“More to Live For” (Director Noah Hutton) is the story of three lives, all shaken by cancer and dependent upon the one vital bone marrow match that could save them. These individuals are similar only in their fate and prolific accomplishments: Michael Brecker, 15-time Grammy winner, one of the greatest tenor saxophonists of all time; James Chippendale, entertainment executive and founder of The Love Hope Strength foundation, the largest music centric cancer charity in the world and Seun Adebiyi, a young Nigerian training to become the first ever Nigerian winter Olympic athlete in any sport.
Their unrelated paths become connected in a desperate fight for survival and a singular mission: to bring awareness about bone marrow donation to the millions of people who could save a life today. A film of tragedy and loss, strength and hope, “More to Live For” presents the stories of three individuals facing life and death, and their commitment to making a difference. These deeply personal accounts of confronting illness will inspire hope and action, leaving the viewer empowered to become part of the cure.
Noah Hutton: director
Born in 1987, in Los Angeles to actors Timothy Hutton and Debra Winger, Noah spent his childhood on and around film sets and developed a passion for filmmaking of his own at an early age. After attending the Fieldston School in the Bronx, NY, Hutton entered Wesleyan University as a freshman in 2005. In the summer of 2007, he traveled to Uganda with the Jacob Burns Film Center’s World Crew program and co-directed a documentary film entitled “Shooting for Peace” that tracked three pressing issues in that country: child soldiers, water treatment, and HIV/AIDS orphans. Noah directed the narrative 16 mm short “Knives” produced by the Wesleyan Film Cooperative. At 21, Noah had his directorial debut with Crude Independence, a documentary film about the oil boom in North Dakota. This extraordinary first film was an official selection at the 2009 SXSW Film Festival, and won the Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 2009 Oxford Film Festival. Hutton graduated Wesleyan in 2009, where he studied art history and neuroscience, and resides in New York City. www.couple3.com
Susan Brecker: producer
Susan Brecker, widow of Michael Brecker, is a trained psychotherapist. Working in psychiatric hospitals and a private practice for many years, she gave up her work in order to raise their 2 children. During that time, Susan produced the critically acclaimed play “Housewives on Prozac,” which had a sold out, 6-week run at the Schoolhouse in Croton, New York. This lead to producing and directing 7 plays at the Hastings-on-Hudson Middle and High Schools.
When their children were older, she began to work again as a therapist. Unfortunately, she had to suspend her work, as her husband, jazz legend Michael Brecker, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2005. As he was unable to find a match in the donor registry, Susan began a worldwide plea for new donors, and sent a letter asking for people to join the registry. Within 24 hours, this email went around the world, and was translated into 6 languages. With the help of Mike’s longtime manager Darryl Pitt, they held drives around the world, most notably at the Red Sea, Monterey and Newport Jazz Festivals. Together, they raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, and were able to test thousands of new donors. In Israel alone, 24 lives have been saved from the Michael Brecker Donor Pool. It was Michael’s brave decision to go public with his illness that facilitated this outpouring of donors, and Susan is honoring her husband’s memory in her dedication to raising awareness about the need for bone marrow donors. She lives outside of NYC with their son and daughter.
James Chippendale: film subject, producer
A Dallas native, James Chippendale is the owner of CSI Insurance, one of the largest entertainment and sports insurance brokers in the country. CSI places coverage on large-scale events, musical performances, and private events. They also provide risk management for top-performing athletes. Their varied and notable client list include Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Bob Dylan, Gwen Stefani, Ludacris, and Lance Armstrong. CSI recently insured President Obama’s inauguration and victory party. James is a noted speaker in the entertainment industry, and has penned columns for music and trade journals. He also hosts an Emmy-nominated NBC television show called “Last Call with James Chippendale,” interviewing celebrities from all areas of entertainment and sports.
At just 32 years old, James was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia, and his only hope for survival was a bone marrow transplant. After weeks of unsuccessful searching in the International Registry, a donor was found, and James had his life-saving transplant. Klaus Kaiser, a native of Eastern Germany, registered at a drive in his town for an ailing resident. His simple act of kindness was rewarded with saving James’ life, and they have become close friends.
Still healthy 10 years later, James has dedicated his life to raising awareness about cancer. In 2006, he and fellow cancer survivor musician Mike Peters (The Alarm) formed the Love Hope Strength Foundation, a music-centric cancer foundation. In just three years LHS has been part of over 100 events on six continents, including events on Mt Everest, Kilimanjaro, Macchu Picchu and Pikes Peak. LHS has raised millions of dollars to support cancer centers around the globe, signed up thousands of new bone marrow donors and with chapters in the US ,South America, United Kingdom and Australia, they are now the fastest growing charity in the world. www.lovehopestrength.org
Seun Adebiyi: film subject
Born in Nigeria in 1984, Seun Adebiyi moved to Alabama with his mother when he was just six years old. Living an impoverished life while his mother taught school, Seun was an A student and a champion high school swimmer. Seun attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he distinguished himself as an outstanding student. He developed an answer to a math theorem that is still being studied today. But Seun’s love was law, and he graduated Yale Law School in 2009. Ever the athlete, Seun had a dream of becoming the first Nigerian ever to compete in the winter Olympic games. His choice of sport was the skeleton, a one person, head-first sled ride down a track of ice.
Having completed his studies at Yale Law, he was about to embark on his Olympic training when he was diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma and stem cell leukemia. He immediately began intensive chemotherapy, and was told he needed a bone marrow transplant to save his life. With no matches in the registry, Seun set a new goal for himself: to sign up 10,000 new donors. As his most likely match would be from his home in Nigeria, Seun traveled to Africa, and ran the first-ever bone marrow drive there. www.nigeria2014.com
Michael Brecker: film subject
Widely regarded as the most influential tenor saxophonist since John Coltrane, Michael Brecker was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Brecker has been awarded 15 Grammy Awards as both performer and composer and was inducted into Down Beat’s Jazz Hall of Fame in 2007. During his career, he was in great demand as a soloist and sideman. He performed with musicians that spanned from jazz to rock. Notable pop artist collaborations include John Lennon, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith, Frank Zappa, and Frank Sinatra. Brecker also recorded and performed with leading jazz artists; Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Quincy Jones, Pat Metheny and McCoy Tyner. With his brother Randy, they headlined the acclaimed band Dreams and The Brecker Brothers. Michael became a band leader himself in 1987, touring worldwide with various groups, including his big band, the Michael Brecker Quindectet. Altogether, he appeared on over 1000 albums, either as a band leader, group member or guest soloist.
In the summer of 2004, Brecker was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), an early form of leukemia. In need of a bone marrow transplant to save his life, Brecker searched in the International Bone Marrow Registry for a match. This began a series of bone marrow drives throughout the world, including drives at the Red Sea, Monterey, and Newport Jazz Festivals. By going public with his illness, Brecker raised tens of thousands of dollars for testing, and signed up many thousands of donors, but was unable to find a match for himself. At the present time, over 50 lives have been saved from the Michael Brecker Donor Pool.
After an unsuccessful, experimental half-matched transplant in 2005, Brecker regained enough strength to record his final album, Pilgrimage, in August, 2006. Sadly, he did not live long enough to personally receive the 2 Grammys that Pilgrimage garnered in 2007. He passed away in January, 2007, after 2 1/2 years of living with leukemia. He was 57 years old. www.michaelbrecker.com