New to DVD/VOD this week:
JIM ALLISON: BREAKTHROUGH
Seattle, IFF Boston, Woods Hole, Full Frame, DocLands, , Minneapolis-St Paul, Sedona
A Texan scientist doggedly pursues immunotherapy as a potential way to cure some cancers.
Bill Haney’s film tells the story of Nobel Prize winner Jim Allison and his development of ipilimumab, an immunotherapy drug. Affected early in life by his mother’s death from cancer, he has spent decades working on an effective cure for some kinds of cancer in the controversial field of immunotherapy – essentially treating not the cancer but the body’s immune system as a way for it to fight off the cancer itself. While Allison should make for a compelling subject, not only for his lifelong scientific mission, but for his maverick demeanor, Haney unfortunately takes a very straightforward, old-fashioned biographical approach that feels promotional and educational TV at the same time. Where the film could have shined is in its profile of Sharon Belvin, a woman who benefited from his research, but her story appears in awkwardly intermittent segments that feel like interruptions, robbing them of their impact.