Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-03-03
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Filmmaker Ric Burns explores life of neurologist/writer Oliver Sacks
by Matt Simonette
2020-10-06

This article shared 1445 times since Tue Oct 6, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


For documentarian Ric Burns, whose work includes New York: A Documentary Film, American Ballet Theatre and VA: The Human Cost of War ( and who co-produced and co-wrote The Civil War ), the tumultuous life of gay neurologist and author Oliver Sacks was prime material for a film profile.

Sacks' gift, Burns said, was giving his patients and subjects ( who often included himself ) "a sense of their own narratives," transforming clinical case histories into rich exercises in storytelling aimed at giving both practitioner and patient insights into the patient's complexities . At one point, the New York Times called him "the Poet Laureate of contemporary medicine."

Examining Sacks' complexities was among the goals of Burns' new film Oliver Sacks: His Own Life, which began streaming Sept. 25. The documentary intercuts between two narratives, Sacks' life and his final six months. Burns began work on the film in 2015, when he was asked to film Sacks as he battled what would prove to be a terminal illness.

"I knew Oliver through his work," Burns recalled. "I admired it enormously. I hadn't been thinking about a film about Oliver, but with that shock out of the blue—a bolt out of the blue—we immediately went in. We didn't raise money. We went, 'You know what? Oliver is one of the personalities of the century. His work has impacted so many people. We felt duty-bound."

Burns shot 90 hours of footage with Sacks over the course of his last months, at one point doing 12-hour interviews for five days in a row. "We got thrown into the 'deep-end of Oliver Sacks' in quite a remarkable way," the filmmaker said.

Many viewers might know of Sacks primarily as the basis for Malcom Sayer, Robin Williams' character in Penny Marshall's 1990 film of Sacks' book Awakenings. That film overlooked a key aspect of Sacks' persona that Burns and the neurologist addressed head-on in their conversations: Sacks' homosexuality.

"Oliver had just published a remarkably candid memoir called On the Move, in which he discussed, as an 81-year-old man, his sexuality, which he'd never discussed outside a very small circle of people," Burns said.

Sacks had what Burns called both a "tormented and wonderful" childhood in his native Great Britain. His parents were both physicians, and he was doted upon by his mother especially. But when, at age 18, he told her that he was gay, she told her son that he had become "an abomination" in her eyes, an episode that left Sacks emotionally scarred. The film also addresses his eventual move to America and the addiction issues he contended with, even as his writings began to take hold with readers, scientists and practitioners.

With the film, Burns explained, "We wanted to give an account that was just as candid as Oliver was now willing to be—about his sexuality, his drug use and his extraordinary conflicts with people in positions of authority. He was fired from every official job he's ever had."

Burns found Sacks to be a compelling subject in part because he mobilized his strengths and passions to "invent" his own job: "He was a scientist, artist, storyteller, doctor. He firmly believed that those things were not only compatible, they were inevitable."

Once Sacks passed away, Burns interviewed numerous other subjects to flesh out the scientist's memories, among them Sacks' partner Billy Hayes, with whom Sacks started a relationship after decades of celibacy. Burns admitted to being almost "embarrassed" by beginning to raise funds for the film mid-production, since he began filming so hastily thanks to Sacks' declining health. Some production expenses had to be put on Burns' credit card.

But the finished product in the end did the same thing that Sacks did in his case histories, Burns said. It captured Sacks' inner life.

"When he was face-to-face with people, it was very difficult for him to both be there and not be there, which a writer can often can do—be present and absent at the same time," Burns explained. "You could feel that wariness in him. But at the same time there was this childlike desire to connect. There was some voice you could almost hear saying, 'Don't say that, Oliver,' and he would say, 'I have to say it.' … You realize that the camera is seeing what can't be seen."

Oliver Sacks: His Own Life can be streamed at kinomarquee.com/film/oliver-sacks-his-own-life/5f331d779759290001908a00 .


This article shared 1445 times since Tue Oct 6, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'The World to Come' film, Dan Reynolds, Broadway, Green Lantern
2021-03-07
The lesbian-themed film The World to Come is available to buy or rent, a press release noted. In this 19th-century romance (from Bleeker Street) that's set in the Northeast, Abigail (played by Katherine Waterston), a farmer's ...


