Curt Harper began surfing at the age of 10, despite doctors telling his parents that their autistic son may have to be institutionalized. Now, at 50 years old, Harper is a fixture in the Southern California surf scene and regularly attends competitions. He also takes “groms,” young surfers, out to the shore when their parents can’t make it. “Everybody that surfs in Southern California knows Curt—he’s famous,” says the surfer Dane Reynolds in this short film. The documentary follows Curt in his daily life and captures his many quirks: from his mailroom job, to his obsession with police radios, and, most importantly, his role as chauffeur to the waves for kids in his neighborhood. To learn more about the film and filmmakers visit

At this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival, we asked a group of professors, psychologists, and journalists how they would define happiness. According to Eli Finkel, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University, the definition is twofold: “It seems to me that happiness is some blend of experience of pleasure and the experience of meaning and fulfillment in life,” he says. “I think much more of the latter than the former.” Other panelists include Tim Kasser, Susan Greenfield, Brian Grazer, Paul Bloom, Suleika Jaouad, Robert D. Putnam, and Jennifer Senior.

The Big Question is a series inspired by The Atlantic‘s back-page feature.

About This Series

Ideas and insights from leaders in technology, education, business, design, and media

The experience of getting older is a nebulous thing—life is unpredictable and has many chapters. Mishka Kornai’s documentary attempts to encapsulate what it’s like to grow up, using testimonies from 75 individuals. The documentary traces the arc of a life in soundbites: being a child, turning 15, going to college, getting married and then divorced, and experiencing the death of a parent. All the scenes are captured from directly above the subjects using cameras on either a crane or a drone. “Growing up is like your reflection in a mirror becoming clearer and crisper as time goes by,” one subject says. “To flower, that’s my idea of growth,” another adds. “You come out as yourself.”

This film was commissioned by the television brand VIZIO. To see more of Kornai’s work, visit his website.

Neil Harbisson was born with achromatopsia, a rare condition that leaves 1 in 30,000 people completely colorblind. He convinced doctors to implant an antenna in his skull, which allows him to hear colors through audible vibrations in his head. Harbisson calls himself a cyborg: “I don’t feel that I’m using technology, I don’t feel like I’m wearing technology,” he says in this short film. “I feel like I am technology.”

This documentary was created by the filmmaker Greg Brunkalla for The Connected Series, an initiative from Samsung in partnership with Vimeo.

Eric Edwards owns 1,600 pieces of African art—worth an estimated $10 million dollars—in his Brooklyn apartment. His fascination with collecting African art began in his youth, he explains in this documentary by Mark Zemel, and was prompted by his father’s worldview. “He knew we would experience racism and he wanted to basically inoculate us from feeling less important or inferior than anyone else,” Edwards says. “His way of doing that was to teach us African history.” Edwards has spent 44 years amassing his collection, and is now trying to open a museum to house his artifacts. It will be called the Cultural Museum of African Art—a Kickstarter exists to fund the opening of the Brooklyn museum.

Zemel is currently working on a series that looks at collectors and their obsessions. His next film is called is called “The Purrtraitist,” a short documentary on a professional cat photographer.