Ady Barkan and his wife Rachael always said they were the luckiest people they knew. In the summer of 2016, the Yale law grad’s career as a public interest lawyer was thriving, and Rachael had just given birth to their beautiful baby boy. Then, like a thunderbolt, Ady is diagnosed with ALS, a deadly disease that will soon paralyze his entire body.
During a chance encounter on an airplane, Ady runs into Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, the deciding vote on Trump’s Tax Bill which threatens to gut Medicare and Medicaid—programs that Ady will need to rely on as his disease progresses. Ady pleads with the Senator to “be a hero” and vote no on the bill which could save his life. This conversation, captured on video, goes viral before the plane lands.
Capitalizing on the momentum of his new public platform, Ady launches the “Be a Hero” campaign to replace the politicians who voted to take away his health care. Joined by a motley crew of activists, they venture out in a handicap-accessible RV across the country and launch the most unlikely political movement in a generation.
Through the journey we take audiences behind-the-scenes into what it takes to build a movement, the power of personal storytelling as a tool for change, and the poignancy of a dying man reminding us to act now to shape a better future. Ady’s story urges us to ask ourselves what kind of mark we want to make on our society, and what we are willing to give to achieve it.
Nicholas Bruckman, Director
Nicholas produced the feature film VALLEY OF SAINTS, which won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Independent Spirit award. The film was released on Netflix and was a New York Times Critics Pick.
He previously directed the feature documentary LA AMERICANA, which won the best documentary prize at the NY and LA Latino Film Festivals. The film broadcast worldwide on networks including PBS, Nat Geo, and Al Jazeera.
Nicholas' work has received support from foundations including the Fledgling Fund, Cinereach, NYSCA, NYFA, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. He is the founder of People's Television, a New York and D.C.-based branded & original content company.
Amanda Roddy, Producer
Amanda is a producer with People's Television. During her career, she has produced film projects for clients such as The Nature Conservancy, CoverGirl, Cambridge University Press, and The Center for Popular Democracy.
She also wrote, directed and produced the payday lending documentary Bleed Them Dry, a film featured on the National Consumer Law Center’s website for over a year. Before working at People’s Television she spent two years working as an associate producer for emmy-award winning director, Ben Loeterman, in Boston. There she worked on the PBS feature documentary 1913: Seeds of Conflict and Portman in Hollywood.
Kent Bassett, Editor
Kent Bassett is an Emmy-nominated editor and filmmaker. He recently edited the feature documentary Standing Up, about three unlikely aspiring comedians, which premiered at DOC NYC and will be distributed by Gravitas Ventures. He also cut the feature documentary Personal Statement, about youth leaders fighting to expand college access, which premiered at AFI Docs and broadcast on PBS America ReFramed.
In TV, Kent worked as an editor on shows including Top Chef and The Real L-Word. He directed and edited the forthcoming documentary, This Might Hurt, about chronic pain and the mind-body connection.