Based on the poignantly optimistic autobiographical writings of California–based journalist and poet Mark O’Brien, THE SESSIONS tells the story of a man who lived most of his life in an iron lung who is determined - at age 38 - to lose his virginity. With the help of his therapist and the guidance of his priest, he sets out to make his dream a reality.
Ben Lewin's career as a writer and director is spread across three continents and includes award-winning documentaries, feature films, TV movies, mini-series and episodic programs. Born in Poland in 1946, he migrated to Australia with his family in 1949. As a young man, Lewin showed great passion for photography and creative writing, and also studied and practiced law. He left his work as a criminal barrister when he was offered a scholarship to the National Film School in England. After graduating, he joined BBC Television as a director on the Nationwide program, followed by other documentary and current affairs programs for Thames, Granada and Channel Four Television. His breakthrough project as a writer/director was The Case of Cruelty to Prawns, a comedy-drama that won the Best Television Film Award at the prestigious Melbourne Film Festival. Some of Ben's notable credits include the murder mystery feature Georgia, starring Judy Davis, which won eight Australian Film Institute nominations; the much-honored and multi-award winning The Dunera Boys starring Bob Hoskins - the true story of 2,000 English Jews who were mistakenly suspected as Nazi spies and transported to Australia in 1940; the award-winning Matter of Convenience, a tele-movie about marriages of convenience with Jean-Pierre Cassel; and Plead Guilty, Get a Bond, about a tribal aboriginal woman and her conflict with the Australian legal system.Ben Lewin is best known in the US as the writer and director of comedy features; Paperback Romance, a love story about slightly damaged people starring Anthony LaPaglia and Gia Carrides, and the messianic farce The Favor, the Watch and the Very Big Fish, starring Bob Hoskins, Jeff Goldblum and Natasha Richardson. More recently, Ben Lewin brought his distinctive mix of the preposterous and the perceptive to Hollywood Gold, a personal documentary of his misadventures in the Beverly Hills jewelry trade at Oscar time. His episodic television work includes the season's highest-rated episode of Ally McBeal ("Let's Dance") and Touched By An Angel, as well as a number of episodes of the most popular drama series in Australia, Sea Change. In 2011, Ben Lewin began production of the feature film The Surrogate, starring John Hawkes and Helen Hunt. Ben wrote and directed this moving true-life story, based on the sexual awakening of Mark O'Brien, a Berkeley-based poet and journalist who spent most of his life in an iron lung. Ben has been living and working in California since 1994 and is married to producer Judi Levine.