TAMIU Hosts “39 Pounds of Love” Texas Premiere

TAMIU Hosts “39 Pounds of Love”
Texas Premiere Thursday, Oct. 6

At birth he was given 6 years to live.
At 34, he takes the journey of a lifetime.

Make plans to be a part of a remarkable event for the entire community at Texas A&M International University’s Student Center Theatre Thursday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. as “39 Pounds of Love” makes its Texas film premiere. Tickets are available for $10 at the door. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Laredo Animal Shelter.

“39 Pounds of Love” is the inspirational and humorous non-fiction account of Ami Ankilewitz, a remarkable man on a remarkable journey. Born in Laredo, Ankilewitz was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Type II, a rare and often fatal form of muscular atrophy that severely limits his physical growth and movement. Yet at 34 years of age and 39 pounds, he continues to outlive a doctor’s prediction of life expectancy by 28 years and counting.

“Yehh … the doctor thought I wouldn’t make it to the age of six. He just didn’t take into account that I have the soul of a Harley Davidson,” says Ankilewitz.

The film is the winner of the Israeli Academy Award for Best Documentary Film of 2005, a winner at the Palm Beach Film Festival, winner of the Tahoe/Reno Film Festival and has been shown at the New Zealand Film Festival,  Boston Jewish Festival, Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival and the Full Frame Film Festival.

Director Dani Nemkin frst met Ankilewitz in a bar in Tel Aviv, was instantly drawn to him and began a relationship that led him to making the film. The film follows Ankilewitz’s journey in search of the doctor who predicted his early demise. Along the journey, Ankilewitz attemps to come to terms with another major incident from his past and to complete his lifelong dream to ride a Harley Davidson. Along the way, Ankilewitz’s dream becomes the crew’s dream too: document his journey from Los Angeles, through the American Southwest to Florida, find the doctor who diagnosed Ankilewitz when he was born, reconcile relationships, tell his story, and to give hope to others through its telling.

Ankilewitz currently works in Israel as a 3D animator and creates his art despite the fact that his bodily motion is limited to a single finger on his left hand. He speaks three languages, sports a Harley Davidson tattoo and enjoys sociable drinking with friends at the local pub. “Animation makes me feel … free … I am now working on a new film. It’s a love story … yehh … love story,” says Ankilewitz.

Ankilewitz and his mother, Helena, are scheduled to be at the movie’s premiere.

Helena met Ami’s father, Moshe in Mexico City when he went to Mexico on a business trip. They married and moved to Laredo where Ami’s siblings Jamie and Oscar preceded Ami. When he was six years old, the family immigrated to Israel, Helena and Moshe divorced and Helena dedicated her life in Israel to Ami.

For more information, please contact the TAMIU Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at 956.326.2180, e-mail prmis@tamiu.edu or visit tamiu.edu.

For additional information, visit the movie Web site at: 39poundsoflove.com

University office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu