Critics Choice Documentary Awards 2020

Posted on November 18, 2020 at 10:59 am

This has been a great year for documentaries and it was very hard to decide on my ballot for the Critics Choice Awards. I salute all of this year’s nominees and awardees.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
“Dick Johnson is Dead” (Netflix)

BEST DIRECTOR
Kirsten Johnson, “Dick Johnson is Dead” (Netflix)

BEST FIRST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Melissa Haizlip, “Mr. SOUL!” (Shoes in the Bed Productions)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Roger Horrocks, “My Octopus Teacher” (Netflix)

BEST EDITING
Lindy Jankura, Alexis Johnson and Alex Keipper, “Totally Under Control” (Neon)

BEST SCORE
Marco Beltrami, Brandon Roberts and Buck Sanders, “The Way I See It” (Focus Features)

BEST NARRATION
“David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet”(Netflix)

David Attenborough, Narrator
David Attenborough, Writer

BEST ARCHIVAL DOCUMENTARY
“MLK/FBI” (Field of Vision/IFC Films)

BEST HISTORICAL/BIOGRAPHICAL DOCUMENTARY
“John Lewis: Good Trouble” (Magnolia Pictures/Participant)

BEST MUSIC DOCUMENTARY (TIE)
“Beastie Boys Story” (Apple)
“The Go-Go’s” (Showtime)

BEST POLITICAL DOCUMENTARY
“Boys State” (Apple)

BEST SCIENCE/NATURE DOCUMENTARY
“My Octopus Teacher” (Netflix)

BEST SPORTS DOCUMENTARY (TIE)
“Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes” (HBO)
“Athlete A” (Netflix)

BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY
“St. Louis Superman” (MTV Documentary Films)
(Directors and Producers: Sami Khan and Smriti Mundhra. Producer: Poh Si Teng)

MOST COMPELLING LIVING SUBJECTS OF A DOCUMENTARY (HONOR)
Dr. Rick Bright – “Totally Under Control” (Neon)
Steven Garza – “Boys State” (Apple)
The Go-Go’s – “The Go-Go’s” (Showtime)
Judith Heumann – “Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution” (Netflix)
Dick Johnson – “Dick Johnson is Dead” (Netflix)
Maggie Nichols, Rachael Denhollander, Jamie Dantzscher – “Athlete A” (Netflix)
Fox Rich – “Time” (Amazon)
Pete Souza – “The Way I See It” (Focus Features)
Taylor Swift – “Miss Americana” (Netflix)
Greta Thunberg – “I Am Greta” (Hulu)

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Awards Documentary

Watch “All In” for Free! Democracy Documentary

Posted on October 29, 2020 at 2:51 pm

The terrific documentary “All In: The Fight for Democracy,” a love letter to the power of the vote, will be available worldwide to audiences everywhere from October 29th until November 1st on the Prime Video YouTube page. This will allow the filmmakers and Amazon Studios to reach both voters and potential voters where they are, helping to educate them on the important subject of voter suppression.

Tens of millions of Americans have already voted in the current election where we are witnessing widespread suppression tactics across many states, especially in communities of color.

From my interview with the directors:

I think what our job is as storytellers, as truth-tellers, is to not panic and to just tell everybody, it’s okay. We can vote. You know, make a plan, vote early, mail that ballot in. If you’re going in person, be prepared to wait on a long line. Take someone with you. A plan is the best antidote to chaos. And the best antidote to voter suppression is voter turnout.

Watch the movie — and make sure everyone in your life votes!

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Documentary

Critics Choice Nominees for Documentary Awards

Posted on October 26, 2020 at 11:38 am

The Critics Choice Association (CCA) has announced the nominees for the fifth annual Critics Choice Documentary Awards (CCDA). The winners will be revealed in a Special Announcement on Monday, November 16, 2020.

Netflix leads the nominations with 31, followed by Neon (14), Magnolia Pictures (9), HBO (5), Showtime (6), and Amazon, National Geographic, and PBS Independent Lens with 5 each.

Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, Gunda, and Mr. SOUL! lead this year’s nominations with five each.

Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution is nominated for Best Documentary Feature, James Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham for Best Director, Best Editing, Best Archival Documentary, and Best Historical/Biography Documentary. The film also received an honor for Judith Heumann for Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary.

