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photo Breathing Lessons
The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien
By Jessica Yu

ACADEMY AWARD WINNER! According to Mark O'Brien, "The two mythologies about disabled people break down to one: we can't do anything, or two: we can do everything. But the truth is, we're just human." O'Brien was a frequently published journalist and poet, and a contributor to National Public Radio. He contracted polio in childhood and, due to post-polio syndrome, spent much of his life in an iron lung. Yet for more than forty years, he fought against illness, bureaucracy and society's conflicting perceptions of disability for his right to lead an independent life.

Breathing Lessons breaks down barriers to understanding by presenting an honest and intimate portrait of a complex, intelligent, beautiful and interesting person, who happens to be disabled. Incorporating the vivid imagery of O'Brien's poetry, and his candid, wry and often profound reflections on work, sex, death and God, this provocative film asks: what makes a life worth living? OPEN-CAPTIONED

35 minutes
© 1996
Purchase $225 DVD
Order No. QA-180
ISBN (DVD) 1-57295-841-3

Reviews
"Editor's Choice. An excellent portrait that teaches about humanity. Highly recommended." Video Librarian

"An exceptional, clear-eyed revelation of the realities of one man's life an spirit." Booklist

"The range of human emotion is portrayed with such integrity it does not allow for a hint of mawkishness. Funny, poignant, sincere, and powerful." MC Journal

"Extraordinary! The poetic and powerful narrative leave one to ponder even deeper the power of such individuals to have a profound impact on the rest of the human race." Joseph E. Havranek, EdD, CRC, Bowling Green State University

Awards & Conference Screenings
Academy Award, Short Documentary
Golden Gate Award, San Francisco International
Featured at Sundance Film Festival
Special Apple, National Educational Media Network
DoubleTake Documentary Film Festival
Rehabilitation International Film Festival
Columbus International Film Festival
American Psychiatric Association
Museum of Fine Arts - Boston

...and more than two dozen other festivals
and conferences worldwide


Related Films
Luckey: From trying to re-spark his romantic life with his wife Ettie to keeping his work going with his son Spencer, Tom Luckey wrestles with his new condition as a paralyzed person.

Not Just Surviving: Four women who have been living with Spinal Cord Injury for as long as 30 years discuss topics that include rehabilitation, healthcare, sexuality, parenting, menopause, and how to live day-to-day with hope.

Face First: The filmmaker and three others born with facial deformities chronicle both physical pain and the pain of rejection, as well as the strengths that have enabled them to achieve successful adult lives.

Breakaway: This provocative documentary tells the story of the conflicted relationship between two men coping with the consequences of severe, traumatic brain injury.


Reviews

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