Mr. Immortal Jellyfish Man is the story of Japanese scientist Shin Kubota’s obsessive quest to unlock the secret of a jellyfish discovered to be “immortal.”  At the expense of most other aspects of his life, the 65-year-old divorcee has spent much of the last 30 years in a cramped lab in a sleepy coastal town doing the meticulous work of studying and caring for the world’s only captive population of Turritopsis dohrnii, a species of jellyfish found to be capable of endlessly regenerating itself.  Boasting a striking genetic similarity to humans, the Turritopsis represents for most scientists an intriguing avenue for cancer cure research.  But for Shin Kubota, the immortal jellyfish embodies nothing less than “the most wonderful dream of mankind.”  Spurred on by graying hair and fading eyesight, he tirelessly rejuvenates his jellyfish, believing that solving the mystery of their immortality for human application is achievable in our lifetime.  He fears, however, that humans, destructive in their behavior towards the environment, are not spiritually mature enough to handle the secret responsibly.  So Kubota has launched a second career, that of a writer and performer of songs designed to encourage a healthier relationship between man and nature.  By night he transforms himself from erudite marine biologist into Mr. Immortal Jellyfish Man, hits karaoke bars in a costume designed to resemble a jellyfish, and performs songs such as “Life Forever” and “Scarlet Medusa — an Eternal Witness.”  Still, he worries that the secrets of the immortal jellyfish will be discovered too soon, before man is ready to harness the science of immortality in an ethical manner.  “Nature is so beautiful,” he says, smiling ironically. “If human beings disappeared, how peaceful it would be.”


THE FILMMAKERS:

Dicky Dahl

DICKY DAHL (Director) co-wrote and produced The Ballad of Ramblin’ Jack, a documentary portrait of cowboy folksinger Ramblin’ Jack Elliott that won the Special Jury Prize for Artistic Achievement at Sundance in 2000 and received wide theatrical distribution. His hybrid memoiresque narrative, The Curio, premiered in 2015, marking his feature directorial debut. He’s the co-creator of Crazy Possible, a mid-life crisis travel series set along the Continental Divide Trail. His latest project is Mr Immortal Jellyfish Man, a feature documentary about a Japanese scientist’s quixotic quest to unlock the secret of the immortal jellyfish. He is the co-founder of Great Notion, a Portland, Oregon-based filmmaker cooperative and creative services agency. Dicky grew up in New Jersey dreaming about the west, sang for the art-pop band Stratotanker in New York City, planted trees amongst the Mayans of highland Guatemala and herded goats in the Spanish Sierra Nevada before making his way out west and turning his attention to independent filmmaking.

Scott Ballard

SCOTT BALLARD (Producer/Director of Photography) is an award-winning Director, Producer and Director of Photography with over 12 years experience filming narrative features, documentaries, shorts and music videos.  His HD, Super 16mm and 35mm work has played in festivals around the world.  He holds an MFA in Film Production from Boston University.  His most recent film, Death On A Rock, has screened in forty festivals, garnering ten awards and sixteen nominations.  Currently, he is producing a short documentary series, is in post‑production on Mr. Immortal Jellyfish Man and in pre‑production on his fourth narrative feature film, Friday Afternoon In The Universe.  Scott lives and teaches film production in Portland, Oregon.

Kyung-Lee.jpeg

KYUNG LEE (Editor) is a filmmaker and a film editor based in San Francisco, CA. Kyung’s directorial debut, “TELOS: The Fantastic World of Eugene Tssui ” (2014), has been shown at festivals worldwide and is being broadcast on PBS stations. Kyung’s editing credits include “Navajo Math Circles” (2016, PBS), “2E: Twice Exceptional” (2015), “Counting from Infinity: Yitang Zhang and the Twin Conjecture” (2015, PBS) “Big Joy: The Adventure of James Broughton” (2013, SXSW, Tribeca), “The Illness and the Odyssey” (2013, Mill Valley, Guam Int’l), as well as multimedia projects and commercial productions. Kyung’s most recent film is ‘Homecoming,’ which documents two womens’ pilgrimage to Puka Puka, a remote atoll in the Cook Islands.