Gunda is nominated for Best Documentary Feature, Victor Kossakovsky for Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Best Science/Nature Documentary.

Mr. SOUL! is nominated for Best Documentary Feature, Best First Documentary Feature, Best Narration, Best Archival Documentary, and Best Historical/Biographical Documentary.

Recognized with four nominations each are Athlete A, Dick Johnson is Dead, My Octopus Teacher, and Totally Under Control.

The nominations for Athlete A are Best Documentary Feature, Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk for Best Director, Best Editing, and Best Sports Documentary. Maggie Nichols, Rachael Denhollander, and Jamie Dantzscher are also being recognized with the honor of Most Compelling Living Subjects of a Documentary.

The nominations for Dick Johnson is Dead are Best Documentary Feature, Kirsten Johnson for Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Narration. The film also received an honor for Dick Johnson for Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary.

The nominations for My Octopus Teacher are Best Documentary Feature, Best Cinematography, Best Narration, and Best Science/Nature Documentary.

The nominations for Totally Under Control are Best Editing, Best Score, Best Narration, and Best Political Documentary. The film also received an honor for Dr. Rick Bright for Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary.

“At a unique time for the entertainment industry and the world, documentaries are more important and fortunately more abundant and more available and more essential than ever,” said Christopher Campbell, President of the Critics Choice Association Documentary Branch. “In 2020, documentaries have taken us to places and shown us perspectives we’ve never experienced before. They’ve chronicled events and life stories that are enlightening and enthralling – and sometimes frightening. It is a great honor for the CCA to celebrate these stories and subjects and shed light on the work of so many incredible filmmakers. The Documentary Branch faced its greatest task yet considering the quantity and quality of nonfiction cinema released this year. Ultimately, these nominees represent the best of the best of a remarkably fruitful moment for documentary filmmaking.”

Congratulations to all of the very worthy nominees. I look forward to the difficult decision about which will get my votes.

The nominees for the fifth annual Critics Choice Documentary Awards are:

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Athlete A (Netflix)
Belushi (Showtime)
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (Netflix)
Dick Johnson is Dead (Netflix)
Feels Good Man (Wavelength Productions/PBS Independent Lens)
The Fight (Magnolia Pictures)
The Go-Go’s (Showtime)
Gunda (Neon)
Mr. SOUL! (Shoes in the Bed Productions)
My Octopus Teacher (Netflix)
The Painter and the Thief (Neon)
A Secret Love (Netflix)
The Social Dilemma (Netflix)
Time (Amazon Studios)

BEST DIRECTOR

Garrett Bradley, Time (Amazon Studios)
Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, Athlete A (Netflix)
Kirsten Johnson, Dick Johnson is Dead (Netflix)
Victor Kossakovsky, Gunda (Neon)
James Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham, Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (Netflix)
Dawn Porter, John Lewis: Good Trouble (Magnolia Pictures)
Benjamin Ree, The Painter and the Thief (Neon)

BEST FIRST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Robert S. Bader, Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes (HBO)
Chris Bolan, A Secret Love (Netflix)
Melissa Haizlip, Mr. SOUL! (Shoes in the Bed Productions)
Arthur Jones, Feels Good Man (Wavelength Productions/PBS Independent Lens)
Elizabeth Leiter and Kim Woodard, Jane Goodall: The Hope (National Geographic)
Elizabeth Lo, Stray (Magnolia Pictures)
Sasha Joseph Neulinger, Rewind (Grizzly Creek Films/PBS Independent Lens)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw, The Truffle Hunters (Sony Pictures Classics)
Roger Horrocks, My Octopus Teacher (Netflix)
Kirsten Johnson, Dick Johnson is Dead (Netflix)
Victor Kossakovsky and Egil Håskjold Larsen, Gunda (Neon)
Scott Ressler, Neil Gelinas and Stefan Wiesen, The Last Ice (National Geographic)
Gianfranco Rosi, Notturno (Stemal Entertainment)
Ruben Woodin Dechamps, The Reason I Jump (Kino Lorber)

