real time and one which we had very little control over. The Believers has a key component that occurred in the past with quite a bit of historical and archival footage, which is different. As well, the science in The Atom Smashers was very esoteric and within the realm of mainstream science. The science of Cold Fusion, on the other hand, is immediately relevant, but debated by many people. However, both involve the intersection of science, media, and culture and have fascinating characters and high stakes, which we are drawn to.

8. Was filming completed before Andrea Rossi came out with his announcement of the E-Cat device, or did you get a chance to touch on the latest news of his invention due out later this year?

Filming is still not completed, so we are in the midst of trying to integrate that development into the film. It is helpful in that it answers the question many film distributors and broadcasters have: “why this story, and why now?”

9. I’m sure you knew going in the interesting possibilities and potential realities for Cold Fusion, upon completing the film did your feelings/viewpoint change? Did your excitement for the possibilities grow?

As filmmakers telling this story, we have remained neutral as best we can. As I mentioned earlier, our intention with this film is neither to promote nor debunk Cold Fusion. Our feelings about it haven’t changed, because we feel that it is a very important story with lots to say about America’s relationship with science. Anyone who hears about the obvious benefits of Cold Fusion is hopeful about what it would mean for the world. However, as filmmakers and documentary storytellers, our mission is to remain skeptical. So it might be more accurate to say that we knew about the excitement that many people had for cold fusion when we started, but we also knew the resolute certainty many others had about its impossibility. As filmmakers the collision of those two viewpoints interests us very much.

10. You also included James Martinez in the film who studies media and the effects technology has on society. Does The Believers go into this sometimes conflicting, oftentimes infuriating intersection of culture and technology; how this incredible energy discovery’s biggest opponent seems to have been the established cultural memes of media and science?

Yes, we explore that. Ed Storms describes mainstream science as having a certain orthodoxy that is governed in many ways by physicists. Historically, there has always been a rivalry between chemistry and physics. With the announcement of Cold Fusion in 1989, two electro-chemists claimed to have made an incredible discovery in the field of nuclear energy, the arena of physicists. Some people believe the physicists reacted with particular aggression to refute such a discovery because the chemists were playing in the physicists sandbox, to paraphrase one of the subjects in our film. However, physicists to this day strongly believe that what Pons and Fleischman claim was impossible according to the laws of nature. It is telling that most of the physicists we talk to, when they hear that people are still pursuing cold fusion, blink in surprise and say “why? We debunked that 20 years ago.” Needless to say they haven’t paid any attention to more recent developments. One difficulty with this type of research is that, unlike the work we explored in The Atom Smashers, which has no patents or secrecy involved, so it’s difficult to come to a conclusion about the validity of science in the absence of readily available documentation (one of the fundamental complications of the Pons and Fleischman story). However, mainstream science often denies the importance of mavericks who challenge orthodoxy, and that fascinates us too. History is full of them: some Cold Fusion believers point to Galileo as a genius who defied the currently established “laws of nature” with a greater truth. Yet some physicists point to the legion of so-called discoveries that have proven to be mistakes. So, in short, rather than finding that intersection you mention as infuriating, we in fact find it fascinating! We hope our film generates questions and discussions on all sides and gets skeptics and believers talking to each other.

– Clayton Brown and Monica Ross, co-directors of The Believers


Here’s the trailer for THE BELIEVERS

The Believers trailer from 137 Films on Vimeo.