Bill Haney Discusses His Documentary Breakthrough – SXSW Filmmaker In Focus

The 2019 SXSW Film Festival is almost upon us and we can’t wait to have you here! Before you make your way down to Austin, TX, get to know films from our lineup a little bit better with our Filmmaker In Focus series. Dive into our Q&A with director Bill Haney, as he tells us about his film Breakthrough, which will make its world premiere in Documentary Spotlight.

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

Bill Haney: Set in the world of cutting edge science, 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 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: 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!

Add Breakthrough to your SXSW Schedule. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we share more interviews with our SXSW 2019 filmmakers!

Join Us For SXSW 2019

Register and book your hotel now to save! The Film Badge gets you primary access to all SXSW Film events including Film Keynotes and Featured Sessions, world premieres, round tables, workshops, parties, and more. Over the course of nine days, the SXSW Film Festival hosts over 450 screenings! Film registrants also have primary access to Convergence events, including the Comedy Festival and nine unique Conference tracks, as well as secondary access to most Interactive and Music events.

2019 SXSW Film, Breakthrough – Photo by Malinda Allison

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