"I want to make a movie. That's my goal, man. Like, what's one of the twists of fate in your life that you would have just never imagined?"
A youthful Ben talks animatedly into the camera ten years before his diagnosis. In the bewildering early stages of his illness, Ben can't hide his fear: "I'm having a hard time typing, my hands are not working...I could have any number of things".
But when Ben receives the devastating diagnosis he is no less in the dark. "They have more treatment for the flu than they do for ALS",
he quips. The most doctors can do is monitor the gradual deterioration of all of his muscles. The only certainty: "patients do not live past six years".
"This is a hard disease to give advice about",
says one of the patients Ben reaches out to, "each person must find it for himself".
After hours of research he comes across 'BuNaoGao' a Chinese herbal medicine, which is "not a cure, but an oasis in the desert of ALS".
Ben's indomitable spirit is spurred when he notices a slight improvement and he heads to China to meet the creator of BuNaoGao. "My body is about 15% dead',
Ben says defiantly, "but I'm also 85% alive".
Eastern medicine might have the answer. "Everyone I've talked to with ALS in America, they're not doing too well, they're in wheelchairs"
, says Todd, a fellow sufferer living in China. Then Ben stumbles across a controversial foetal cell surgery, believed to allow ALS sufferers to run again.
"It will get you a new life",
says Danny Vyvey. Before the operation he couldn't take a shower on his own. Ben goes ahead with the surgery and his father begins scheduling many ALS patients for Dr Huang. But the surgery doesn't work. Dr Huang comes under increasing criticism from the Western medical establishment and Ben's options have run out.
"Probably the thought [of suicide] runs through my head once a day",
Ben admits. Yet through the twin passions of his son and his film, Ben somehow comes close to that purpose driving us all: "I wish I was a good enough artist to make this movie without having the disease",
he grins through tears. By turns amusing and tragic, 'Indestructible' is one of the most intimate and powerful films you'll see on a degenerative illness.
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Best Feature Documentary, Raindance Film Festival
Best Feature Documentary, Cinequest Film Festival
Best Feature Documentary, Byron Bay Film Festival
Best of Festival, Oxford International Film Festival
Executive Director's Choice, Astoria International Film Festival
Official Selection, Montreal World Film Festival
Official Selection, Reykjavik Film Festival
Official Selection, FARGO Film Festival
"An immersive, edifying journey of acceptance, setback and strength"
"An autobiographical tour-de-force"
- INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE
- LA TIMES
"A movie of epic dramatic force that holds its own with the best of any major work of cinema"
- CULTURE VULTURE
- THE EPOCH TIMES
"Beautiful and heartrending, 'Indestructible' is likely to be unforgettable"
- **** NEW CITY CHICAGO