Is it ever rational to choose death? On Independence Day at Stern Ranch in central California, 77-year-old solar-energy pioneer Bob Stern finds out he is seriously ill, and possibly dying. Meanwhile, an elderly in-law is slowly declining on artificial life support in a hospital. Bob decides to cheat that fate and take his own life. His family tries to stop him. But first, Bob sets up a video camera. Daughter Susan Stern (Barbie Nation, POV) tells the story of her father's quirky, inspiring life and the difficult end-of-life choices faced by an aging population. Part King Lear, part Western, The Self-Made Man is a true-life family drama about a controversial issue — Should we control how we die?
From death on the streets of Crown Heights to director Steven Spielberg's controversial visit to a predominantly black high school in East Oakland, the film resists simple analysis and treads provocatively on the fault lines of racial coalition and conflict.