Former NFL player Steve Gleason set out to make a lasting impression for his son: to impart what fatherhood means and to teach his son about the priorities of life. So, he started a video blog where he directly spoke to his unborn son through the eye of the camera. Director Clay Tweel then crafted a documentary from these videos to create a touching and thought-provoking film dealing with the themes of life, death, and survival. In the powerful new feature film Gleason, Steve’s personal story resonates on an emotional and inspirational level.
Diagnosed with ALS shortly before his wife’s pregnancy, Steve was prompted to create a lasting memory of his personality in a race race against time. Always driven as an athlete, he had already left his legacy as a NFL player for the New Orleans Saints by blocking a punt on the team’s initial home game 21 months after Hurricane Katrina. His aggressive, unexpected play and the team’s subsequent win became synonymous with the survivalist strength of New Orleans’ residents.
This same strength of character is clearly evident in Steve’s fight against ALS and his determination to be the best dad he can be. It is heartbreaking to watch his diminishing physical capacities as the disease quickly progresses. The film becomes uplifting, however, as the viewers go on a vicarious journey with Steve — we feel his determination and resistance to failure. While he is concerned about making peace with his own father and imparting wisdom to his baby son, the silent rock of the family is Steve’s wife Michel. She transforms from carefree partner, to supportive wife, to new mother, to full-time caretaker. It would be hard to determine which spouse shows more strength and fortitude.
This film may sound gloomy, but the rock music (he befriends members of Pearl Jam), the amazing experiences Steve has throughout his life, his intelligence, and his philosophical outlook make Gleason a must-see.
The film opens in LA at The Landmark on July 29. gleasonmovie.com