"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. "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.
Starring Ben Byer
Director Ben Byer