An uplifting look at how a rocker refused to let ALS take away his livelihood.
DIRECTED BY JESSE VILE (UK, Next)
Saturday, April 28, 4:30 p.m.
Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles Street West)
Sunday, April 29, 4:15 p.m.
Sunday, May 6, 4 pm.
TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West)
Jason Becker was nineteen and had just been handed a dream gig: lead guitar for David Lee Roth at a time when that actually meant something. It was then that he was diagnosed with ALS, a paralyzing nerve disease that usually means death within three to five years of onset. Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet is the story of how Becker has managed to beat the odds, remaining productive and upbeat despite his limitations.
Becker’s early years unfold in an abundance of home video footage, in which he is portrayed as a dedicated guitarist with a gift for shredding. He made fast friends with Marty Friedman (who would later join Megadeth) and they toured the world with their group Cacophony. This led to the opportunity with Roth (who is conspicuously absent from the film). After taking some tests, Becker treated his diagnosis as if it were a minor inconvenience, though it eventually, inevitably, robbed him of the ability to play the instrument that was his inseparable lifemate.
The documentary would be a real cinematic bummer were it not for Becker’s resilient spirit. It’s also helped along by his father, Gary. The two men have developed an effective, almost telepathic communication system that allows Jason to talk using only his eyes. If that weren’t enough, the younger Becker is even able to record music using digital tools. He manages to lead as normal a life as can be expected under the circumstances—one that includes not just one, but two beautiful women, and plenty of Family Guy.