OLIVER SACKS: HIS OWN LIFE
by Ric Burns
A month after receiving a fatal diagnosis in January 2015, Oliver Sacks sat down for a series of filmed interviews in his apartment in New York City. For eighty hours, surrounded by family, friends, and notebooks from six decades of thinking and writing about the brain, he talked about his life and work, his abiding sense of wonder at the natural world, and the place of human beings within it. Drawing on these deeply personal reflections, as well as nearly two dozen interviews with close friends, family members, colleagues and patients, and archival material from every point in his life, this film is the story of a beloved doctor and writer who redefined our understanding of the brain and mind.
Directed by Ric Burns
Produced by Leigh Howell, Bonnie Lafave, Kathryn Clinard
Executive Producer for Vulcan Productions: Paul G. Allen
Executive Producer for Vulcan Productions: Carole Tomko, Rocky Collins
Executive Producer for American Masters Pictures: Michael Kantor
Executive Producer for The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation: Doron Weber
Executive Producer for Motto Pictures: Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements
Executive Producer for Steeplechase Films: Arthur G. Altschul Jr., Margaret Munzer Loeb, Nion Mcevoy,
Regina K. Scully, Geralyn White Dreyfous
Executive Producer for HHMI Tangled Bank Studios: David Guy Elisco, Sean B. Carroll
Executive Producer for ITVS: Sally Jo Fifer
Executive Producer for Passion Pictures: John Battsek, Nicole Stott
Executive Producer for Sandbox Films: Greg Boustead
Edited by Li-Shin Yu, Tom Patterson with Chih Hsuan Liang
Director of Photography: Buddy Squires, A.S.C.
Music Composed, Orchestrated, and Performed by Brian Keane
Senior Creative Consultants: Kate Edgar, Bill Hayes
DIRECTOR - RIC BURNS
Ric Burns is a documentary filmmaker and writer, best known for his eight-part, 17-hour series New York: A Documentary Film, which premiered nationally on PBS to critical acclaim (1999, 2001, 2003). Burns has been writing, directing and producing historical documentaries for over 25 years, since his collaboration on the PBS series The Civil War (1990), which he produced with his brother Ken and co-wrote with Geoffrey Ward. Since founding Steeplechase in 1989, he has directed many films of note for PBS including Coney Island (1991), The Donner Party (1992), The Way West (1995), Ansel Adams (2002), Eugene O’Neill, Andy Warhol (2006), Into the Deep: America, Whaling & the World (2010), Death and the Civil War (2013), American Ballet Theatre: A History (2015), Debt of Honor: Disabled Veterans in American History (2015), The Pilgrims (2015), VA: The Human Cost of War (2017), and The Chinese Exclusion Act (2018). His work has won numerous film and television awards including six Emmy awards, three Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Journalism awards, two George Foster Peabody Awards, two Organization of American Historians’ Erick Barnouw prizes, three Writers Guild of America Awards for Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Writing, and the D.W. Griffith Award of the National Board of Review. Burns was educated at Columbia University and Cambridge University. He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons.
TELLURIDE 2019〡NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL 2019〡HAMPTONS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2019〡AFI FEST 2019〡BIG SKY 2020〡GLASGOW FILM FESTIVAL 2020〡FULL FRAME 2020〡DOCVILLE 2020〡CPH:DOX 2020〡DOCAVIV 2020
"A tender and thrilling look at the sacred demons that drove the poetic neurologist of Awakenings..."
"Beautiful and honest study of an amazing man... Take your pick of extraordinary moments in this excellent documentary about the neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks. In 2015, aged 82, knowing he had months to live, Sacks sat down at home in New York and talked to the camera with great honesty."
- The Guardian
"The innovative wordsmith's time spent in and outside of the world of neurological studies is captured in this portrait of both his breakthroughs and insecurities."
"Ric Burns’ majestic documentary, covers all eight decades of the unconventional physician’s life..."
- Los Angeles Times
"... beautifully presents a portrait of his compassion and bravery."
- New York Times