Bateson Film Premiere

Premier and Other Showings of Nora Bateson's Film:

An Ecology of Mind — A Daughter's Portrait of Gregory Bateson

Premier in New York City

  • September 12, 2011 — at the American Museum of Natural History

Premier in Canada

  • 2 October, 2010, Saturday, 9:00 pm - 11:30 pm — Vancouver, British Columbia — Empire Granville Theater (to a SOLD OUT crowd!)
  • 3 October, 2010, Sunday, Noon - 1:30 pm — Vancouver, British Columbia — Empire Granville Theater

Premier in the United States

  • 10 October, 2010 — San Francisco — 1:45 pm — Red Vic Theater — A panel discussion follows with Stewart Brand & Fritjof Capra. Box office opens 1:15 (no advanced sales)

Other Showings:

  • 6 November, 2010 — Rome, Italy
  • 8 November, 2010 — Milan, Italy
  • 11 November, 2010 — Scio, Italy
  • 11 February, 2011 — Spokane, WA

School and University Rental and Purchase

  • The DVD is not yet available for individual purchase, but school and university rentals and purchases will be available through Bullfrog Films in mid-/late-July, 2011.

An Ecology of Mind — A Daughter's Portrait of Gregory Bateson

The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think.
Gregory Bateson

An Ecology of Mind is a film portrait of Gregory Bateson, celebrated anthropologist, philosopher, author, naturalist, systems theorist, and filmmaker, produced and directed by his daughter, Nora Bateson.

The film includes footage from Bateson’s own films shot in the 1930s in Bali (with Margaret Mead) and New Guinea, along with photographs, filmed lectures, and interviews. His youngest child, Nora, depicts him as a man who studied the interrelationships of the complex systems in which we live with a depth motivated by scientific rigor and caring integrity.

Nora Bateson’s rediscovery of his work documents the vast – and continuing – influence Bateson’s thinking has had on the work of an amazingly wide range of disciplines. Through contemporary interviews, along with his own words, Bateson’s way of thinking reveals practical approaches to the enormous challenges confronting the human race and the natural world.

Gregory Bateson’s theories, such as “the double bind” and “the pattern which connects”, continue to impact the fields of anthropology, psychiatry, information science, cybernetics, urban planning, biology, and ecology, challenging people to think in new ways.

Until now, his work has been largely inaccessible to most of us. Through this film, Nora Bateson sets out to show that his ideas are not just fodder for academic theory, but can help instruct a way of life. She presents his thinking using a richly personal perspective, focusing on the stories Bateson used to present his ideas and how the beauty of life itself provided the framework of his life’s pursuits.

This film hopes to inspire its audience to see our lives within a larger system - glistening with symmetry, play, and metaphor. An invitation to ask the kinds of questions that could help thread the world back together from the inside.
© 2010 by Nora Bateson

Film Reviews and Awards:

  • Winner Media Ecology Association John Culkin 2011 Award for Outstanding Praxis
  • Winner Audience Choice BEST DOCUMENTARY The Santa Cruz Film Festival 2011
  • Winner BEST DOCUMENTARY The Spokane International Film Festival 2011
  • Official Selection of The Vancouver International Film Festival


"An Ecology of Mind is a spell-binding, lyrical, and very important film about Gregory Bateson and his revolutionary ideas that helped launch the modern ecology movement. The film is both memoir and tribute from his daughter, Nora Bateson, demonstrating that the most personal can reveal the most universal. Ms. Bateson’s discoveries with her father reflect the discoveries of a generation that learned serious ecology from Bateson. In the 1960s and 1970s, Bateson became a mentor to students, seasoned academics, and environmentalists, providing the language and insights that linked ecology to general systems, psychology, sociology, epistemology, and broad theories of science. Along the way, Bateson conceived and illuminated some of the most significant ideas of the era: cybernetics, double-bind, changeability, and the pattern that connects. The film, An Ecology of Mind,is an extraordinary portrayal of the breadth, depth, rigor, and dynamism of Gregory Bateson’s contributions to science and humanity."

Rex Weyler
Co-founder, Greenpeace International


“What becomes amply clear is that Bateson is needed today more than ever. His ability to see life from different angles runs counter to the intolerance evident in so much of what passes for contemporary public debate. In this era, which seems more and more to push individuals more toward black-and-write thinking – with any kind of larger shared truth conveniently, often intentionally, ignored – Bateson’s beliefs feel as fresh as they do refreshing…Gregory Bateson took the first steps toward such a worldwide societal reunion long before he died at age 76 in 1980. His daughter, now, in a quietly profound way, has continued the journey. It’s up to the rest of us to complete the process. Watching “An Ecology of Mind” is a good place to start."

Dan Webster
Film critic for NPR’s KPBX "Movies 101"


“An amazing film.”

