“Oliver Sacks: His Own Life” is Available to U.S. College Campuses, Educational Institutions and Select Nonprofits for Free Educational Screenings

Request your free streaming link or DVD courtesy of HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, dedicated to inspiring curiosity about science and scientists

Chevy Chase, MD (September 30, 2021) - HHMI Tangled Bank Studios is honored to offer the thought-provoking and poignant film “Oliver Sacks: His Own Life” to aspiring scientists, educators, doctors, nurses, writers and fans of Oliver Sacks for free virtual and in-person educational screenings. Sacks, the author of many classic books including “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” and “Musicophilia,” wrote for a range of publications from neurology journals to The New Yorker and The New York Times. He died in 2015, only months after filming this documentary with award-winning director Ric Burns.

“Oliver Sacks: His Own Life” gives viewers an intimate look into the life of the famed neurologist, educator 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, the film is in part the biography of an extraordinary physician and writer. It is also a deeply illuminating exploration of the science of human consciousness and the nature of subjectivity and a meditation on the profound and intimate relation between art and science and storytelling.

“Oliver Sacks was a pioneer in so many ways and pushed many boundaries in the field of medicine,” said Sean B. Carroll, head of HHMI Tangled Bank Studios and vice president for HHMI’s Department of Science Education. “We hope that students who see this film will see that science benefits from a diversity of experiences and backgrounds, and see a path for themselves in science and medicine.”

As a gay man forced to hide his identity, Sacks reveals, in his own words, the pain he felt when he came out to his mother and his long struggle with addiction. The film’s candid look at Sacks’ life resonated with both critics and viewers eager to get to know Sacks on a personal level. Musician Josh Groban said, “This made me cry. What an incredible doc about an incredible man.” Surgeon, writer and public health expert Atul Gawande, who knew Oliver and was personally inspired by him, said the film “made him miss [Sacks] even more.”

“Oliver Sacks: His Own Life” debuted at the Telluride Film Festival to rave reviews and premiered on American Masters/PBS in April 2021. The film’s inspiring message and Sacks’ heart-warming optimism made it a New York Times ‘Critics’ Pick.’ And Science called the film, “a vivid portrait of an ebullient, provocative, brilliant man who transformed the practice of medicine.”

“One of the most remarkable things about Sacks was his passion for medicine and the human mind,” said director Ric Burns. “His writings have inspired so many to pursue a career in science that it only makes sense that students should have a chance to learn more about the man whose writings brought the love of medicine to the general public.”

In addition to free access to stream or screen the film, HHMI Tangled Bank Studios is offering a Resources Guide with an introduction from surgeon and author Atul Gawande, M.D., discussion questions, and additional viewing and reading recommendations to support continued education on topics raised in the film and Oliver Sacks’s body of work.

Interested educators and organization leaders can request a free copy “Oliver Sacks: His Own Life” and corresponding complimentary resources for educational screenings by completing this form.

“Oliver Sacks: His Own Life” is a production of Steeplechase Films/Vulcan Productions/Motto Pictures/American Masters Pictures/PBS and Independent Television Service, Inc./HHMI Tangled Bank Studios/Sandbox Films/Passion Pictures/Arthur Altschul Jr Films/WDR/Arte

Funding for “Oliver Sacks: His Own life” has been provided by Alfred P. Sloan Foundation/National Endowment for the Humanities/Overbrook Foundation/New York Community Trust/JustFilms/Ford Foundation/Margaret and Daniel Loeb Foundation/Nion McEvoy/Artemis Rising Foundation/Wellcome Trust/Oliver Sacks Foundation/Vijay Vaidyanathan

To learn more about “Oliver Sacks: His Own Life” please visit For more information, please contact Alex Pearson at

About HHMI Tangled Bank Studios
HHMI Tangled Bank Studios is a mission-driven production company that crafts exceptional films about science and scientists for broadcast, theatrical and digital distribution. As storytellers within a world-class science organization, we are uniquely positioned to shine a light on some of the most significant scientific breakthroughs of our time—and explain why they matter. Recent films include CNN’s “Race for the Vaccine”; “The Serengeti Rules,” which won an Emmy for outstanding nature documentary; Ric Burns’ “Oliver Sacks: His Own Life”; “The Farthest—Voyager In Space,” which won an Emmy for outstanding science documentary; and the Peabody Award-winning “Inventing Tomorrow,” which premiered at Sundance and aired on PBS/POV. For more information, please visit