Emotions Revealed:
The Life and Work of Dr. Paul Ekman

Dr. Paul Ekman’s contributions to the field of psychology are unparalleled.His development of the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) and pioneering research on micro expressions have not only advanced scientific understanding but have also had practical applications in most aspects of modern life. From law enforcement agencies using his techniques for deception detection to Hollywood incorporating his concepts into films and television shows, Dr. Ekman’s work has left an indelible mark on society.In the final phase of his career, Ekman’s unique friendship with His Holiness the Dalai Lama has born fruit through multiple projects on emotional awareness, joining eastern contemplative practices and traditions with western science.

Emotions Revealed: The Life and Work of Dr. Paul Ekman is a documentary film that seeks to delve deep into Ekman’s enduring legacy. Through captivating visuals, unique archival sources, and interviews with the man himself, key people in his life, and insightful experts, this film illuminates Ekman’s profound impact on modern society – from mental health and lie detection to pop culture and the new era of AI. Emotions Revealed explores the significant impact of Ekman’s contributions in our own lives and how his discoveries continue to influence our understanding of the human psyche.

“Emotions are not the fabric of life. They are life. Emotions are what make life worth living. Emotions are what make life worth not living. It can go either way.”
– Dr. Paul Ekman

Director’s Statement

I met Paul Ekman 21 years ago. At the time I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area, working on my directorial debut and writing feature stories for El Mundo newspapers in Spain, my birth country. I still remember the day I met Paul for the first time in his home in the Berkeley Hills. I was there to write about his new book, Telling Lies, and at the time, he was consulting with Pixar Studios. Our first connection was fruitful. The piece I wrote made an impact.

As a career documentary filmmaker, I believe in the power of communicating human emotion through film. As I was completing my latest feature, The Island in Me, I thought again of Paul and wondered if a film had yet been made about his life and accomplishments. After finding his contact info, I was thrilled to hear from his daughter Eve: “Paul would like to see you in person.” The pandemic was ongoing, but I traveled from Los Angeles to San Francisco to see him in person. From a safe distance, I asked him “If I’m going to pitch a film to the expert on facial expressions of emotions, shall I take off my mask?” He agreed. I explained my motivations. With a mischievous smile he gave his response: “I am game.”

My intention with this film is to make a beautiful portrait of the man that changed the landscape of understanding emotion. One of the big surprises about reconnecting with Paul after two decades is that I got to know his daughter. Eve Ekman now carries the torch of his research as a contemplative social scientist and continues the legacy of groundbreaking work in human emotions and well-being.

As Paul Ekman just celebrated his 90th birthday, the time to make a film about him is now. I have been entrusted with full access to tell his story in a way that not only documents his professional work but also encompasses the personal motivations that drove him to dive into the unknown world of studying human emotions. In an increasingly fractured, deceptive, and chaotic world, the time for this film is now. It will be an insightful, visually-striking cinematic portrait of a true American pioneer, a man whose work revolutionized our understanding of the human face.

“I always believed that it was possible that I could spend my life in a way that would benefit others, and that’s what I had to try to do.”
– Dr. Paul Ekman

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