“HAWKING” to Have World Premiere at SXSW Film Festival This March

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Portrait of Stephen Hawking outside the Department of Applied Mathemat
Jason Bye

 – Airing on PBS in 2013, Co-Production of Darlow Smithson Productions, PBS, and Channel 4(uk) is First-Ever Intimate Portrait of Celebrity Physicist Stephen Hawking –

HAWKING Is Filled With Insights From High-Profile Fans and Colleagues –

ARLINGTON, VA; January 31, 2013 –  The first-ever autobiographical documentary about physicist Stephen Hawking, called HAWKING, has been accepted by SXSW as one of five “Headliner” films to be featured at its film festival  in March. Slated to air on PBS in 2013, the film offers  rare insight into Hawking’s life, past and present, aided by a stellar cast of A-list contributors and Hawking fans, including astronaut Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr., actors Jim Carrey and Benedict Cumberbatch, mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson.

HAWKING features exclusive access to Hawking’s life story, told largely in his own words. It includes dramatic accounts of his life from childhood through university; intimate footage of Hawking today, including his home routine and his work life at the University of Cambridge; archival footage; and candid insights from family members, friends and colleagues. Computer-generated imagery (CGI) illustrates some of Hawking’s remarkable discoveries, such as the nature of black holes and the Big Bang Theory.

“If you had asked me 40 years ago if I ever thought I would be talking in front of a sell-out crowd and be a part of popular culture, I would have laughed,” said Hawking. “But if my getting involved in this has encouraged people to question our universe, then I am happy [to have done it].”

The film provides a close look into his daily routine, including how he travels and how he gets to work and some of his favorite pastimes — including listening to classical music. Technology and an army of caregivers allow Hawking to enjoy life, but the film also showcases more difficult aspects, such as his battle to continue communicating through his computer, a process about which he meets regularly with technology experts. In addition to the A-list contributors, interviewees include Hawking’s ex-wife, his biographer, past and current students and graduate assistants, nurses and his literary agent, among others.

“We are thrilled to bring this exclusive program about Stephen Hawking to PBS, and honored that it has been accepted for a world premiere at SXSW,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming, PBS. “HAWKING opens up a new window into his life and achievements as never before and we’re proud to be a co-producer on this film.”

“We are honored to have had the opportunity to film and capture the most intimate details of Stephen Hawking’s life,” added Ben Bowie, Executive Producer. “Through Hawking’s own words, as well as those closest to him, SXSW filmgoers and PBS viewers have an opportunity to get a fresh perspective on one of the greatest scientists of our time.”

Stephen Hawking has sold more than 10 million books, spoken in front of thousands of people at sell-out live shows and appeared on iconic TV shows such as “The Simpsons” and “Star Trek.” He counts many of the most famous people on the planet as friends. He has met with the pope, experienced zero gravity, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and much more. He became paralyzed due to motor neuron disease, but his intellectual brilliance, his refusal to quit and his trademark dry wit — all showcased in HAWKING — have propelled him to international fame and celebrity.

PRODUCTION CREDITS Executive producer: Ben Bowie; producer, filmmaker and director: Stephen Finnigan Produced by Darlow Smithson for PBS and Channel 4 (UK). Darlow Smithson Productions Ltd, © 2012.

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About Darlow Smithson Productions Darlow Smithson Productions (DSP) is one of the world’s leading factual production companies. With an unsurpassed reputation for producing high quality television programmes for UK, US and international broadcasters, DSP has achieved worldwide industry recognition for its ground-breaking output. DSP is the proud recipients of more than 40 awards, including recognition from prestigious organisations such as BAFTA, The Royal Television Society and the US Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. From its base in London, DSP works across a wide range of non-fiction television – from prestigious single feature-length documentaries, to flagship series and from long-running popular formats to high quality factually-based drama. DSP also specialises in the use of advanced computer graphics and quality dramatic re-enactment and is an acknowledged leader in theatrical documentary.

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MEDIA CONTACTS: John Michael Kennedy and Jennifer Brod, Goodman Media International, 212-576-2700, pbsprogramming@goodmanmedia.com

Carrie Johnson, PBS, 703-739-5129, cjohnson@pbs.org

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