Tribeca Talks At Home: OLIVER SACKS: HIS OWN LIFE and AWAKENINGS: Date/Time: December 28 at 1 p.m. EST

Tribeca Talks At Home: with Robert De Niro, Walter Parkes, Kate Edgar and Ric Burns discussing “OLIVER SACKS: HIS OWN LIFE” and “AWAKENINGS” will go live on the Tribeca Film website at 1 p.m. EST. RSVP to the Tribeca Talks Q&A via Facebook.


12/26 -12/28: Both “OLIVER SACKS: HIS OWN LIFE” and “AWAKENINGS” will be available for 48 hours, only. Virtual tickets are limited to 500 guests via Eventive. Register for your chance to watch both films, RSVP HERE.

These events are made possible in part by HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, a mission-driven production studio dedicated to sharing stories about science and scientists

“Oliver understood the mythic qualities of the Awakenings patients’ stories, and he saw them as heroic,” said Kate Edgar, executive director of the Oliver Sacks Foundation. “He would have enjoyed tremendously the conversation with Bob, Walter and Ric, given its focus on these unique individuals and how they were willing to share their stories with the world. I think he would have appreciated greatly the lessons here for all of us as we navigate what will hopefully be the final months of this horrific pandemic.”

“We’re very pleased to partner with Tribeca to bring this fascinating group of individuals together to reflect on the impact a single person can have on science and the broader world,” said Sean B. Carroll, Head of HHMI Tangled Bank Studios. “At a dark moment in time, these two films remind us of the hope science and compassion can offer.”

“As founding sponsors of Tribeca and a proud funder of Oliver Sacks: His Own Life, we are thrilled to be part of this wonderful and timely double feature,” said Doron Weber, Vice President and Program Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “Awakenings is one superb example of Oliver Sacks’ impact on our culture and our understanding of the humanity of all patients, and in Oliver Sacks: His Own Life, Ric Burns does a masterful job of illuminating the complex life and work of this unique neurologist and clinician.”

"Seeing Awakenings together with Oliver Sacks: His Own Life is eye opening," said Vulcan Productions Executive Producer, Rocky Collins. "One sees the  painful path that brought Oliver to that hospital, and gave him the empathy to understand patients that no one else could."



AWAKENINGS, directed by Penny Marshall, was released in December of 1990 and nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Based on Oliver Sacks’ 1973 book of the same title, the film recounts Sacks’ time in the late 1960s with patients at Beth Abraham Hospital in the Bronx, victims of the 1920s encephalitis lethargica epidemic who had long been given up as hopeless, comatose and unaware of the world around them. The Sacks character – a shy, eccentric doctor played by Robin Williams – understands that the patients are, in fact, alive inside. He observes that they can respond to music, and to human touch, and begins treating them with a new drug, L-DOPA. As his patients awaken, the doctor begins his own awakening to the world around him. AWAKENINGS is available to watch on disc and digital.


Ric Burns’ film “OLIVER SACKS: HIS OWN LIFE was produced by Steeplechase Films, Vulcan Productions, HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, Motto Pictures, American Masters Pictures, Independent Television Service, Inc., Passion Pictures, and Sandbox Films in association with the Artemis Rising Foundation, Arthur Altschul Jr Films, Sutor Kolonko, ARTE and WDR. Executive producers include Paul G. Allen, Carole Tomko, Rocky Collins, Michael Kantor, Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, Doron Weber, Arthur G. Altschul Jr., Margaret Munzer Loeb, Nion McEvoy, Regina K. Scully, Geralyn White Dreyfous, David Guy Elisco, Sean B. Carroll, Sally Jo Fifer, John Battsek, Nicole Stott and Greg Boustead.

Funding for “OLIVER SACKS: HIS OWN LIFE” was provided by National Endowment for the Humanities, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Ford Foundation/ JustFilms, Arthur G. Altschul Jr., Wellcome Trust, Nion McEvoy, Overbrook Foundation, and Vijay Vaidyanathan.

“OLIVER SACKS: HIS OWN LIFE” is represented by Submarine Entertainment and has been distributed by Zeitgeist Films in association with Kino Lorber. The exclusive U.S. broadcast premiere is slated for 2021 on PBS as part of the award-winning American Masters documentary series. It is also available to rent at Kino Now (note that AWAKENINGS is currently available at several streaming services). 

“Oliver Sacks’ book Awakenings was an extraordinary reflection on what constitutes life, as something experienced but also as something viewed,” Ric Burns said. “The film captures beautifully the doctor’s willingness to care, look and explore, finding in his patients – as we find in these characters – real people and their stories. These were exactly the traits we found with Oliver himself, as he explored with us his extraordinary life just after receiving his mortal diagnosis in early 2015.”

Burns’ documentary, which includes rare footage filmed by Sacks of his patients at Beth Abraham, sees “AWAKENINGS” also as a pivotal moment in Sacks’ life both as a physician and a writer. Sacks, whom The New York Times called a “poet laureate of medicine,” was a keen observer of the stories that help define us as human, as well as chronicler of the intersection of the humanities and science.


Steeplechase Films is an award-winning production company founded in 1989 by Ric Burns. Over the past two decades, Steeplechase films has produced 40+ hours of award-winning films for PBS, garnering 13 national Emmy nominations, six Emmy awards, three Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Journalism awards, two George Foster Peabody Awards, and two Organization of American Historians’ Erick Barnouw prizes. Steeplechase has completed numerous historical documentaries, including New York, Eugene O’Neill, Death and the Civil War, and The Pilgrims, Driving While Black: Race Space and Mobility in America and Oliver Sacks: His Own Life.


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 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 Peabody Award-winning Inventing Tomorrow, which premiered at Sundance and aired on PBS/POV. For more information, please visit


Since its inception, Vulcan Productions has leveraged platforms ranging from film and television to XR and other emerging media to produce and distribute content that informs, inspires, and activates audiences – putting stories to work with far-reaching impact campaigns that advance new policies, shift individual behaviors, and contribute to significant institutional change. The team will continue to tell great stories and empower audiences to take action on important issues until Vulcan Productions sunsets in early 2021. During this time of transition, Vulcan Productions will continue to support its partners on existing projects. Vulcan Productions films include The Reason I Jump, Oliver Sacks: His Own LifeGhost FleetThe Cold Blue, Netflix Original: The Ivory Game, the Sundance Special Jury Award-winner STEP, News & Documentary Emmy®-nominated Going to WarGirl RisingRacing Extinction, the Academy Award®-nominated Body Team 12, and emerging media works including Ghost Fleet VRX-Ray Fashion, Drop in the Ocean, and Guardians of the Kingdom.


Motto Pictures specializes in producing and executive producing documentary features and series. Motto has been honored with three Academy Award nominations and multiple Emmy Awards. Founded in 2009, Motto secures financing, builds distribution strategies and creatively develops films with an eye toward maximizing the position of each project in the domestic and international markets. Motto has produced a wide range of award-winning films, working with a line-up of talented and acclaimed filmmakers, that have been featured at the most prestigious film festivals and distributed around the world.  These films include: One Child Nation, Ringside, The Apollo,  Abacus: Small Enough To Jail, The Final Year, The Cleaners, Charm City, The Raft, Take Your Pills, Life, Animated, Weiner, The Music Of Strangers, Best Of Enemies, Art And Craft, The Kill Team, 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets, 1971 ,Solitary, Enlighten Us, Southwest Of Salem, Indian Point, Buck, Sergio, God Loves Uganda, Manhunt, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry and Beware Of Mr. Baker among many others.


Founded in 2016 by executive producer Michael Kantor, American Masters Pictures is WNET’s theatrical imprint for documentaries co-produced by American Masters, the award-winning biography series that celebrates our arts and culture. American Masters Pictures partners with filmmakers, distributors and sales agents on non-broadcast releases including film festivals, theatrical, online, DVD, VOD and OTT, with PBS as the exclusive U.S. broadcaster of all films as part of the American Masters series. Films include Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear, Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, Itzhak, Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You, Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise and Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable. Since 1986, American Masters has set the standard for documentary film profiles, accruing widespread critical acclaim: 28 Emmy Awards — including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special — 14 Peabody’s, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards and many other honors. The series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET. American Masters Pictures will be represented by three films at the Sundance Film Festival in 2021: Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For ItAiley and Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir


ITVS is a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that has, for over 30 years, funded and partnered with a diverse range of documentary filmmakers to produce and distribute untold stories. ITVS incubates and co-produces these award-winning films and then airs them for free on PBS via our weekly series, Independent Lens, as well as on other PBS series and through our digital platform, OVEE. ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. For more information, visit


The National Endowment for the Humanities supports research, education, preservation and public programs in the


The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a New York based, philanthropic institution that makes grants for research in science, technology, and economics; quality and diversity of scientific institutions; and public engagement with science. Sloan's program in Public Understanding of Science and Technology, directed by Doron Weber, supports books, radio, film, television, theater, and new media to bridge the two cultures of science and the humanities. The Foundation works with about 20 film school and film festival partners and has supported over 700 film projects, including over 30 feature films. For more information visit or follow @SloanPublic on Twitter or Facebook.

Sandbox Films is a mission-driven documentary studio that champions excellence in science storytelling. Through co-productions and co-financing opportunities, we collaborate with production partners and visionary filmmakers around the world to tell new stories about science. We seek to illuminate the pursuit of discovery, in all its beauty and sometimes messiness, with stories that humanize science in relatable ways for diverse points of view. Sandbox Films, LLC is a registered affiliate of the Simons Foundation. More info at


Passion Pictures’ first feature documentary One Day In September was conceived and produced by John Battsek and went on to win an Academy Award® in 1999. Passion has since been at the forefront of feature documentary production – as evidenced by a prolific run of multi-award winning films, a reputation for securing international theatrical releases, and – as of 2018 – an unprecedented thirteen consecutive years premiering films at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival.  Notable titles include: Restrepo, The Tillman Story, The Imposter, Searching For Sugar Man, Winter On Fire And Listen To Me Marlon – these films and others see Passion collaborate with some of the most exciting filmmakers, writers, journalists, editors, composers, cinematographers and production partners working in the industry today. We hope our films connect, move and inspire through the power of extraordinary true stories.