|For media inquiries,
Director of Communications,
(415) 967-2572 (ALSA)
ALS Advocates Scott and Annabel Lew, and Mark Amin of Sobini Films
May 29, 2014 - Los Angeles, California
The ALS Association Golden West Chapter cordially invites you to an evening of elegance at its Hollywood Red Carpet Gala, an event dedicated to conquering ALS. A Night at the Esseys will be held on Thursday, June 5, 2014 at the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, home to the first Academy Awards ceremony, and will feature a wine & champagne reception, live orchestra, gourmet dinner, and live and silent auctions. The Essey Awards are the Golden West Chapter’s highest honor, named for one of the Greater Bay Area Chapter’s founding members, Richard Essey. These awards are presented annually to esteemed members of the ALS community for their outstanding efforts in research, philanthropy and public awareness. Among this year’s honorees, the Golden West Chapter will present a special Spotlight Award to the creators of the award-winning documentary, Jujitsu-ing Reality. Produced by Mark Amin of Sobini Films, the film chronicles the inspirational story of screenwriter Scott Lew and his wife Annabel and shows that the human spirit, creative passion, and the power of love cannot be defeated by ALS.
Mark Amin founded Sobini Films in 2001 to produce specialized and mainstream theatrical motion pictures. In addition to his work at Sobini, Amin served a nine-year term as Vice Chairman and member of the board of Lionsgate Entertainment, Inc. During his tenure, Lionsgate produced and distributed such critically acclaimed films as the Academy Award-winning Monster’s Ball and Crash.
Scott Lew was a successful 33-year old Hollywood film executive turned writer/director who was celebrating his 3rd wedding anniversary to his wife Annabel when he was diagnosed with ALS in June 2003. Despite this devastating news, Scott and Annabel decided to forge ahead with their lives. Over the years, as his disability rapidly progressed, Scott continued to work tirelessly as a screenwriter and also directed his first feature film, Bickford Shmeckler's Cool Ideas. By 2011, Scott had become nearly completely paralyzed; he was dependent upon a ventilator to breathe and used a special laser-controlled computer device to write. Annabel supports him as his primary caregiver while raising their twin sons, Rocky and Roman.
In 2008, Mark and Scott met each other for the first time at a fundraising event for the Forbes Norris ALS Treatment and Research Center at California Pacific Medical Center. “I was impressed by Scott’s enormous passion for life and his determination to continue his writing career, despite the challenges of ALS”, said Mark Amin, founder of Sobini Films. “I had no choice but to get past the shock and sadness of being diagnosed with ALS,” said Scott Lew. “It was a reality I had to deal with. It is like getting hit by a sucker punch. You can get up or stay down. By far, it’s harder for my wife, parents and friends to deal with. They have ALS with me. But they have it by choice. They weren’t diagnosed.”
In 2011, Mark green-lighted production for a project entitled Sexy Evil Genius, and eventually learned that Scott was the screenwriter who had written the feature-length script by painstakingly typing one letter at a time with the help of adaptive laser technology and a computer monitor. “It was remarkable. I would give my notes for the next draft to the producers and was astonished when Scott delivered rewrites only weeks later,” shared Amin. “Most writers take two to three times as long to deliver the same amount of work. That's when I realized how committed and how passionate Scott was about his career.”
“I knew I wanted to be a screenwriter when I was about 18,” shared Scott. “I just got the writing bug and never stopped. Stylistically, I haven’t changed. The biggest challenge in the writing process is that it is very hard to communicate with me, which makes even simple conversation impossible sometimes. The funny thing is that people often talk to me really loudly like I’m deaf, but my ears are one of the few things on my body that work.”
As the film went into production, Mark and Scott developed a deep friendship and mutual admiration for one another. Mark decided to also produce a documentary about Scott, his remarkable wife Annabel, and his writing process. The result, Jujitsu-ing Reality is an award-winning film which was selected for the 2014 documentary short list for Academy Award consideration. It serves as a testament to Scott and Annabel’s perseverance and strength as a family and continues to inspire and educate audiences everywhere. “While I have produced dozens of feature films and won awards for my work, it was such an honor for Jujitsu-ing Reality to be acknowledged in this way,” said Amin. “It resonates with everyone who sees it. I have been fortunate to hear from strangers at film festivals, as well as my own children, about how inspiring Scott's story was for them.”
“I doubt many couples get to know their spouse on the intimate level that we have come to know each other,” shared Annabel Lew. “Even though he is debilitated and I am exhausted mentally and physically, we still do whatever we can to support one another with kind words and affection. I respect my husband deeply and enjoy spending time with him. He is so funny and intelligent. I am thankful for our relationship because it has helped us to endure the challenges that ALS presents.”
appreciate each day as if it could be my last,” shared Scott. “Every moment is
an opportunity to experience something beautiful. I didn’t appreciate that as much before I had
ALS. Above all, I’m motivated by my 3-year
old twins, Rocky & Roman. They make
me want to get up and face the day. I
love seeing the world through their fresh eyes.”
“I consider myself privileged to have met Scott and Ann, to have had the opportunity to work with them, and to help in telling their story,” said Amin. “It is a wonderful reminder that even if life is difficult, sometimes immeasurably so, that strength, passion and love can see us through our hardest and darkest hours. Scott and Ann Lew personify that idea and I'm so pleased that The ALS Association Golden West Chapter is recognizing their passion, strength and love with this award.”
“There is no better example of collaboration, dedication and determination in the fight against ALS than that which we see from Scott and Annabel Lew and from Mark Amin and his team at Sobini Films,’” said Fred Fisher, President and CEO of The ALS Association Golden West Chapter. “A film like Jujitsu-ing Reality is essential to increase awareness and support for people with ALS and their families. This helps The ALS Association Golden West Chapter continue to advance our global research program, our care services program and our public policy initiatives – all of which play key roles in the search for an effective treatment and ultimately, finding a cure for this devastating disease.”