Friday, September 21, 2007

Indestructible Midwest Premiere!

Midwest Premiere of 'Indestructible' at the Midwest Independent Film Festival on Tuesday, October 2, 2007.

Doors open at 6 p.m.
Film begins at 7:30 p.m.

Landmark Century Centre Cinema
2828 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60657

Tickets are $10, and can be purchased the day of the event. Ticket price includes a cocktail reception before the film, panel discussion, screening and after party. Visit website for full details.

Writer and Director Ben Byer, Producer Rebeccah Rush and Editor Timothy Baron will be in attendance.

Come support 'Indestructible' in our hometown! Please forward this announcement to your friends, family and colleagues and donate whenever possible.

Awareness means change. You have the power to make a difference.

The ALS Film Fund thanks you for your support.

Special Note: Do you have friends or family on the east coast? 'Indestructible' has also been accepted into the Newburyport Documentary Film Festival in Massachusetts and will be screened on Sunday, September 30th. Spread the word.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Great News

Thank you so much to all who sent their prayers and hopes for Sandy's recovery. I'm glad to report that she's on the mend. After a week in ICU and a week in general hospital care, she's now in the Rehabilitation Center relearning how to care for herself and regain her memory. We've been told that our expectations can be high, that she will in all likelihood regain all that she's lost, but the work ahead for her is challenging. We're grateful, hopeful and looking forward to the day she will be released and home again. Until then, please keep those prayers coming. They mean the world to all of us.

On another happy note, we're home again from Montreal, having experienced the many aspects of a huge film festival, filled with movies from all over the world on a myriad of subjects. I'm happy to report that "Indestructible" received a fantastic review that appeared in Variety and is reprinted below for your enjoyment.

Montreal World Film Fest



An ALS Film Fund production. (International sales: ALS Film Fund, Winston Salem, North Carolina.) Produced by Ben Byer, Rebeccah Rush. Co-producer, Roko Belic. Directed, written by Ben Byer.

With: Ben Byer, Steven Byer, Barbara Byer, Rebeccah Rush, Oliver Sacks, Josh Byer.

An intimate, lacerating, absorbing visual diary of the three-year onset of terminal disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in aspiring filmmaker Ben Byer, "Indestructible" is an immersive, edifying journey of acceptance, setback and strength. Winner of the Maverick Spirit docu award at the 2007 Cinequest fest, the work will resonate beyond fests to ALS sufferers and their circles, with tube exposure and disc sales the obvious path to them.

Commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, after the ballplayer who was among the first known to have succumbed, ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative condition for which there is no cure. It's "brought science to its knees," says one prominent medico marshaled among the requisite talking heads, while another calls it simply "the Grim Reaper." Nerve cells in the central nervous system stop sending messages to the brain, muscles atrophy, movement and speech become impossible -- all in three to five years. Physicist Stephen Hawking is a very rare exception to this timetable, vivid evidence that in the majority of cases, mental faculties remain preserved.

Diagnosed in 2002 at 31, happy-go-lucky Chicagoan Byer is separated from a wife who genially calls him "a freak," but he enjoys a loving relationship with young son John. Year one finds him wisecracking about having more time to watch TV and zig-zagging around the country to interview experts and fellow sufferers, including "Awakenings" author Dr. Oliver Sacks and a woman cared for by her family in Greece.

Year two brings concerted efforts to fight the disease. Byer and his father, Steven -- who confesses, "I don't know muscles from dog food" -- become involved with a Chinese herbal remedy. They fly to China and interview the inventor.

By 2005, Byer is still determined, but clearly deteriorating. He travels to Jerusalem to explore what "Judaism has to offer me" and climb Masada with burly brother Josh. A poignant coda flashes back to Byer's vid diary from years ago, where he expresses a sincere wish to become a helmer and see his work on the bigscreen.

Clearly the work of a man with much to say and little time in which to say it, the pic, punctuated by a vicious argument among his fiercely supportive family members, thrums with urgency, passion and a natural humor much deeper than the unpredictable laughing (and crying) jags symptomatic of the monstrous disease.

Tech credits are fine, particular given the disparate lineage of the material and the timeframe of the production. Lenser and co-producer Roko Belic directed 1999 indie sensation "Genghis Blues." Now in a wheelchair with no remaining arm movement and severely slurred speech, Byer remains inexterminable, and was on hand for most of the Montreal fest at which the pic screened.

Camera (color, DV), Roko Belic; editor, Tim Baron; music, Brendan Canty; associate producer, Baron. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (Documentaries of the World), Sept. 1, 2007. (In Cinequest Film Festival, San Jose.) Running time: 118 MIN.

Variety is striving to present the most thorough review database. To report inaccuracies in review credits, please click here. We do not currently list below-the-line credits, although we hope to include them in the future. Please note we may not respond to every suggestion. Your assistance is appreciated.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


We’re 3 sisters. Sandra, Eleanor, Barbara. In so many ways, Sandy is also my mother, daughter, and most of all, my most wonderful of friends. Last Thursday, Sandy became a casualty of the fierce wind that wreaked havoc on Chicago, hurled her against a wrought iron fence, then pitched her to the ground, wracking her brain into a coma. She’s in the ICU at Northwestern Hospital where I’ve watched her sleep and breathe, tubes everywhere. After four days, she opened her eyes for an instant. On the fifth, some of the tubes were removed. Recovery is slow. The challenge, for those of us who watch, is patience as we move in and out of our lives while Sandy struggles to regain what she’s lost.

Yesterday, I flew to Montreal to celebrate the international debut of “INDESTRUCTIBLE”, and cheer Ben’s success with family and friends joining us for this great event with Sandy in my heart. For day by day commentary, go to Ben’s blog at

Eleanor wrote this letter to Kevin Dutton, the remarkable man who saw Sandy fall, rescued her, called the ambulance, contacted the family.

“Thank you for being an incredible person and saving my sister, Sandy Wallman. If you hadn't been at the right place at the right time, Sandy wouldn't be here today. Sandy is a woman who has remarkable courage and strength and will fight hard to regain her health. She has made the world a better place through love, art, children and grandchildren, as well as her curiosity and tenacity. With the chance you have given her, excellent medical care, and the love and support surrounding Sandy, we hope and pray that she'll continue to improve and begin sharing her life with her family, friends and the world, once again. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for making this possible.”

Kevin answered:
“Thank you for those words you wrote. I can't put into words how humbled I am to have found myself a part of such caring, wonderful people. Your sister must truly be a special woman; even in sickness, it seems, she is bringing love into others lives and for that I am thankful. I can't explain how, but even in those few minutes I was able to spend with your sister I could sense the kind of person that you all know her to be. As much as I was able to keep her calm and relaxed, I felt like she was doing the same for me. I will keep all of you in my prayers and try to share the compassion with others that you have all shared with me.”