ReelAbilities Film Festival 2020 Review: OLIVER SACKS: HIS OWN LIFE

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

So, this is my first review after a several week break courtesy of COVID-19. To clarify, I have been most fortunate (so far) that I have not fallern ill to the utterly frightening Coronavirus that has spread like wildfire across the globe. Unfortunately, though, the quarantines resulting from the pandemic had temporarily derailed my access to films up for review. Thankfully, studios, film festivals, and publicists have adjusted accordingly to the current state of affairs.

Besides 2020’s SXSW, the ReelAbilities Film Festival in Manhattan has been forced to adapt to an online virtual festival and my favorite New York publicist came through with some online screeners fir me to review. Now considering that we are in the midst of a medical crisis, I gravitated toward what I hoped would be an uplifting.and fascinating documentary about famous medical physician, the late Dr. Oliver Sacks. This truly fascinating and moving film did not disappoint. Sacks might have been well known to his fans and ther medical community as an amazingly creative and intelligent doctor and world renowned for his case studies, but this documentary sheds light onto his personal life.

Director Ric Burns presents a comprehensive and candid portrait of a genuinely remarkable man whose own personal turmoil helped shape him into an empathetic and passionate medical professional. Known best for his work in the late 1960s, which is documented in his first book, Awakenings, Sacks has lived an incredible life full of highs, lows, loneliness and love. Not long before his death in 2015, Sacks would write and publish his final book, On The Move: A Life, his most personal autobiography. The documentary promises to be as candid as his last memoir and delivers as a moving, revealing, and somewhat amusing portrait. It is definitely a captivating documentary for those familiar with Oliver Sacks, but one doesn’t even have to be at all familar with the good doctor to enjoy and appreciate his story.

In the coming days, I will contine to review films from the ReelAbilities Film Festival as I delve into more screeners. For those interested in the festival and its offerings, go to for all the details. Stay safe!

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