Take a Look at Documentary Spotlight World Premiere Jim Allison: Breakthrough – SXSW Filmmaker In Focus

Take a deep dive into our interview with filmmaker Bill Haney as he tells us about his documentary Jim Allison: Breakthrough (world premiered as Breakthrough). You can watch this film in select theaters now!

In your own words, what does this film mean to you?

Bill Haney: Set in the world of cutting edge science, Jim Allison: Breakthrough showcases the magic of an open heart, an active mind, a courageous spirit and a sense of the blues in imagining, then delivering a better world for millions of people.

What motivated you to tell this story?

BH: Three interwoven threads pulled me to tell the story of Jim Allison: Breakthrough. An unexpected hero with deep humanity, the desire to explore a hidden world that touches us all, but still lies outside our experience and the wish to showcase the powerful, imaginative life of gifted scientists to a society that more commonly associates creativity with the arts.

What do you want the audience to take away?

BH: A deep and abiding sense of Hope.

How did you find your subject?

BH: The extraordinary scientific revolution in treating cancer was well known to me, as I run a biotech company developing lead edge, new drugs for cancer patients. But then I knew little of the amazing tale of the team of pioneers who created the field of immuno-oncology – until Tyler Jacks, an extraordinary scientist himself, shared with me the tale of the harmonica playing, warm-hearted genius, Jim Allison.

What were you doing when you found out you were coming to SXSW?

BH: In Stockholm, for the awarding of the Nobel Prizes.

What made you choose SXSW to showcase your film to the world?

BH: Jim Allison: Breakthrough's story is universal, but its roots are Texan – and SXSW Director of Film Janet Pierson's utterly gracious and thoughtful letter of acceptance.

Do you have a past experience at SXSW that impacted your decision to come back?

BH: Yes. One of my previous films, The Price of Sugar, opened at SXSW and I had a wonderful experience with the festival's audiences – and the film won the Audience Award!

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Jim Allison: Breakthrough - Photo by Dave Pedley

By Neha Aziz