BEST EDITING

Don Bernier, Athlete A (Netflix)
Eli Despres, Greg Finton and Kim Roberts, The Fight (Magnolia Pictures)
Lindy Jankura and Alex Keipper, Totally Under Control (Neon)
Helen Kearns, Assassins (Greenwich Entertainment)
Victor Kossakovsky and Ainara Vera, Gunda (Neon)
Eileen Meyer and Andrew Gersh, Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (Netflix)
Charlotte Munch Bengtsen, The Truffle Hunters (Sony Pictures Classics)

BEST SCORE

Ari Balouzian and Ryan Hope, Feels Good Man (Wavelength Productions/PBS Independent Lens)
Marco Beltrami, Brandon Roberts and Buck Sanders, The Way I See It (Focus Features)
Tyler Durham, Sven Faulconer and Xander Rodzinski, The Last Ice (National Geographic)
Peter Nashel and Brian Deming, Totally Under Control (Neon)
Daniel Pemberton, Rising Phoenix (Netflix)
Jeff Tweedy, Long Gone Summer (ESPN)
Jeff Tweedy, Spencer Tweedy and Sammy Tweedy, Showbiz Kids (HBO)

BEST NARRATION

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet (Netflix)
David Attenborough, Narrator
David Attenborough, Writer
Dick Johnson is Dead (Netflix)
Kirsten Johnson, Narrator
Kirsten Johnson, Writer
Fireball: Visitors From Darker Worlds (Apple)
Werner Herzog, Narrator
Werner Herzog, Writer
Mr. SOUL! (Shoes in the Bed Productions)
Blair Underwood, Narrator
Ellis Haizlip, Writer
My Octopus Teacher (Netflix)
Craig Foster, Narrator
Craig Foster, Writer
Time (Amazon Studios)
Fox Rich, Narrator
Fox Rich, Writer
Totally Under Control (Neon)
Alex Gibney, Narrator
Alex Gibney, Writer

BEST ARCHIVAL DOCUMENTARY

Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes (HBO)
Belushi (Showtime)
Class Action Park (HBO)
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (Netflix)
MLK/FBI (Field of Vision/IFC Films)
Mr. SOUL! (Shoes in the Bed Productions)
Spaceship Earth (Neon)

BEST HISTORICAL/BIOGRAPHICAL DOCUMENTARY

Belushi (Showtime)
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (Netflix)
Howard (Disney+)
John Lewis: Good Trouble (Magnolia Pictures)
Mr. SOUL! (Shoes in the Bed Production)
Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado (Netflix)
Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind (HBO)

BEST MUSIC DOCUMENTARY

Beastie Boys Story (Apple)
Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan (Magnolia Pictures)
The Go-Go’s (Showtime)
Laurel Canyon (Epix)
Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band (Magnolia Pictures)
Other Music (Factory 25)
Zappa (Magnolia Pictures)

BEST POLITICAL DOCUMENTARY

All In: The Fight for Democracy (Amazon Studios)
Boys State (Apple)
John Lewis: Good Trouble (Magnolia Pictures)
MLK/FBI (Field of Vision/IFC Films)
The Social Dilemma (Netflix)
Totally Under Control (Neon)
The Way I See It (Focus Features)

BEST SCIENCE/NATURE DOCUMENTARY

Coded Bias (7th Empire Media/PBS Independent Lens)
Fantastic Fungi (Moving Art)
Gunda (Neon)
I Am Greta (Hulu)
The Last Ice (National Geographic)
My Octopus Teacher (Netflix)
Spaceship Earth (Neon)

BEST SPORTS DOCUMENTARY

Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes (HBO)
Athlete A (Netflix)
Be Water (ESPN)
A Most Beautiful Thing (50 Eggs Films)
Red Penguins (Universal Pictures)
Rising Phoenix (Netflix)
You Cannot Kill David Arquette (Super LTD)

BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY

Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible (ESPN)
(Directors: Kristen Lappas and Tom Rinaldi. Producers: Craig Lazarus, José Morales, Lindsay Rovegno, Victor Vitarelli and Ben Webber)
The Claudia Kishi Club (Netflix)
(Director and Producer: Sue Ding)
Crescendo! (Quibi)
(Director: Alex Mallis. Producers: Matt O’Neill and Perri Peltz)
Elevator Pitch (Field of Vision)
(Director and Producer: Martyna Starosta)
Hunger Ward (Spin Film/Vulcan Productions/RYOT Films)
(Director and Producer: Skye Fitzgerald. Producer: Michael Scheuerman)
Into the Fire (National Geographic)
(Director: Orlando von Einsiedel. Producers: Mark Bauch, Harri Grace and Dan Lin)
My Father the Mover (MTV Documentary Films)
(Director: Julia Jansch. Producer: Mandilakhe Yengo)
The Rifleman (Field of Vision)
(Director: Sierra Pettengill. Producer: Arielle de Saint Phalle)
The Speed Cubers (Netflix)
(Director and Producer: Sue Kim. Producers: Evan Krauss and Chris Romano)
St. Louis Superman (MTV Documentary Films)
(Directors and Producers: Sami Khan and Smriti Mundhra. Producer: Poh Si Teng)

MOST COMPELLING LIVING SUBJECTS OF A DOCUMENTARY (HONOR)

Dr. Rick Bright – Totally Under Control (Neon)
Steven Garza – Boys State (Apple)
The Go-Go’s – The Go-Go’s (Showtime)
Judith Heumann – Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (Netflix)
Dick Johnson – Dick Johnson is Dead (Netflix)
Maggie Nichols, Rachael Denhollander, Jamie Dantzscher – Athlete A (Netflix)
Fox Rich – Time (Amazon)
Pete Souza – The Way I See It (Focus Features)
Taylor Swift – Miss Americana (Netflix)
Greta Thunberg – I Am Greta (Hulu)

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Awards Documentary

Interview: Father Leahy on “Benedict Men”

Posted on September 30, 2020 at 11:45 am

copyright quibi 2020
Athletic competition is endlessly fascinating, not just because of the talent and skill but because no one becomes a champion without character and values: determination, courage, and the kind of teamwork that requires respect and responsibility. And because we love stories about underdogs who never give up and come from behind. Basketball superstar Steph Curry understands that, and so he is the producer of a superb new documentary series on Quibi called “Benedict Men,” the story of a small Catholic high school in New Jersey run by Bendictine monks, most of the students Black and from families struggling financially, with a basketball team that is consistently the state champion.

I spoke to Father Edwin Leahy about the school, the basketball program, and the documentary.

What defines the Benedictines? What makes them different from the Jesuits and other Catholic orders that run schools?

The Jesuits were created by St. Ignatius to be at the disposal of the holy father, the pope, to go wherever they needed to be in the world to evangelize. We on the other hand are the oldest order in the church because St. Benedict existed/lived in 480 or 530 more or less 540. The fundamental difference is that we take a vow of stability so we are vowed to a place. We have other vows as well but that is the distinguishing mark, that we don’t get moved around. We live in the same place for our lives until they carry us out of the church as they say in Spanish in pajamas of wood, in a box. We’re here to stay and that’s our great strength, it’s also our great weakness because if we don’t get vocations to come to our house there’s a problem because there’s no place else you transfer people in from.

So you’ve been at St. Benedicts for a long time.

I went to school here as a high school boy. My father wanted me to go to an all-boys school so I applied here. I got rejected and my father was not to be put off, he talked to the pastor of our church and the pastor interceded and I got in provisionally. The joke turned out to be some of the people who rejected me wound up working for me.

When I got here I loved it; I could take you to the place in the building where I stood the first and second day I was here. I was a 13-year-old at the time and I knew I was home; I have no idea why but I knew I was home and I belonged here and here we are fifty something years later.

I entered the monastery community here in 1965, professed vows in ‘66, took solemn vows in ‘69, was ordained a priest in ‘72. I’ve been living here in Newark at the abbey at St. Benedict’s Prep since 1969.

The school closed in 1972 after 104 years because of racism and we lost 14 men from our monastery; they went to another place and we were stuck with trying to live a community life with no common work. So, we decided we would try to do something in education which is what we had always done and what the city desperately needed. I was dumb enough to say I would try to do it in 1972 and I’ve been doing it ever since. For 48 years I’ve been doing this and loving it.

Copyright QUIBI 2020

We learn in the film that your school motto is “What hurts my brother hurts me.” How does that apply in the competitive world of sports?

