Hannes Richter

Film Premiere of Carl Djerassi - My Life

Hannes Richter

Carl DjerassiThe Washington Film Premiere of Carl Djerassi - My Life In March 2011, some 250 people attended the Washington, D.C. film premiere of Carl Djerassi - My Life (Carl Djerassi - Mein Leben) at the Carnegie Institution for Science. The event featured a book signing with Carl Djerassi and a Q&A session moderated by Madeleine Jacobs, executive director and CEO of the American Chemical Society (ACS). The Carnegie Institution for Science hosted the evening event in collaboration with the ACS and the Austrian Embassy’s Office of Science & Technology (OST).

Djerassi was accompanied by his son, Dale Djerassi, his grandson Alexander Djerassi, the Austrian Ambassador to the U.S., Christian Prosl and the Austrian Science and Technology Attaché, Philipp Marxgut. The documentary, which was directed by Joachim Haupt, captured the life of Carl Djerassi, who invented the first oral contraceptive pill in his capacity as a chemist.

Djerassi, who is also active as a novelist, collaborated with playwright Isabella Gregor to publish his play Verrechnet in 2009, which merges science and fiction. Laced with Djerassi's wit, the film captivatingly sketches the struggles and tragedies, comforts and passions of the Austrianborn scientist, whose discovery ushered in the modern dialog on sex, women's rights, and human reproduction. Audiences gain a glimpse into Djerassi's lifestyle as a restless traveler, and can also take a look at the ranch in California, where his art colony, the Djerassi Resident Arts Program, is located.

The Q&A session displayed Djerassi's years of reflection on the pill, the development of science, technology and society, and his career transition from chemist to writer. Particularly during a series of personal questions, Djerassi showed a sense of humor and humility that only time and hurdles can teach you. "What do you hope people will say about you after you have shuffled off this mortal coil, 30, 40 years from now?" Madeleine Jacobs asked as the final question. Djerassi replied: "That I didn't do very much harm."