Directors Sean and Andrea Fine have been producing, directing and shooting documentaries in over thirty countries, from war zones to the Arctic Circle. Their work has appeared on HBO, Sundance Channel, National Geographic and MTV. The Academy Award nominated and three-time Emmy Award winning duo’s last film was “Inocente,’ a coming of age tale about a homeless teen artist in San Diego. “Life According to Sam” took them over three years to make, and they acknowledge the difficulty in keeping perspective as their biggest challenge working on a project as all-consuming as this one.
What It’s About: “The inspiring account of Dr. Leslie Gordon and Dr. Scott Berns race to save their only son from a fatal aging disease that may one day shed light on aging in us all.”
What It’s REALLY About: “The film reveals the remarkable world of Sam Berns and his family’s commitment to making the most of their time together. ‘You are handed something and what you do with it is what matters and that’s what Sam is doing,’ says his mother. It is easy to think that if your child was given a fatal diagnosis of probable of death by age thirteen, you would fight and be resilient. But would you? And if you did throw every waking hour into finding a scientific breakthrough, how would you balance the time you spend with the son you are trying to save? Boiled down, these are the same quality of life and love decisions that we all are making in our lives. And the kinds of decisions that we ultimately know we will judge our own life by when we reach its end. So it seemed fitting, as the actual film’s end came into view, that the perfect title should be, “Life According to Sam.” Sam’s life is really the path of all our lives. Even on a scientific level, the same abnormal protein in Sam’s body is actually at work in all of our own, aging us day by day. Perhaps one day we will look back at this remarkable boy and know that what cracked the code to aging all started with a boy named Sam.”
What To Do Before Watching Our Film: “We want audiences to check all preconceptions at the door. This is a film that is for everyone and it’s an amazing story. Sam tasked us with one goal. ‘Do not make a movie that leaves you feeling sorry for me’. To the contrary, you will not. You will cheer for Sam, his mother and father and connect to what is beautiful in your own life.”
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What We Shot On: Canon C-300, Canon 5D, mixed with Panasonic Varicam.
Up Next for Us: “We are actively seeking partnerships to make three feature narratives and we have been developing on some incredibly compelling characters that we have come across in our career as documentary film makers. All of these films are based on real stories. It’s a very diverse range of stories, but all are intensely emotional and powerfully visual, simply just epic stories. They are the kind of films we like to go see ourselves.”
Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2013 festival.
Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on January 17 for the latest profiles.