It applies in every level of our operations here. It is the ability to understand the other’s struggle and the other’s sufferings. It’s hard to create community and it’s hard to create teams if you can’t understand each other’s reality and each other’s sufferings.

You see in the series it gets rough at the end because of difficulties in giving up “what I want” for “what we need.” That’s the nature of community because if you live in community you’ve got to give up what you want for what the community needs; not easy to do and none of us can do it consistently.

We have a tendency that we do it and then we slip, then we do it; that’s basically our life. Our Father Albert describes the life in the monastery this way. When people ask him what do monks do, he says, “We fall down and we get up, we fall down and we get up; we fall down and we get up,” and that’s life basically. So, the hope is there are more of us on our feet than there are on the ground at a given time, and then we can help people up. That’s it. That’s the secret and that’s what we try to do in this place in school all the time. That’s what you have to do on a team. If you can’t do that it’s hard to be a success.

I was surprised to see how many decisions at the school are made by the students. You give them a lot of leeway and a lot of power.

Our job here as adults is to prevent them from making decisions that will either physically hurt them or long-term hurt them. We’re not going to let kids make decisions because they can’t see 10 or 15 years from now that are going to damage them. So anything short of that, they decide it.

Remember, this place has to be re-created every year. In a company the CEO usually has the job for several years but here the CEO changes every year because there’s a senior year group leader who runs the place and he graduates and leaves. Well it’s early in the year one year and they decided that kids had worked really, really hard and they were going to have only half a day at school and at 12:30 they were going to be over. But we go from kindergarten to grade 12.

They tell me this and I said, “That’s a bad idea,” and they said “No, no, no we’re going to do it, we want to do it, we think it’s a good idea.” I said “I think you’re making a bad mistake, here’s why. First of all, you can’t let the little kids out without parents’ permission.” They said, “They’re going to stay all day.” “Oh, okay so that’s fair the little kids are going to go all day with the older kids having a half day; how is that fair?” “Well, we’ll figure out another way to do something for them.”

So, I said, “If something goes wrong when the middle school kids get out, who’s going to explain it to the parents?” I thought I got them to back off but they sent an email saying that school was going to be over at 12:30. I had about 15 minutes to pull this thing back. They pulled it off. They got in touch with faculty members and called the whole thing off and then we found another day down the road when we could give them the whole day off and not half a day and inform parents and all that but it took hours of discussion.
If they’re going to make it without adult advice they had damn well better be right because no parent is going to go after the 18 year old senior group leader; they’re going to come after me.

The rule is: do not do for kids what kids can do for themselves. So, here’s another example. 152 years we’re an all-boys school, last year two Catholic schools announced they were closing. One was a girl’s academy, the other was a co-ed school.

The girls unbeknownst to me came over here and they had a meeting in the boardroom and they decided that they were going to have a girls division here at St. Benedicts. I’m standing at dismissal time outside my office, outside the trophy room which is where everybody walks by; it’s like Times Square, everybody goes by there to go out the door. So, I’m standing there and one of the leaders, one of the guys, comes out and he says, “You got to come to this meeting.” I said, “What meeting?” “Oh there’s a meeting in the boardroom.” “What are you talking about? I don’t know anything about a meeting.” “Just come in.”

They grabbed me the arm and dragged me into the meeting, I sit down and it becomes obvious to me in about two seconds that the meeting is just about over. I wasn’t being called in to participate in any decisions; I was being called in to be told what was going to happen and that I had to have girls division. I said, “We can’t have a girls division. (1) we’ve never had girls and (2) we don’t have any space.” “Well, let’s figure it out.” I put every roadblock up in the world that I could think of and nothing; they ignored me, none, zero, none of them worked. I couldn’t stop them and to make a long story short, we now have a girl’s division here; created completely by the girls and our guys. I had very little to do with it; it’s amazing.

It’s been a great blessing to have the girls here. It was all created by the kids; they did the whole thing.

What do you want people to learn from watching this series?

I want them to better understand the struggles and the suffering of not just basketball players (these kids happen to be basketball players) but the struggles and sufferings of our brothers and sisters of color in urban America. To have to put all your energy, your effort, as a 16 or 17-year-old as our student C.J. Wilcher said, “to try to help my family,” is not right; it’s just not right.

