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Jim Allison: Breakthrough

2019 | 90 min

Jim Allison: Breakthrough is the astounding, true story of one warm-hearted, stubborn man’s visionary quest to find a cure for cancer.


Today, Jim Allison is a name to be reckoned with throughout the scientific world — a 2018 Nobel Prize winner for discovering the immune system’s role in defeating cancer — but for decades he waged a lonely struggle against the skepticism of the medical establishment and the resistance of Big Pharma.

Jim Allison: Breakthrough takes us into the inspiring and dramatic world of cutting-edge medicine, and into the heart of a true American pioneer, in a film that is both emotionally compelling and deeply entertaining.


“Top Ten Films of 2019”

~ Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

“Absorbing...inspiring and heartening...go once, go twice you won’t regret it, you won’t forget it”

~ Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

“One of those great, emotional journeys only documentaries are capable of taking us on.”


“Haney paints a vivid portrait of Allison from boyhood to the present day, creating an empathetic hero for this true-life tale.”

~ Leonard Maltin,

“Breakthrough remains loyal to its academic source material in a way that's clear enough for any viewer to follow… [and] Haney seems to have made all the right filmmaking choices, from balancing the science and sentimental to picking his subject at the perfect time…”

~ Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica


“In a time when cynicism and skeptics run rampant, Breakthrough looks to offer a moment of comfort and hope via the story of Jim Allison.”

~ Dino-Ray Ramos, Deadline Hollywood


“In a field you’d never think of as having rock stars, Allison is a rock star of immunology. The filmmaker, Bill Haney, is a rock star among documentarians for bringing us this wonderful, hopeful film about a man and a Breakthrough achievement.”

~ Bradley Gibson, Film Threat


“Breakthrough demonstrates that the treatment is not a miracle, but the result of some wild but meticulous thinking by a true medical hero.”

~ Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter


“Breakthrough is an engaging and entertaining film because Allison is a fascinating subject. He’s blunt and honest and colorful.”

~ Sophie Novack, Texas Observer


Directed by

Written by

Produced by

Bill Haney

Bill Haney

Bill Haney & Jennifer Pearce

Edited by

Music by

Peter Rhodes

Mark Orton & Mickey Raphael

Narrated by



Woody Harrelson

Tim Disney

R.J. Cutler

Maura McCarthy

Michael Eisenson

Sean E. Reilly

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