The NFB is committed to respecting your privacy

We use cookies to ensure that our site works efficiently, as well as for advertising purposes.

If you do not wish to have your information used in this way, you can modify your browser settings before continuing your visit.

Learn more
Bearing Witness: Robert Coley-Donohue

Bearing Witness: Robert Coley-Donohue

| 1 h 30 min

This feature documentary is a portrait of Robert Coley-Donohue a man living with ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, a fatal degenerative neuro-muscular disease that strikes two in 100,000 people. The film follows Robert over the last 3 years of his life. His experience is arduous, but also filled with hope and healing. If, like Robert, we can face death with grace and the comfort of family and friends, then death will hold less fear.

  • director
    Dan Curtis
  • writer
    Jim Osborne
  • camera
    Dan Curtis
  • sound
    Dan Curtis
  • picture editing
    Dan Curtis
  • music composer
    Tobin Stokes
  • producer
    Pierre Lapointe
    Adam Symansky
  • executive producer
    Sally Bochner
  • sound editor
    Don Ayer
  • re-recording
    Jean Paul Vialard
  • online editor
    Denis Pilon
    Denis Gathelier
  • digital editing technician
    Phyllis Lewis
  • title design
    Gaspard Gaudreau
  • post-production coordinator
    Linda Payette
  • program administrator
    Marie Tonto-Donati
    Nickie Merulla
  • production clerk
    Sia Koukoulas
  • transcription
    Susan Panneton


Enjoy the NFB experience on your favourite device. 


Ages 15 to 18

Study Guide - Guide 1

Family Studies/Home Economics - Aging/Death and Dying
Social Studies - Social Policies and Programs

Warnings: Emotional content. Robert and his children cry several times as the ALS progresses, and Robert also cries during a visit to his wife’s grave.

Summary with teaching points

This documentary follows Robert as he deteriorates after a diagnosis of ALS. After viewing the film, students can discuss the impact ALS has on mental health and on the family and friends. As Robert’s disease progresses, he loses independence. Students could discuss the role of society in caring for those who are dying. In the end Robert decides to have the G-tube removed. Discuss the rights dying people have as their body fails them. Students could research ALS or other progressive diseases. Have there been changes in the treatment of ALS since the film was made? 

Bearing Witness: Robert Coley-Donohue
Purchase options
Also available
Already paid to see this film?

Embed this code on your site

Video player width

by Reset