Noah Hutton

Documentary Filmmaker

Readings & Lecture Topics

  • In Silico: The Quest to Understand the Brain
  • The Dialogue between Art and Science
  • Communicating Science to the Public
  • An Evening with Noah Hutton


Born in 1987 in Los Angeles to actors Timothy Hutton and Debra Winger, Noah Hutton spent his childhood on and around film sets and developed a passion for filmmaking at an early age.

Crude Independence marked Noah Hutton’s directorial film debut at age 21. The film, which chronicled the early moments of the Bakken oil boom, was an official selection at the 2009 South by Southwest Film Festival and won the Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 2009 Oxford Film Festival. Says a 2009 SXSW Review, “In a day and age when every documentary that releases has some sort of slant, it is refreshing to see one borne only out of its subjects. I know that with any editing process there is an argument being made. But Crude Independence manages to straddle that line better than any film in recent memory.” About his inspiration for the film Hutton said, “I was drawn to the small town nature of the story and the fact that people had lived there for their whole lives with no idea that something like this would happen—and then how the discovery of a resource so far below the ground has dramatically affected life on the surface. It was a personal, human story the whole time for me, timely and socially interesting.”

Hutton’s award-winning documentary film Deep Time (SXSW 2015) was an ethereal return to the same landowners, state officials, and oil workers he captured at the beginning of the Bakken oil boom in Crude Independence. With a new focus on the relationship of the indigenous peoples of North Dakota to their surging fossil wealth and a trip over the thawing arctic permafrost with a NASA climate expedition, Deep Time cast the ongoing boom in the wider and deeper contexts of paleo-cycles, climate change, and the dark ecology of the future.

Hutton’s 2010 directorial project was the documentary feature More To Live For, produced by Love Hope Strength, a global cancer foundation. The film played at over 20 film festivals across the US and was released by Cinetic in 2012. A film of tragedy and loss, strength, and hope, More to Live For featured three extraordinary men suffering from leukemia whose lives depend on finding the perfect bone marrow match and presents the stories of how these men face life and death—and their commitment to making a difference. These deeply personal accounts of confronting illness will inspire hope and action, leaving the viewer empowered to become part of the cure. To date, in their joint mission to bring awareness about bone marrow donation to the millions of people who could save a life today, fifty-four live-saving matches have resulted from post-screening registry drives.

Having studied art history and neuroscience at Wesleyan University, much of Hutton’s ongoing work focuses on the interdisciplinary dialogue between art and science. Told over the course of a decade and supported by Sandbox Films and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, In Silico is his latest documentary feature film about the quest to simulate the human brain on supercomputers, focusing on the Blue Brain Project based in Geneva, Switzerland. His film has been featured in Scientific American, VICE, and on MSNBC, and chronicles the most ambitious project in the fields of neuroscience and artificial intelligence ever undertaken.

In 2014, Hutton created Brain City, a three-minute animated journey that drew parallels between inner and outer worlds, drawing on the latest imagery of the human brain from labs around the world. The piece played on over twenty of Times Square’s billboards from 11:57 to midnight each night of November 2014 as part of the Times Square Arts’ Midnight Moment series. Noah was a featured speaker at the 2013 Association of Neuroaesthetics Symposium at the Venice Biennale, co-curated the 2014 Impakt Festival in Utrecht, Netherlands, was a fellow for the 2015 Salzburg Global Seminar on Art & Neuroscience, and was an invited speaker at the 2016 Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego. He was presented with the Jacob Burns Film Center’s 2015 New Lens Award.


Noah Hutton is a filmmaker and writer who has presented work at the Venice Biennale, Society for Neuroscience, Wellcome Collection, Rubin Museum of Art, and elsewhere. In 2015 he was named a Salzburg Global Fellow in Neuroscience & Art, and created Brain City, a multi-platform installation in Times Square commissioned by the Times Square Arts Alliance. Told over the course of a decade and supported by Sandbox Films and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, In Silico is his latest documentary feature film about the quest to simulate the human brain on supercomputers, focusing on the Blue Brain Project based in Geneva, Switzerland. In 2020, Noah’s first narrative feature film, which he wrote, directed, scored and edited, will premiere at the SXSW Film Festival. A sci-fi story entitled Lapsis, the film imagines a world where quantum computing has taken over and humans compete against automation in a story of class struggle and the perils of the gig economy. Previously he directed the documentary films Crude Independence (SXSW, 2009) and Deep Time (SXSW, 2015), both about the oil boom in North Dakota.


