Steve Gleason documentary selected for Sundance Film Festival

METAIRIE, La. -- Steve Gleason has inspired a bill signed into law by President Barack Obama, spoken to the United Nations and journeyed to the summit of Machu Picchu, among many other remarkable accomplishments during his crusade against ALS.

Now, Gleason’s heartbreaking, inspiring story is headed for the big screen at the Sundance Film Festival.

"Gleason," chronicling the former New Orleans Saints player’s battle against the debilitating disease, was selected Wednesday for the full-length documentary competition at the annual festival. It will premiere in January.

“We could not be more honored to screen the film here in front of tens of thousands of people in Park City [Utah] this January,” Gleason said in a statement. “As you may know, this project began as a series of personal video journals for our son Rivers, as a way of sharing my life, who I am, and love for him, when I was first diagnosed with ALS in 2011. Although it has been a uniquely difficult journey at times, we believe it is an important message to share. Our film is not just focused on living with ALS, but on a more universal story, exposing the resilience of the human spirit, when faced with extreme adversity.”

The film was directed by J. Clay Tweel. The description from the Sundance website reads: “At the age of 34, Steve Gleason, former NFL defensive back and New Orleans hero, was diagnosed with ALS. Doctors gave him 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.”

“The hope is that this film will be a catalyst for positive change and choices for those who face major challenges in life,” Gleason said in the statement. “Thanks to my extraordinary family, friends, ‘film guys’, as well as talented director J. Clay Tweel, that this story will be told. If there is a takeaway, we believe those who watch might think differently about life, love and family.”