INDESTRUCTIBLE - Scheduled to be released 2006
When filmmaker Ben Byer was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a rapidly progressing neuro-muscular disease, at 31 years of age, the new father was given a prognosis of two to five years to live. Part intimate self-portrait, part medical documentary, and part epic adventure, Indestructible spans five continents and hundreds of viewpoints in a tireless search for hope.
Produced by ALS FIlm Fund in Chicago, Illinois, Indestructible was born out of the need to share the brutal, yet inspiring, reality of ALS, a devastating, mysterious and deadly disease.
“In September of 2002, at 31 years of age, I was diagnosed with ALS, a neuro-degenerative disease that kills 90% of its victims within five years. At the time, I was working as a playwright and actor in Chicago, running a painting company and changing my son’s diapers. Nine months later I began to make a documentary film chronicling my new life, not one I had chosen and unlike anything I ever could have imagined. Traveling by myself and then with a small crew we filmed the isolated world of ALS; interviewing patients and their families, medical professionals, scientists, religious figures and almost anyone we could find. I wanted to know (perhaps naively), “What does it all mean?”
Indestructible is an attempt to understand and accept the reality of a mysterious and deadly disease that has brought science to its knees, an illness that is a paradigm for life’s ultimate challenges. My personal story in the film, and that of every ALS patient, follows this frightening path into an uncertain future. To show the broad and difficult landscape of medicine for ALS, or lack thereof, we have documented mainstream approaches, controversial stem cell surgeries, Chinese herbal treatments, vitamin supplements, vibrating beds, Yoga, and almost anything that might stop the progression of this horrific killer.
My initial purpose in making this film was to share the extraordinary moments, both dark and light, of a life with ALS, and there are many. I now believe Indestructible will be a catalyst, and mark a turning point for the millions who have and will suffer the wrath of this elusive beast, bringing us one step closer to what every sick person wants - a cure. Indestructible has at times provided answers to my questions, if only momentarily, and they are no substitute for my health. In the meantime, I will continue to search. When we unlock the secrets of ALS we will better understand not only neuro-degeneration, but also aging, environment, psychology, spirituality, and what it truly means to be both alive and facing mortality every day.”
- Ben Byer