Press Release

George Lucas, John Lithgow, Yo-Yo Ma, Ken Burns and others Examine Life without Art, Music, Literature, and History in New Film


Produced by award-winning filmmakers Ewers Brothers Productions for the American Academy of Arts & Sciences Commission on the Humanities & Social Sciences

WASHINGTON, DC | JUNE 19, 2013 – United in their concern for the future of American education, creativity, security, and competitiveness, a distinguished group of artists and leaders from all fields demonstrate the need for the humanities and social sciences to America’s future in a new film, The Heart of the Matter, released today.

Produced by Emmy® Award-winning filmmakers, Erik and Christopher Ewers, long-time collaborators of documentarian Ken Burns, The Heart of the Matter film is a companion to a report of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences. The Heart of the Matter shines a spotlight on the urgent need to re-focus the country on maintaining national excellence in the humanities and social sciences—and how failure to do so will have consequences at home and abroad.

Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Mark Warner (D-VA) and Representatives Tom Petri (R-WI) and David Price (D-NC) came together on Capitol Hill this morning to accept the report, prepared at their request, by the Commission.

Appearing in the film are producer, screenwriter, and director George Lucas, actor John Lithgow, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.

“The sciences are the how,” says George Lucas in the film, “and the humanities are the why. Why are we here, why do we believe in the things we believe in?”

John Lithgow adds that, “Without the humanities, life doesn’t have life! That’s the Heart of the Matter.”

Also appearing in the film are:

Sandra Day O’Connor, former Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States
Kwame Anthony Appiah, University Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University
Billie Tsien, architect
Rolena Adorno, Sterling Professor of Spanish, Yale University
Norman Augustine, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (Retired), Lockheed Martin Corporation
David L. Brooks, journalist, The New York Times
Earl Lewis, Historian and President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Robert J. Birgeneau, Professor of Physics, Material Science and Engineering and Chancellor Emeritus, UC Berkeley

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences is grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for supporting the creation of this film and the work of the Commission.




Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences

Richard H. Brodhead and John W. Rowe