Wade Graham
Author, Environmentalist, Writer for Harpers & L.A. Times


“Combining rare footage from Bateson’s lectures and interviews with a veritable who’s who of thinkers influenced by his thought, this is an intimate and accessible portrait of one of the most original and creative interdisciplinary thinkers of the 20th century. From ecology to information systems, Bateson shows how the central question is not "What is it made of?" but rather "What is its pattern?" To borrow a famous remark about James Joyce, we are still learning to be Gregory Bateson’s contemporaries. Let’s hope we are fast learners.”

Cary Wolfe
Professor of English, Rice University, Author, Critical Environments: Postmodern Theory and the Pragmatics of the "Outside," and What Is Posthumanism?, Founding editor, Posthumanities series


“Nora Bateson combines imaginative graphics with fascinating documentary footage and illuminating interviews to present her father’s intellectual legacy against the backdrop of his relationship with his youngest child, the filmmaker herself. This unique documentary will be an invaluable resource to the many who have drawn on Gregory Bateson’s ideas – myself included – and to those for whom this will be an enlightening introduction. “

Deborah Tannen
University Professor and Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University and author of Ny times Bestsellers: You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation


“This is a brilliant film about a brilliant thinker. The film offers interviews of scholars, politicians, and public intellectuals who comment on the extraordinary insights made by Gregory Bateson. It also includes clips of Bateson's lectures, interviews, and even personal moments. Bateson's ideas are not only still relevant today, they have become even more so as the global world faces challenges of how to bring systems thinking to bear on solutions. The film is composed by connected segments, named using key concepts that Bateson pioneered, such as pattern, relationship, cybernetics, difference that makes a difference, double bind, and more…This film is the only one I know of that explores the full range of thought and humanity of Gregory Bateson, a giant in the world of systems thinking.”

Tyler Volk
Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies, New York University, Author, "Metapatterns Across Space, Time, and Mind"


“Thank you deeply for letting me see the pre-release copy of An Ecology of Mind. It's a tender and poetic portrayal not only of one of the most provocative thinkers of the last century but also of a vivid relationship between a daughter and father. It's an introduction to Gregory Bateson's wisest thought, product of a lifetime of innovative research, centering on the issue of how we (humans) think and learn and do research.“

Hildred Geertz
Professor Emerita, Dept of Anthropology, Princeton University, Author of "Images of Power: Balinese Paintings made for Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead"


“Many attributes of Gregory Bateson’s life and work are conveyed in the film, but most importantly it has the power to change the way you see. It will show you how you habitually see ‘things’ as ‘real’ and the relations that connect things as some sort of invisible, intangible and ultimately unreal connection between things. Slowly as the film redirects your gaze you will find that you are not looking at things at all, you are looking at patterns of relationship – here and there, now and then, fathers and daughters, fathers and sons, teachers and students, animals and humans, humans and the earth, and even two cups sitting on a table.”

Jeff Carreria
Enlightenment Next Magazine


"Gregory Bateson revolutionized our understanding of the dynamic relationships in (and between) our human consciousness, our communities and societies, and our ecological systems. His work still challenges and informs us as we create new pathways toward health and resilience in our lives, and in our world.” An Ecology of Mind” is the first documentary film to explore the life and innovative ideas of this essential thinker. Through this deeply thought-provoking film, we follow Bateson on his remarkable journey toward insight. We discover how his own life experience led him to comprehend the patterns in our reality. Bateson's work remains indispensible as we come to terms with our responsibilities to future generations and to the larger community of life."

Dr. Curt Meine
Director,Conservation Biology and History, Center for Humans and Nature, Author, “Correction Lines: Essays on Land, Leopold, and Conservation”


"This documentary kindles the spirit of Gregory Bateson, and guides you on two fascinating journeys: One of a daughter's effort to understand her father who died before he could tell her everything she yearned to know, and the other through the ideas that Gregory Bateson developed for us to understand ourselves in the larger ecology to which we contribute. Gregory was an anthropologist, naturalist, cybernetician, and philosopher who never returned to where he came from, restlessly searching to expand the boundaries of our thinking and acting in a world in which everything is connected to everything else. The documentary continues the conversation he started among friends and acquaintances whose lives he touched."

Klaus Krippendorff
Professor for Cybernetics, Language & Culture, University of Pennsylvania, Author, “On Communicating: Otherness, Meaning, and Information”


"As close as I've ever gotten to this profound and influential thinker, Nora Bateson's intimate portrait of her father allows us to delight in his delight, to share his infectious love for thinking and being. It is the most enjoyable way I know to get a dose of the systems thinking that our society so sorely needs." Also, "A wonderful introduction to Bateson's thought."

Dorion Sagan
Sleight of hand magician, and author who writes extensively on Evolution, Cybersex, and the Biology of Gender

Posted 2010/9/30 — Updated: 2010/12/23

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