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Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O’Brien
35-minutes
Mark O'Brien was a poet-journalist who lived in an iron lung for four decades. Incorporating the vivid imagery of O'Brien's poetry and his candid, wry and often profound reflections on work, sex, death and God, this provocative film asks: What is a life worth living? Winner of Best Documentary-Short Subject, 1997 Academy Awards.
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Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O’Brien

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Running Time
35 minutes

Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O’Brien

According to Mark O’Brien, “”The two mythologies about disabled people break down to one: we can’t do anything, or two: we can do everything. But the truth is, we’re just human.”” O’Brien was a frequently published journalist and poet, and a contributor to National Public Radio. He contracted polio in childhood and, due to post-polio syndrome, spent much of his life in an iron lung. Yet for more than forty years, he fought against illness, bureaucracy and society’s conflicting perceptions of disability for his right to lead an independent life. Breathing Lessons breaks down barriers to understanding by presenting an honest and intimate portrait of a complex, intelligent, beautiful and interesting person, who happens to be disabled. Incorporating the vivid imagery of O’Brien’s poetry, and his candid, wry and often profound reflections on work, sex, death and God, this provocative film asks: what makes a life worth living?

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