Writer-director Joseph Clement’s subject for Integral Man is the modern renaissance man Jim Stewart. Stewart is a brilliant concert-level violinist with a contagious passion for music, but he is also an accomplished teacher of mathematics. Spurred on by some students who told him that his notes on the chalkboard were clearer than the textbook they were using, Stewart took to writing his own calculus books. They quickly became the standard texts in the field; in 2014 his book sales were over $26 million.
Stewart’s spectacular successes don’t stop there. With the money he earned from hi textbooks sales, he sought out to build a residential house that combined his love of mathematics with his appreciation for music and performance. After interviewing some of the most renowned architects of today, he chose to work with Brigitte Shim and Howard Sutcliffe, constantly developing his ideas into architectural reality. That’s right – Stewart moonlights as an aficionado of architecture.
The residence, called Integral House, is a sweeping testament to curves and a reflection of its natural surroundings. It includes a central stair encased in shingles made from blue glass, an indoor pool, and a concert hall that seats 150. Clement’s film takes testimony from various architectural critics, and they each have their own glowing reviews of the house.
As intriguing as the house is, Stewart is the focal point for a reason. Integral Man is a story of passions doggedly pursued, from music and mathematics to political activism and philanthropy. It’s an absolute inspiration.
This review was originally published as part of our Hot Docs 2017 coverage. The film opens at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema on Friday, July 7th