Gay News

Music Box to run Pedro Almodovar films starting March 12
2021-03-04
On Friday, March 12, Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave., and Sony Pictures Classics will present Pedro Almodovar's critically acclaimed English-language debut, the short film The Human Voice, starring Tilda Swinton and freely based on ...


Gay News

Sisters in Cinema brings back Learn & Earn Program: Sisters in Cinema Newsroom
2021-03-02
--From a press release - CHICAGO, IL- Sisters in Cinema, a Chicago-based 501 (c)3 recently in the news for breaking ground on their new Media Arts Center, is proud to announce the return of their Sisters in Cinema Newsroom Program, and ...


Gay News

Awards season kicks off with 2021 Golden Globes
2021-03-01
The 78th Annual Golden Globes Awards were distributed Feb. 28 in a quasi-virtual event hosted by performers Tina Fey at the Rainbow Room in New York City and Amy Poehler at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly ...


Gay News

MOVIES Director Ali LeRoi on his LGBT time-loop film 'The Obituary of Tunde Johnson'
2021-02-28
The Obituary of Tunde Johnson is a movie with some familiar elements—but they're used to make a novel film. The movie uses the time-loop element that's probably most popular in the film Groundhog Day. However, director ...


Gay News

MOVIES Dutch journalist talks about making 'My Friend, the Mayor'
2021-02-17
In the Amazon Prime Video documentary My Friend, the Mayor: Small-town Democracy in the Age of Trump, Dutch journalist Max Westerman profiles friend Sean Strub, an openly gay activist, activist, long-term AIDS survivor and POZ magazine ...


Gay News

New dance film features 46 dancers from 20 countries
2021-02-17
Films.Dance—a global film series produced by and under the creative direction of LA-based Jacob Jonas The Company—continues with Match, the single most expansive collaboration in the 15-film series. Match features ...


Gay News

Showbiz: Jodie Foster, 'Aretha,' gospel singer, Cody Newman, gay actors
2021-02-14
While promoting her new film The Mauritanian, Jodie Foster said she "was a little scared of" acting alongside Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, Yahoo! Entertainment noted. Of Silence (which has its 30th anniversary this ...


Gay News

LGBTQ+ film critics group unveils nominations
2021-02-11
The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics (GALECA) revealed the nominations for the 2021 Dorian Film Awards on Feb. 11. Minari leads the way with six nominations, including best film and best foreign-language film; Nomadland scored five ...


Gay News

MOVIES 'Wonder Woman 1984' coming to PVOD, Digital, Blu-Ray
2021-02-10
The movie Wonder Woman 1984—the sequel starring Gal Gadot, with Patty Jenkins as director—is arriving on Premium Video on Demand (PVOD), 4K, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital, according to a press release from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. ...


Gay News

Groundbreaking ceremony held for Sisters in Cinema Media Arts Center
2021-02-09
Sisters in Cinema held a press conference Feb. 8 at the South Shore Cultural Center to commemorate the construction of its new state-of-the-art Media Arts Center that will be at 2310 E. 75th St. The event, ...


Gay News

Sisters in Cinema groundbreaking Ceremony promises access, training in South Shore
2021-02-05
--From a press release - CHICAGO, IL - South Shore will soon have access to a state-of-the art media facility now that a local organization has begun construction on its new brick-and-mortar home. Sisters in Cinema, a 501(c)3 dedicated to celebrating ...


Gay News

Wizard World Chicago moved from June to August
2021-02-05
Wizard Brands, Inc. announced that its scheduled 2021 live event in Chicago has been postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions and in continued accordance with federal, state and local guidelines. Instead of the original dates of June ...


Gay News

SAG nominations announced; Boseman gets four nods
2021-02-04
Nominations for the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards were announced Feb. 4. On the film side, Deadline noted that the late Chadwick Boseman made SAG Awards nomination history by receiving four nominations: for his lead role ...


Gay News

Donald Trump resigns from SAG-AFTRA; group tersely responds
2021-02-04
Former U.S. President Donald Trump resigned from SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) after the organization's national board recently voted overwhelmingly to find probable cause of ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.