PN 38: Clay Tweel on “Gleason”

New Orleans Saints football player Steve Gleason became a sports hero one year after Hurricane Katrina when he blocked a kick that became a symbol of the city’s comeback. In 2011, he announced he had ALS – known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease – that typically causes death in two to five years. The documentary “Gleason” follows the athlete as he copes with the disease, supported by his wife Michel Varisco. The film has a strong theme about the meaning of fatherhood as we watch Gleason leave a video record for his young son Rivers.

Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews “Gleason” director Clay Tweel about the making of the film. This is Tweel’s fourth documentary after “Make Believe” about teenage magicians; “Print the Legend” about pioneers of 3D printing; and “Finders Keepers” about a bizarre dispute over a mummified leg. Tweel broke into documentary working as an associate producer on “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters,” directed by Seth Gordon who’s a producer on “Gleason.”

Other names that come up in this episode are “Gleason” cinematographers David Lee and Ty Minton-Small. And Tweel discusses his family connection to Muhammad Ali.

This episode was recorded at SVA’s MFA Social Documentary Film Program.

On Twitter: @GleasonMovie @TeamGleason @PureNonfiction @thompowers

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