The first feature film about mathematician Stan Ulam has attached an international cast of rising actors, and recently secured major financing. They have announced plans to shoot beginning in June. The film, ADVENTURES OF A MATHEMATICIAN, will be directed by Thor Klein, and produced by Lena Vurma. It centers on two major 20th century inventions: the hydrogen bomb and the computer, to which Stan Ulam was central. The film is adapted from Ulam’s autobiography of the same name.
Jakub Gierszal, a Polish actor who was in Agnieszka Holland’s latest film SPOOR, will star as Ulam. Mateusz Wieclawek will play Ulam’s brother Adam. Joel Basman, who was in Christian Schwochow’s 2016 feature PAULA, will play the physicist Edward Teller; Teller was Ulam’s colleague on the Manhattan Project. Romanian actor Sabin Tambrea (LUDWIG II) will play the German physicist and Soviet spy Klaus Fuchs. It was just announced the Irish actor Sam Keeley (THE CURED) will play the mathematician Jack Calkin. Ita Zbroniec-Zajt will be the film’s cinematographer.
ADVENTURES OF A MATHEMATICIAN will span 1940 through ’55. “The film is a humorous ride through twentieth century science,” producer Lena Vurma told Science & Film. It will be told from Ulam’s point of view, while giving the larger context of what was happening in the 1940s and ’50s. “Back then, mathematicians and physicists approached science almost like an art,” director Thor Klein said. “But through the ’40s science turned into an industry and changed the tone in the scientific community entirely.”
Klein and Vurma have received support for the film at script-stage from the Sloan Foundation and its partnerships with the Tribeca Film Institute and Film Independent. Facilitated by the Sloan grant, the filmmakers have been working with historian and author George Dyson, whose book Turing’s Cathedral chronicles how digital computers developed post World War II. The Canadian-based distribution company Mongrel International is representing ADVENTURES OF A MATHEMATICIAN.
For more, read Science & Film’s interview with Thor Klein and Lena Vurma.