Durham, North Carolina, April 01, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Uncommon Productions (“Uncommon”) today announced the screening of its latest documentary, Jim Allison: Breakthrough (“Breakthrough”) at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival (“Full Frame”) in Durham, North Carolina.  Directed by filmmaker Bill Haney, narrated by Woody Harrelson and featuring music by Willie Nelson, harmonica player Mickey Raphael and a score by Mark Orton and Mickey Raphael, the film World Premiered last month at the South by Southwest Film Festival (“South by Southwest”) and Premieres at Full Frame on April 4th at the Carolina Theatre in Durham.

Breakthrough is the story of Nobel Prize winning scientist, Dr. James Allison, and his journey to discover how the immune system can cure cancer. Filmed before his Nobel nomination, Breakthrough paints a richly entertaining portrait of an unconventional, iconoclastic scientist who for decades waged an often-lonely fight to bring his revolutionary cancer therapy to patients.

“I was interested in doing a documentary that united Americans. We live in a polarized time,” said director Bill Haney. “One of the blessings of Jim’s work is there are no Americans – rich, poor, North, South, red, blue – who are pro-cancer.  By watching the amazing work of Jim and his team of inspiring collaborators, we can see how to work together for the common good. The scientific revolution that Jim has sparked in immuno-oncology is changing the lives of millions of patients and their families, worldwide.”

Jim Allison first learned about T cells while an undergraduate at the University of Texas. Trained as a basic scientist, Dr. Allison contributed to the discovery of the T cell antigen receptor while working at MD Anderson’s Research Division in Smithville, TX (“MD Anderson”) and later became the director of UC Berkeley’s Cancer Research Laboratory where he made his breakthrough discovery in 1996, developing an antibody to allow T cells to attack cancer.

“T cells were just so cool and mysterious,” said Dr. Allison. “I just wanted to understand their role in the immune system. I didn’t launch this work to try to cure cancer, but once I saw the implications for patients worldwide, I was fiercely determined to build drugs for cancer patients!”

After his discovery in 1996, Dr. Allison partnered with Medarex and Bristol-Myers Squibb (“Bristol-Myers Squibb”) who developed his antibody into a drug, Ipilimumab (trade name Yervoy), which was approved by the FDA in 2011. In addition to winning the Nobel Prize, Dr. Allison has received a number of prestigious awards in science, including the Breakthrough Prize, Tang Prize, Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, Sjöberg Prize, and King Faisal Prize.

Breakthrough’s director, Bill Haney, has written, directed, or produced 17 films including The Price of Sugar, which won the audience award at South by Southwest in 2007, and The Last Mountain, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival (“Sundance”) in 2011. He is a tech entrepreneur and inventor, having started his first company as a freshman in college. Bill is the co-founder and CEO of Dragonfly Therapeutics, a biotech company developing NK-cell based therapies to cure cancer, and the co-founder and CEO of Skyhawk Therapeutics, a biotech developing small molecules to correct RNA splicing disease ranging from neurological conditions to major cancers.  Both are based in the Boston area (www.dragonflytx.com or www.skyhawktx.com).

For more information on Jim Allison: Breakthrough, visit www.breakthroughdoc.com or follow Jim Allison: Breakthrough on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CancerCureDoc/, Twitter https://twitter.com/CancerCureDoc or Instagram https://www.instagram.com/cancercuredoc/

About Uncommon Productions

Founded in 2000 by Tim Disney and Bill Haney, Uncommon Productions produces documentary and feature films that inspire, enlighten, and engage.

With offices on both the East and West Coast and producing partners worldwide, we are uniquely positioned to deliver quality media for theater, television and home video.


Matt Shelley-Reade
Uncommon Productions