Chicago actor and playwright Ben Byer had long dreamed of a career in movies, but he became a filmmaker almost incidentally: after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis—ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease—in 2002, the 31-year-old turned a camera on himself and his family as they embarked on a global search for palliative treatments. Growing weaker, Byer enlisted documentarian pal Roko Belic (Genghis Blues) to record his trip to Greece, where he visits an uncommonly resilient ALS patient, and then China, where he undergoes a risky surgical procedure to little effect. By the end, when Byer journeys to the top of Masada, the focus has shifted from fighting the disease to finding life’s meaning, and the spiritual dimension lifts this stark, unsentimental video essay (2007) into the realm of art. 118 min.