To have people living in poverty and some living in misery in the midst of the first world is a disgrace to the country. So, I hope people get a sense of the sufferings of kids and the anxiety that some have to live with. Even some parents fall into this. They begin to treat their kids as assets instead of like their children and that’s a disaster. There are a million people in the world that could be their kid’s basketball coach or could be his agent, but there is only one person in the world that can be his mother and only one person in the world that

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Documentary Interview Race and Diversity Spiritual films Sports Stories about Teens

Oliver Sacks: His Own Life

Posted on September 22, 2020 at 5:52 pm

B +
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Profanity: Some mild language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking and drugs
Violence/ Scariness: References and some archival footage of illness and disability
Diversity Issues: A theme of the movie
Date Released to Theaters: September 23, 2020

Copyright Zeitgeist 2020
I wonder what kind of case study Oliver Sacks could write about himself. The author of many books about neurological issues including The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat would make a fascinating subject for clinical assessment himself. It was that book that really transformed my thinking about the highly individualized ways we perceive and process information. While he wrote about extreme cases, from the man with brain damage who lived in an eternal present, with no capacity to create new memories to the post-encephalitic “locked-in” patients portrayed in the movie “Awakenings” and Temple Grandin, who has written so eloquently herself about her autism.

Oliver Sacks has, by any measure, an unusual brain. He has face-blindedness, for example, the inability to recognize even the faces of people he knows very well. And he has an exceptionally unusual combination of the kind of deep humanity that often accompanies empathy that can make it difficult to maintain observational objectivity. But what makes him unusual is that he also has the objectivity to be an exceptional clinician. The post-encephalitic patients had sad for years without any effort to help them before Sacks, who was coming for research, not clinical practice, came up with the idea of treating them with new medication that was being used to help people with Parkinson’s. He has, one commenter tells us, “the moral audacity to think something is alive in there.”

Very significantly, we learn in this film, Sacks revitalized the concept of the medical case study, which was considered outdated in a world driven by data. The case study is like a little novel. It is about the person, not the symptoms. Early in the film, Sacks tells us that he is equally a writer and a doctor, and we can see how each plays a part in his understanding of his patients. He says the primary diagnostic question is, “How are you?” He saw the symptoms as a reflection of cognition and perception, not just a reflection of brain damage or dysfunction. And framing the patient’s experience as a story is in itself therapeutic, making the case for sympathy and imagination. “His attention would release people.” They would be “storied back into the world.”

Sacks, who sees the patients with such wholeness and compassion, is compartmentalized himself. There is not only the writer/doctor split. His middle name is Wolf, and he sees himself as both Oliver and wolf, a yin/yang brain/body divide. He has been criticized for being an observer rather than a theorist, but as Grandin points out, without observation there is nothing to theorize about. Many people had the chance to observe the post-encephalitic patients, but Sacks observed something in them no one else did, and that observation included possibility of change.

In one of his books, Sacks wrote about a patient who could “hear” words spoken but not the inflections that reveal context and emotion, so very concrete and literal, and one who was the opposite, unable to comprehend language but acutely sensitive to tone and expression, who was thus in some ways better at discerning meaning. Sacks’ own superior observational skills were in part made possible by the deficits that eliminated distracting data.

Sacks relies on the support of others in his own life, outsourcing many tasks and even emotions and relationships. He has been in psychoanalysis for half a century. He took a lot of risks and abused drugs in his 20s. He gets help from his editor and close friend on some of life’s mundane details. After a one-night-stand on his 40th birthday, he did not have sex again for 25 years, and it was not until his 60’s that he had a close, intimate romantic relationship. And. we learn, early on in the film, he has been told he has only months left to live. With the same clinical distance he showed toward his own medical issues in A Leg to Stand On, he observes himself as a patient as he creates for us “a master class in how to die.” But it is also a master class in how to live, as he says, how to live with what can’t be changed and frame it as a story to give it meaning.

Parents should know that this movie includes frank discussion of drug abuse and sex as well as depictions including archival footage of people who have serious medical challenges. There is also a reference to Sacks’ own recovery from a serious accident.

Family discussion: How did Sacks’ experience as a child affect his decisions in his career? How did being a writer and a doctor help him be better at both?

If you like this, try: “Awakenings” and Sacks’ books

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