Written and directed by Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan
Featuring: Stephen Heywood, James Heywood, Benjamin Heywood, Wendy Heywood
This documentary is an intimate look at one family’s response to their son and brother’s ALS diagnosis. The disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. As of today, there is no cure for this devastating disease.
Stephen Heywood was only 29 when he was diagnosed. As his family rallied around him, they came to the conclusion that more could be done to combat this terrible disease. With the clock running, this family established the ALS Therapy Development Foundation. This documentary follows their efforts to bring the scientific efforts together, abandoning the protocols of the established community. With James Heywood at the lead, they fund-raised and fought to get more support. For the family this is an obviously personal battle, as they fight to preserve the life of Stephen. The film also acknowledges the wider possibilities of their efforts in finding a cure.
This is a poignant documentary that feels far more intimate than I expected. Stephen’s own fears and frustrations are clearly communicated, as well as those of his family. The highs and lows of the work are captured, as well as the consequences on the personal lives of everyone involved. Oscar nominees, Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan (The American Experience) do a wonderful job putting months of footage together, allowing the story to unfold with brutal honesty.