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This year, the bespoke Tribeca Film Festival in New York City will unveil the world premiere of TRANSFATTY LIVES – A FILM BY PATRICK O’BRIEN, an extraordinary documentary feature film about ALS and life. At Acapela Group, we hope this film will reach as many people as possible to help increase awareness and mobilization against ALS disease.
Acapela Group is extremely proud and honored to participate with the film and to help Patrick and individuals living with ALS to keep communicating in their daily lives.
“I was officially diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), a terminal disease that results in the progressive degeneration of the nerves and muscles that are responsible for voluntary movement, including breathing,” says filmmaker and subject Patrick O’Brien. “It is a fatal and incurable disease. I was 30 years old. I have chosen to do something with my illness. As you will see, I turned the cameras on myself and began to document my journey with ALS on 35mm motion picture film. This challenge has given me a focal point for my energies, and will hopefully inspire others to keep moving through their own adversities.”
Ten years in the making, TRANSFATTY LIVES has quietly been amassing 35mm footage in filmmaker Patrick O’Brien’s epic battle with ALS. This unconventional motion picture explores what it means to live, what it means to die and what is important in life. Containing no talking heads or lengthy interviews, instead the film relies on a distinct visual style all its own. It’s an unapologetic look at survival that promises to raise some eyebrows and turn heads. ALS freezes the human body but leaves the mind sharp. Patrick’s unique vantage point, combined with his dark humor and outside-the-box blog entries, will keep audiences on the edge of their seats and continually guessing.
“At Acapela, we are very proud of our contribution with helping Patrick communicate,” says Lars-Erik Larsson, CEO of Acapela Group. “He picked Will, a synthetic voice from Acapela, to voice his thoughts and to share his journey with us. Speech synthesis has allowed individuals to continue communicating for decades. Over the last few months, a major innovation has enabled people diagnosed with ALS to record their voice in order to capture this essential part of everyone’s identity before losing it. “
This solution is entitled ‘my-own-voice’. It creates a synthetic voice, very much like the user’s own, that can be employed with an assistive device to read any sentence, keeping the essence of the original voice in terms of timbre, accent and intonation. For individuals who have already lost their voice, they can ask a family member, a close relative or a friend, to donate their voice, offering the possibility to the end user to speak with a voice that sounds familiar and unique.
Eric and Garmt are the pioneers of ‘my-own-voice’. They were both diagnosed with ALS and decided to create their own synthetic voice. They have actively contributed to turn the concept into a real solution for many people. You can learn more about their story here. Other voices have been created since. Unfortunately, Patrick was not able to record his own voice, but everyone diagnosed with ALS is encouraged to contact Acapela Group.
The Ice Bucket Challenge has given a fantastic and global visibility to the ALS disease. Due to the mobilization around it, many more people everywhere are aware of this disease. And Patrick O’Brien’s film TRANSFATTY LIVES is another step to helping us understand more about ALS. We thank Patrick for his tremendous documentary, his work and for sharing his love of life with emotion and humor and this question: “Will there be bacon and unicorns once I get there?”
Patrick O’Brien, aka DJ TransFatty, is an artist and filmmaker. Born in 1974 in Edison, New Jersey, he attended the School of Visual Arts and has lived in New York for much of his life. When he was diagnosed with ALS in May 2005 he decided to embark on his most ambitious project yet, a feature-length documentary about his journey. He is currently based in Massachusetts at the Leonard Florence Center for Living.
We invent speech solutions to vocalize any written content with authentic and original voices that express meaning and intent. Over 100 synthetic voices in 30 languages are ready to give a voice to any content producing a natural and pleasant audio result, by turning written input into speech.
Acapela Group is a bespoke player in speech solutions. For decades we have been creating well known synthetic voices used by visually impaired users. Accessibility issues are very important to Acapela and we work hard to make communication much easier for people with sight, speech and cognitive disabilities.