Strange Attractors: A Movie For Curious People

Topics: Science and Human Interest, Chaos Theory, Near Death Experience
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Funds Needed for Completion: $ 50,000.0
Estimated Completion Date: 12/01/2008

Funds raised: $ 0


A bizarre coincidence triggers a young woman's obsession with the psychologically charged letters of a Chaos Theory's pioneer - a bond between strangers follows.

What would your life look like if a stranger saw it through a year’s letters? In the mid-1980’s, physicist Rob Shaw wrote a series of important papers about chaos theory, winning a MacArthur “genius grant” fellowship and a spotlight for a prosperous career. He spent the $100, 000 per year stipend mostly on drugs, alcohol, and girlfriends and, as he likes to say, “the rest was wasted.” A collection of letters from Shaw’s freshman year at Harvard – from his father, his best friend, and the scolding Dean’s office – plopped randomly into the lap of a college student in 1999. Reading them, she found a fascinating psychological puzzle to whom she felt weirdly connected.. The by-now obsessed young woman tracks him to Venice, Italy, forty years after the letters were written. He reluctantly revisits the past. But, “I’m a dreamer,” he says, “I try to focus on the future.” The film traces this bundle of letters and the dual journeys of these intimate strangers from 1964 through the Chaos excitement to the present. We see Boston, MA, Santa Cruz, CA, Santa Fe, NM, Covington, Ohio, New York City, and Venice, Italy. Who Is Rob Shaw? Instead of an answer, the filmmaker and her subject discover the surprising depth of random encounters.



Project's Financial Needs

Hiring of editing and post-production staff and equipment, festival distribution/promotion.

Current stage of production


Estimated Completion Date



Nine years ago, when I was a sophomore at the University of California, Santa Cruz, a homeless man approached me in a bar. He handed me a bundle of letters dating from 1964 and ‘65.  The stranger gave no details, and disappeared. From this bundle of letters springs the plot of the movie: a search for the man to whom they belong, enabled by a series of strange coincidences. One of the authors of the letters later became a star in the "Near Death Experience" community, and his relative fame led me to find trace the fractured past of the letter's owners, resulting in many more surprises. The movie should reflect this bizarre and fascinating journey of parallel lives.

What Your Donation Enables:

Screen Credit as a donor $1000
One Day of Shooting $100
One day of editing $100
A Meal for the Film Crew $50
Purchase Sound, Images or Footage
Group Screening and Discussion
Private Screening

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