IN SILICO (2020)
Renowned neuroscientist Henry Markram grew frustrated with the scientific status quo when he realized it wasn’t going to help his son’s autism. In a pivot that spoke to the influence of Silicon Valley on all branches of science, Markram announced a radical new plan in 2009 to simulate a full human brain on supercomputers within a decade. Despite vocal critics, his Swiss-based Blue Brain Project snowballed into the €1 billion Human Brain Project. What ensues is director Noah Hutton’s 10-year chronicle of scientific controversy, personal tensions, and the vexing existential and ethical questions raised by trying to build a simulation of the human brain on supercomputers.

LAPSIS (2020)
In a parallel present, delivery man Ray Tincelli is struggling to support himself and his ailing younger brother. After a series of two-bit hustles and unsuccessful swindles, Ray takes a job in a strange new realm of the gig economy: trekking deep into the forest, pulling cable over miles of terrain to connect large, metal cubes that link together the new quantum trading market. As he gets pulled deeper into the zone, he encounters growing hostility and the threat of robot cablers, and must choose to either help his fellow workers or to get rich and get out.

DEEP TIME (2015)
Deep Time is an ethereal return to the same landowners, state officials, and oil workers he captured at the beginning of the Bakken oil boom in Crude Independence. With a new focus on the relationship of the indigenous peoples of North Dakota to their surging fossil wealth and a trip over the thawing arctic permafrost with a NASA climate expedition, Deep Time casts the ongoing boom in the wider and deeper contexts of paleo-cycles, climate change, and the dark ecology of the future.

MORE TO LIVE FOR (2010)
A truly powerful, emotional, and ultimately uplifting film, More To Live For chronicles the lives of three extraordinary men suffering from leukemia, whose lives depend on finding the perfect bone marrow match. Take an inspirational journey with Seun Adebiyi, a US Winter Olympic hopeful in the harrowing sport of Skeleton Racing, fifteen-time Grammy Award winner Michael Brecker, who conquered substance abuse only to face another life-altering trial; and James Chippendale, a successful entrepreneur who sees leukemia as a new challenge, morphing from party boy into philanthropist and founder of the Love Hope and Strength Foundation. Their unrelated paths become connected in a desperate fight for survival and a singular mission: to bring awareness about bone marrow donation to the millions of people who could save a life today. A film of tragedy and loss, strength and hope, More to Live For presents the stories of three individuals facing life and death and their commitment to making a difference. These deeply personal accounts of confronting illness will inspire hope and action, leaving the viewer empowered to become part of the cure.

CRUDE INDEPENDENCE (2009)
The heartland is getting a transplant, and its new heart is pumping oil. Director Noah Hutton takes us to the town of Stanley, North Dakota (population 1,300), sitting atop the largest oil discovery in the history of the North American continent. Through revealing interviews and breathtaking imagery of the northern plains, Crude Independence is at once a riveting journey through the timeline of a modern day gold rush and a rumination on the present state and the uncertain future of small town America—a tale of change at the hands of the global energy market and America’s unyielding thirst for oil. We meet John Warberg, a lifelong farmer who owns the same section of land his grandparents first homesteaded over a century ago. And in a boisterous group interview behind the local bar, we meet the oil workers who have been forced to stay at the Stanley Motel, then in run-down trailers as the motel fills up as a result of the housing shortage in this rural area. The county sheriff tells us about the three signs of this oil boom: “First your motel fills up, then your bars, and lastly, your jails.” Crude Independence puts this modern day oil boom in endearing and captivating human terms while still managing to explore the larger issues of energy dependence, political alignment, and soaring gas prices.