Oliver Sacks: His Own Life


Centerpiece Film

Monday, April 27, 2020
5:30 PM & 8 PM @ National Museum of American Jewish History

Buy Tickets Here

General Admission: $15 | Senior: $13 | *Students: $6

*Because student ID is required, tickets may only be purchased in-person.

Director: Ric Burns
Genre: Documentary Feature
Country: USA
Year: 2019
Running Time: 1 hr 51 min
Language: English

Philadelphia Premiere
Oliver Sacks (1933 – 2015) was an empathetic outsider whose life struggles and love of science led him to make significant breakthroughs in how the medical community treats those with neurological disorders today. His tale of perseverance over chaos and journey to redemption is more than a portrait of a brilliant mind: it is an elegy to anyone who knows what it is like to have stared at the abyss for far too long. Revealing intimate details of his battles with drug addiction, homophobia, and a medical establishment that refused to recognize his legitimacy until decades after the fact, in OLIVER SACKS: HIS OWN LIFE, Sacks does not shy away from exploring the sacred demons that drove his excellence.

Fans of Sacks’ literary canon or articles in The New Yorker, as well as those familiar with his work through Penny Marshall’s hit film, Awakenings (1990), will appreciate the space director Rick Burns bids the neurologist to speak frankly about his fears, failures, and achievements, not to mention the doc’s plethora of interviews with illustrious practitioners, colleagues, patients, and lifelong friends. Meanwhile, those who have never heard of the American icon may use the film as a comprehensive primer on Dr. Sacks’ innovative and unorthodox contributions as a clinical physician, neuroscientist, storyteller, and observer of human nature.


Official Selection:

  • AFI Fest
  • Atlanta Jewish Film Festival
  • Hamptons International Film Festival
  • New York Film Festival
  • San Francisco Jewish Film Festival
  • Telluride Film Festival


  • Audience Award for Best Documentary – Hamptons International Film Festival


  • “A sharp tribute to a healer who almost failed to heal himself…..One of the surprising and moving lessons of this revealing film is how often the most gifted people are unappreciated.” (Stephen Farber, The Hollywood Reporter)
  • “A tender and thrilling look… A portrait at once tender and thrilling, a movie that presents us with a man who led an eccentrically defiant, at times reckless existence that was the furthest thing from cunningly planned…What he saw is that we were all, in our ways, afflicted and all unique. And therefore all extraordinary.” (Owen Gleiberman, Variety)