Sundance 2013 welcomes back another pair of alumni filmmakers with the next US Documentary Competition title: Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine’s LIFE ACCORDING TO SAM, about one driven family’s mission to combat the rare disease threatening their young son.
Sundance Program Description:
Progeria is an extremely rare and fatal disease, exemplified by accelerated aging in the children who are afflicted by it. There is no treatment. There is no cure. Enter Doctors Leslie Gordon and Scott Berns. When their son, Sam, was diagnosed with progeria at age two, the prognosis was grim—the couple were simply told to enjoy the few years they had left with their only son—but they weren’t willing to give up that easily. They spearheaded a campaign to save Sam and the other children in the world who share this devastating illness. In a little more than a decade, their extraordinary advances have led not only to identifying the gene that causes progeria and testing the first experimental drug to treat it but also to the amazing discovery that it is linked to the aging process in all of us.
With LIFE ACCORDING TO SAM, directors Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine return to the Sundance Film Festival (WAR/DANCE won the Documentary Directing Award in 2007) with a deeply touching account of one family’s courageous fight, reminding us to make the most of our lives in the time we are given.
After its win at Sundance, WAR/DANCE (2007) picked up a number of additional awards on the festival circuit and was nominated for a Best Documentary Oscar the next year. The Fines have also won multiple Emmy Awards. Their current project was produced by Sheila Nevins’ HBO Documentaries and will be screening on HBO later in 2013.
Why You Should Watch:
Leslie is an inspirational subject, both as a mother and as a doctor – surprisingly, in many ways she’s as much the core of this emotionally affecting film as Sam himself, and a figure with such a determined presence that viewers will find an easy time identifying with. For his part, Sam is a really great, self-possessed kid with a fantastic approach to the hand he’s been dealt by life. Most importantly, the Fines have crafted a hopeful portrait that far transcends any simple, maudlin “disease of the week” treatment to demonstrate instead a mother’s love for her child, and for others like him.
While the project doesn’t have a standalone website, check out Fine Films’ website and Facebook page for updates. For the Fines’ thoughts on the film, check out their Meet the Artists profile for Sundance and Indiewire interview. For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph.