The elixir of youth, a mythical medicine offering eternal life, can be found in many ancient tales. Yet stem cell technology could make this fiction a reality, according to two budding filmmakers.
Bai Wai and Mack Tomalki have spent three years following stem cell treatments in China for their documentary Live Forever, slated for release at the end of this year.
"Our message is that technologies that allow people to live forever are coming, " said Swedish co-director Tomalki, 55.
Though eternal life may be far off, the duo say the film highlights the potential of this controversial medical practice. "We know our message is important," said Bai, a 28-year-old Beijing artist.
Bai decided to explore the mystery behind China`s stem cell treatments four years ago when Tomalki mentioned how scientists were using stem cells to grow new limbs. He admits at the time he knew nothing about the experimental technology but his imagination was stirred.
He began visiting patients at hospitals and soon realized the magic was not in growing new limbs - it was in treating deadly diseases.
"I saw hundreds of patients with different kinds of fatal disorders. I saw their conditions improve with my own eyes," said Bai.
Bai and Tomalki have gathered more than 30 hours of footage, including interviews with five international specialists at hospitals in Beijing and Qingdao, Shandong province. Bai even obtained permission from the People`s Liberation Army to interview doctors at military medical facilities.
"It is the story from the inside," added Tomalki.