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United Kingdom, 2012, 87 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Biographical, Documentary, Medical/Health
Program: DocumentaryLanguage: English
DIRECTOR: Jesse Vile
Producer: Jesse VileEditor: Gideon GoldCinematographer: Carl Burke
Live Skype with Jason Becker following the Saturday 2:45 screening
Against overwhelming odds, guitar virtuoso and composer Jason Becker is still living after having been diagnosed in 1989 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Doctors gave him three to five years to live. Using a music-composing computer program that can read the movements of his head and eyes, Becker kept on composing after he lost control of the rest of his body, and has continued to release albums. His father, also a guitar player, invented a system whereby Becker can spell out words with eye movements that can be quickly translated.
In his first feature-length film, London-based American director Jesse Vile tells Becker’s inspirational story through interviews with his fantastically supportive family, friends, and Becker himself—“talking” with his eyes. Through home movies and photographs from his guitar-playing childhood in Richmond, California, to publication of his photo on the cover of Guitar Magazine in 1989 as winner of its Best New Guitarist award, the first part of the story is one of a musician well on his way to superstardom. When struck by the always-fatal disease, Becker declared he wasn’t ready to go; he had too much to do. One of the longest known ALS survivors, the eternally optimistic Becker continues to share his impressive musical gifts with the world.
Gideon Gold’s editing and insert shots by director of photography Carl Burke propel Vile’s true tale of a man determined to learn, grow, and love when most would retreat into a vegetative state before quietly slipping away. Like the stroke victim in Julian Schnabel’s 2007 The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and the paraplegic in the recent drama The Intouchables, Becker’s uplifts in dealing with what seems like an unsupportable condition.
- JULIET SHERWOOD
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