Lewin: Situation provides the comedy in ‘Sessions’

Comedy Impact Report 2012: Film - Ben Lewin

Helmer Ben Lewin describes Sundance 2012 as “surprising.” “The Sessions,” which he wrote and directed, made a splash at the Utah fest. In addition to garnering both the dramatic audience award and the special jury prize for ensemble cast, the film was acquired by Fox Searchlight for an estimated $6 million — the largest deal at this year’s festival.

“It’s often hard to predict what strikes a funny chord in audiences,” Lewin says. “So when the entire Eccles Theater erupted in laughter that was so loud that it covered some of the (film’s dialogue), I was very surprised and really elated.”

Starring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt and William H. Macy, the moving drama brings an unexpected yet welcome dose of comedy to the true story of Mark O’Brien, a paraplegic confined to an iron lung who arranges to lose his virginity.

“The (project’s) humor emanates from Mark’s world view,” says Lewin, himself a polio survivor. “He saw life as rather absurd and had very sharp humor. I decided to use that to set the tone for the movie. So it’s not added jokes or side gags that give the film its humor — that really emanates from his situation.”

More Film

  • Studio 54

    Sundance Film Review: 'Studio 54'

    Helmer Ben Lewin describes Sundance 2012 as “surprising.” “The Sessions,” which he wrote and directed, made a splash at the Utah fest. In addition to garnering both the dramatic audience award and the special jury prize for ensemble cast, the film was acquired by Fox Searchlight for an estimated $6 million — the largest deal […]

  • Oscars 2018 Nominations: Who Are the

    Oscar Nominations Are in, but Who Are the Frontrunners?

    Helmer Ben Lewin describes Sundance 2012 as “surprising.” “The Sessions,” which he wrote and directed, made a splash at the Utah fest. In addition to garnering both the dramatic audience award and the special jury prize for ensemble cast, the film was acquired by Fox Searchlight for an estimated $6 million — the largest deal […]

  • 'Get Out' Breaks Out With Four

    'Get Out' Scores Four Oscar Nominations, Including Three for Jordan Peele

    Helmer Ben Lewin describes Sundance 2012 as “surprising.” “The Sessions,” which he wrote and directed, made a splash at the Utah fest. In addition to garnering both the dramatic audience award and the special jury prize for ensemble cast, the film was acquired by Fox Searchlight for an estimated $6 million — the largest deal […]

  • All the Money in the World

    Christopher Plummer Becomes Oldest Actor to Be Nominated for an Oscar

    Helmer Ben Lewin describes Sundance 2012 as “surprising.” “The Sessions,” which he wrote and directed, made a splash at the Utah fest. In addition to garnering both the dramatic audience award and the special jury prize for ensemble cast, the film was acquired by Fox Searchlight for an estimated $6 million — the largest deal […]

  • Get Out

    Academy Skirts Another #OscarsSoWhite Disaster With a Diverse Lineup, But Who Will Win?

    Helmer Ben Lewin describes Sundance 2012 as “surprising.” “The Sessions,” which he wrote and directed, made a splash at the Utah fest. In addition to garnering both the dramatic audience award and the special jury prize for ensemble cast, the film was acquired by Fox Searchlight for an estimated $6 million — the largest deal […]

  • Oscar Nominations: Original Score and Song

    Oscar Nominations: Score and Song Surprises Include a Taylor Swift Snub

    Helmer Ben Lewin describes Sundance 2012 as “surprising.” “The Sessions,” which he wrote and directed, made a splash at the Utah fest. In addition to garnering both the dramatic audience award and the special jury prize for ensemble cast, the film was acquired by Fox Searchlight for an estimated $6 million — the largest deal […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content