A documentary about Steve Gleason, the former New Orleans Saints defensive back who was diagnosed with ALS in 2011, will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
“Gleason” is among 16 films in the Sundance documentary competition. One of the world’s most important film festivals, Sundance is Jan. 21-31 in Park City, Utah.
Gleason was 34 when he learned he had ALS, a neuromuscular disorder also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Doctors predicted he had two to five years to live. He later founded Team Gleason, an organization dedicated to the fight against ALS, finding a cure for the malady and helping others who are afflicted with it.
Directed by Clay Tweel, “Gleason” documents Gleason’s life with his wife and newborn son and his Team Gleason work.
Gleason posted his response to Sundance’s acceptance of “Gleason” on the Team Gleason website:
“I’m humbled to share some exciting news with you today. The Sundance Film Festival has just announced that our feature-length documentary ‘Gleason’ has been accepted into the Documentary competition and will premiere in front of audiences for the very first time.
“For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Sundance Film Festival, founded by the incomparable Robert Redford, has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the last three decades. We could not be more honored to screen the film here in front of tens of thousands of people in Park City this January.
“As you may know, this project began as a series of personal video journals for our son Rivers, as a way of sharing my life, who I am, and love for him, when I was first diagnosed with ALS in 2011. Although it has been a uniquely difficult journey at times, we believe it is an important message to share. Our film is not just focused on living with ALS, but on a more universal story, exposing the resilience of the human spirit, when faced with extreme adversity.
“The hope is that this film will be a catalyst for positive change and choices for those who face major challenges in life. Thanks to my extraordinary family, friends, ‘film guys’, as well as talented director J. Clay Tweel, that this story will be told. If there is a takeaway, we believe those who watch might think differently about life, love and family.”
Gleason played for the Saints from 2000-2008. The punt he blocked on the night the Mercedes-Benz Superdome reopened after Hurricane Katrina made him a local sports hero.