Festivus Film Festival

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It's beyond moving. You have real talent, and you've used it for a sacred purpose. You've enriched us all, and I'm very grateful.
Daniel Gordis, Ph.D.


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Ben Byer was born in Chicago in 1971.  He was diagnosed with ALS in 2002.  During the 31 years between these two occasions he has done many things, mostly legal.  After graduating from Evanston Township High School he studied Journalism at Indiana University and Film Theory at The University of Paris where he made short films on 8mm.  A job as a translator at the Cannes Film Festival led him to Hollywood where he worked for a producer of B-movies.  Returning to Chicago he took up acting and has since performed on many of that city's notable stages including Steppenwolf Theatre, Organic Theatre, Trap Door Theatre, European Repertory Company, Circle Theatre, Café Voltaire and the Staddschowburg Theatre in Amsterdam.  Like all struggling actors he left for Los Angeles and found himself selling beef out of the back of a truck.  This unsavory experience inspired him to write his first play, Take it Deep, which was produced to much success shortly before being diagnosed with a fatal neurodegenerative disease.  Unable to write or perform, Ben turned his attention towards film directing, a vocation more suited to the disabled.  In 2003 he co-founded ALS Film Fund with his sister Rebeccah Rush to produce original works of art, whether film, theatre, sculpture or other intended to create positive change for ALS sufferers around the world. 
Rebeccah Rush is a newcomer to the world of filmmaking. Since earning her BFA in glassblowing and crafts from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in 1996, she has studied with and worked for many notable glass artists around the United States. In fall of 1999, Rebeccah returned to Chicago to teach and work with glass in addition to producing Indestructible. She brings an extensive array of relevant professional history to this project, which includes marketing, sales, project management, event planning, publishing, bartending and administration. As Ben’s sister, Rebeccah has a strong personal attachment to this project. She recently moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina with her husband Drew and newborn son Henry.
Roko Belic received an Academy Award nomination, the Audience Award at the Sundance Film festival and numerous other awards around the world for his film Genghis Blues. His credits include programming on PBS, FOX, KRON and Tuva Television. Belic's project and assignments have taken him to over 20 countries including Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Tibet, Malawi, Croatia, Republic of Tuva and China. Belic is in the final stages of his second feature film, Twilight Men. Through his work, Belic hopes “to play a role in bridging the gaps which still hold nations and people apart.”
Tim Baron began working on Indestructible three years ago as a part-time job which proceeded to consume his entire life. In addition to writing and directing several short films, Tim has worked as a freelance editor for the past seven years. His credits include Charlotte Sometimes, Down into Happiness and The Fire Within. Recently, Tim co-founded the documentary production company Loudspeaker Productions. He is currently directing and editing their first feature, Laborland.
Alison Chesley is a Chicago-based cellist who has become known for her unique sound and compelling stage performance. Using the tools of a lead guitarist to compose and perform what are essentially rock songs without words, she channels her sensibilities and experience as a rock musician through a classical instrument. A founding member of Epic Records recording artist Verbow, Alison has also worked and recorded with musicians such as Bob Mould, Disturbed, Frank Orrall, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Mono and Archer Prewitt, among others. In addition to her debut solo album, Helen Money, she also recently completed the full-length album Aural Anarchy with poet Krista Franklin, exploring the life, work, mythology and influence of Jimi Hendrix, and is currently composer-in-residence for Mordine and Co. Dance Theater.

Back in the early-eighties, during down time in his former first love and career as a high profile international jewel thief, David had taken up the art of digitizing and manipulating audio. After deciding to leave his controversial life behind him, he embarked on a life-long pursuit, a trans-dimensional pilgrimage if you will, of manipulating the reality of what you hear in your everyday life. DavidSuycott.com