Oliver Sacks: His Own Life (2019)

  • Documentary, Biography, LGBTQ
  • 1h 51m


An autobiographical documentary about the neurologist and literary lion, who maintained a career as a doctor and academic while producing best-selling books, including Awakenings (made into a feature with Robert de Niro and Robin Williams) and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (later an opera by Michael Nyman). Sacks tells of his flight from a repressive London Jewish household to 1960s America, where he became a dedicated Californian sensualist, drug user and hipster, before settling down to his life’s work of studying neurological disorders, treating patients, and writing about both for a popular audience. Eccentric, troubled, and celibate for much of his life, he only addressed his own homosexuality in February 2015, eight months before his death, when he wrote the New York Times memoir article from which this film takes its title. The director is the brother of the celebrated documentarist Ken Burns.

Oliver Sacks: His Own Life won the 2020 Palm Springs International Film Festival Best of the Fest Audience Vote and the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2019 Hamptons International Film Festival.

’…this documentary is a treasure trove full of interesting bits and pieces many of which could easily provide enough material for a film in their own right.’ - Jennie Kermode, Eye For Film.

’…a moving portrait of a man taking deep stock of his life with great satisfaction and verve.’ - Kevin Krust, The Los Angeles Times.

‘This warm and enjoyable portrait reflects Sacks’ compassionate nature as well as his courage.’ - Meredith Taylor, Filmuforia.

CIFF audience comments:

‘A gentle, humorous film giving insight into the mind of a great man.’

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Oliver Sacks, Roberto Calasso, Kate Edgar, Jonathan Miller, Paul Theroux


Ric Burns


Buddy Squires



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