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Coincidence in Paradise

A Film by Matthias Von Gunten

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Why on Earth are there Human Beings? The fact that we exist has always been taken for granted, and, thanks to Darwin, we also know that in all probability we are descendants of some ape-like creature. But how did this descent, from ape to man, come about? Are there any signs that Nature intended it this way?

COINCIDENCE IN PARADISE investigates these and other fascinating questions through interviews with world-renowned scientists, and captures their work-in-progress with stunning cinematography.

The film presents, in the field, some of the most influential scholars working today, including:

* Kamoya Kimeu, the world's most successful fossil collector, and paleontologist Dr. Meave Leakey - responsible for one of the most significant discoveries about the origins of humankind, the oldest known bi-pedal ancestor.

* Prof. Tim White (UC Berkeley), the paleontologist whose work in Ethiopia focuses on the earliest traces of humankind. White's discovery, Ardipithecus Ramidus (4,400,000 years old) is documented on film, for the first time, in COINCIDENCE IN PARADISE.

* John Gurche, an anthropologist and artist, famous for his realistic sculptures of early man.

* Dr. Christophe Boesch, a Swiss biologist who has been observing chimpanzees in their natural African habitat for 18 years.

* Elisabeth Vrba, an evolutionist and professor of paleontology, who in the Okavango Delta of Botswana studies the environment to try and establish the probable conditions that existed at the time of early man's creation.

From fossil rich desert gorges to laboratories, from primeval rain forests to the sculptor's studio, COINCIDENCE IN PARADISE delves into the million year mystery of our origins, seeking the latest discoveries that may answer the question - What exactly was it that first initiated our genesis, our species' actual birth?

"This fine film [presents] a very comprehensive story of the origins of humankind. The overall effort is excellent, and it is with considerable enthusiasm that I recommend this compelling documentary."- John Mathew, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, for 'Science Books and Films'

"Excellent! COINCIDENCE IN PARADISE succeeds both as a film and as an educational tool…Adeptly introduces the wide range of evidence that contributes to an improved understanding of our origins. The conversational style that is achieved through direct interaction with the researchers in their working environments makes this film more engaging than others…Von Gunten has made an interesting and highly accessible film that will satisfy educators and students alike. Thus, two thumbs up for COINCIDENCE IN PARADISE."- Journal of Human Evolution

"Succeeds admirably in its exploration of the evolutionary roots of humans [and does] an excellent job of communicating the excitement of scientific research. COINCIDENCE IN PARADISE is well worth viewing and would be an excellent resource for graduate seminars and upper-year undergraduate courses in anthropology and palaeontology. It is well edited, the photography is very good, and the sound quality is excellent. For those seeking a thoughtful, meditative treatment of human evolution, this film will serve very well."- Palaeontologia Electronica

"What is interesting about this film is that it interviews these famous scientists in their work environments, giving you insight into their research and thought processes. The viewer also learns an incredible amount about the early origins of humans and how the research is conducted. The interviewees are interesting and animated about their subjects, making the film more interesting for the viewer. Well photographed and edited, this film would be an asset to an upper-level college anthropology course studying human origins. Recommended."- Educational Media Reviews Online

2000 Award of Excellence, Society for Visual Anthropology
2000 American Anthropological Association Film Festival
2001 Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival

88 minutes / Color
Release: 2000
Copyright: 1999

For colleges, universities, government agencies, hospitals and corporations

This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

Subject areas:
Africa, Anthropology, Biology, Environment, Evolution, Geography, Nature, Physical Anthropology, Science

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