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39 Pounds of Love

Directed by: Dani Menkin
70 Minutes, 2005, Comedy; Documentary; Romance

The inspirational and humorous non-fiction account of a remarkable man and his remarkable life. Ami Ankilewitz was diagnosed with an extremely rare and often fatal form of spinal muscular atrophy (type 2) that severely limits physical growth and movement. Yet at thirty-four years of age, he continues to outlive a doctor’s prediction of life expectancy by twenty-eight years…and counting. Ami, who weighs only thirty-nine pounds, 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. In doing so, he continues to redefine notions of a “limited” life. The film follows Ami’s journey in search of the doctor who predicted his early demise. Along the way, Ami attempts to come to terms with another major incident from his past and to complete a lifelong dream: to ride a Harley-Davidson across America.


Director: Dani Menkin

Producer: Asfur

Producer: Hilla Medalia and Daniel J. Chalfen

Distributor: Dragoman Films

Cast: Ami Ankilewitz


An uplifting documentary.

- John McMurtrie, San Francisco Chronicle

39 Pounds of Love is a heavyweight emotional champion. Although deserving such adjectives as lovely, loving and inspiring, the documentary steers clear of cloying excess.

- Philip Wuntch, Dallas Morning News


I went to see this film, thinking it was going to be a sappy tearjerker. Much to my surprise, the film was JOYFUL and even funny at times. It’s hard not to be inspired by Ami.

That being said, the film is never preachy. At times I forgot Ami was disabled, as he deals with the same experiences that all of us face. Unrequited love, a broken heart, burying ourselves in our work, the drive to get closure of some type, the need to prove something to our naysayers. I had such empathy for Ami that I found myself cheering for him…but later realized it was also because I was hopeful for myself.

This film is an extraordinary effort and I look forward to Dani Menkin’s next project.