Oliver Sacks: His Own Life Oliver Sacks: His Own Life Oliver Sacks: His Own Life explores the life and work of the legendary neurologist and storyteller, as he shares intimate details of his battles with drug addiction, homophobia, and a medical establishment that accepted his work only decades after the fact.

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On January 15th, 2015, a few weeks after completing his memoir, the writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks learned that the rare form of cancer for which he had been treated seven years earlier had returned, and that he had only a few months to live. One month later, he sat down with the producers for a series of marathon filmed interviews in his apartment in New York. For eighty hours, across five days in February – and on three more occasions in April and June in places in the Bronx – surrounded by family and friends, books and minerals, notebooks from six decades of thinking and writing about the brain, he talked about his life and work, his dreams and fears, his abiding sense of wonder at the natural world, and the place of human beings within it. He spoke with astonishing candor, and with unflinching honesty – a profoundly gifted 81-year-old man facing death with remarkable courage and vitality who was still vigorous while facing the end. He was determined to come to grips with what his life has meant and what it means to be, as he put it, “a sentient being on this beautiful planet.”

Drawing on these riveting and profoundly moving twilight reflections, Oliver Sacks: His Own Life explores the extraordinary life and work of the renowned neurologist, clinician and writer. With unique access to the extensive archives of the Oliver Sacks Foundation, and featuring nearly two dozen deeply revealing and personal interviews conducted with family members, colleagues, patients and close friends, including Jonathan Miller, Robert Silvers, Temple Grandin, Christof Koch, Robert Krulwich, Lawrence Weschler, Roberto Calasso, Dr. Isabelle Rapin, Billy Hayes, Kate Edgar, Dr. Mark Homonoff, Jonathan Sacks, Steve Silberman, Shane Fistell, Dr. Atul Gawande, and Lowell Handler, among others. The film is in part the biography of an extraordinary physician and writer who “dramatized,” one man later said, “the most strange and thrilling scientific and cultural issue of our time: the nature of the human mind, through the simple act of telling stories.” It is also a deeply illuminating exploration of the science of human consciousness and the nature of subjectivity, and a meditation on the deep and intimate relation between art and science and storytelling.


  • Ric Burns: Director
  • Leigh Howell: Producer
  • Bonnie Lafave: Producer
  • Kathryn Clinard: Producer
  • Paul G. Allen: Executive Producer
  • Carole Tomko: Executive Producer
  • Rocky Collins: Executive Producer
  • Arthur Altschul: Executive Producer
  • Julie Goldman: Executive Producer
  • Christopher Clements: Executive Producer
  • Michael Kantor: Executive Producer
  • David Guy Elisco : Executive Producer
  • Sean B. Carroll: Executive Producer
  • Sally Jo Fifer: Executive Producer
  • John Battsek: Executive Producer
  • Nicole Stott: Executive Producer
  • Greg Boustead: Co-Executive Producer
  • Ingmar Trost: Co-Producer

The Filmmakers

Photo of Ric Burns

Ric Burns Director

Ric Burns is a documentary filmmaker and writer, best known for his eight-part, 17-hour series New York: A Documentary Film...

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Photo of Leigh Howell

Leigh Howell Producer

Leigh Howell has worked for filmmaker Ric Burns at Steeplechase Films since 2010. During that time, Leigh has gone from intern to producer...

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Photo of Bonnie Lafave

Bonnie Lafave Producer

Bonnie Lafave is a senior producer at Steeplechase Films. Prior to working at Steeplechase, she was as a producer with national news...

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Photo of Kathryn Clinard

Kathryn Clinard Producer

Kathryn Clinard joined Steeplechase Films in 2015 after spending two years as an educator with Teach For America – Greater Nashville...

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Photo of Paul G. Allen

Paul G. Allen Executive Producer

1953 - 2018

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Photo of Rocky Collins

Rocky Collins Director of Production

Rocky served as exec producer at Science Channel where he worked...

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