The New Orleans Saints are a significant part of the fabric of the city of New Orleans and its incredible culture. This was particularly evident following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when the Saints returned back to their home stadium, the Louisiana Superdome, in September 2006 for the first time since December 2004. During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, The Superdome was used as a “shelter of last resort” to house those in New Orleans unable to evacuate from it. That shelter lasted only a few days as Hurricane Katrina damaged the Superdome, closing it until that September 25, 2006 Monday Night Football game between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons. The energy and environment from the return of the Saints back to New Orleans for that game was palpable and one of the most memorable moments from that win by the Saints was a play made by then Saints defensive back Steve Gleason. Gleason, who blocked a punt that led to the first touchdown of the game, played one more season in the NFL before taking on a more important challenge in his life, ALS, which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Film director Clay Tweel has captured the story of Steve Gleason in the documentary “Gleason” which is highlighted in the information below:
“Gleason” is an amazing, feature-length documentary about the inspiring journey of New Orleans Saints hero and tireless ALS activist Steve Gleason premiering at the Sundance Film Festival this year. At the age of 34, Gleason was handed a death sentence. When doctors diagnosed him with ALS, they gave the former NFL defensive back two to five years to live. So that is what Steve chose to do – LIVE both for his wife and newborn son and to help others with this disease.
Directed by Clay Tweel (“Finders Keepers”, “Print The Legend”), the film incorporates more than 1300 hours of intimate and breathtaking footage (filmed over 4 years) of personal video journals from Gleason for his then-unborn son to footage of his globe-trotting adventures undertaken as part of his mission to live his life to the fullest and provide hope for those around him. Some of it was filmed by Steve himself and later, when he could no longer hold a camera, he allowed others to film his life.
In the film, we see Steve at the highest of human experience – the mountains of Peru, the birth of his son – and the lowest of lows – the deterioration of his body, the emotional confrontation with death. This remarkable footage captures the intersection of the deeply personal and the profoundly universal feelings of life. “Gleason” is not only is about Gleason’s strength as an activist, but as a husband and father. The film ultimately centers around the universal story of family relationships, especially between a father and son.
You can watch a clip of “Gleason” here. It debuts at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, January 23rd.