Bob-stern-at-car021Is it ever rational to choose death? On Independence Day at Stern Ranch, 77-year-old solar energy pioneer Bob Stern finds out he’s seriously ill – possibly dying. Meanwhile, an elderly in-law is dying on artificial life support. Bob decides to cheat that fate and take his own life. His family tries to stop him. Bob sets up a video camera. Daughter Susan Stern explores “rational suicide,” the “right-to-die” and the difficult end-of-life choices faced by an aging population.


  • Two national Emmy nominations, for writing and for documentary
  • Duke University Center for Documentary Studies Filmmaker Award
  • CINE Gold Eagle for film excellence
  • Video Librarian, “Best Documentaries.”


International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam; Full Frame Documentary Film Festival; Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal; SXSW Film Festival; Seoul Independent Documentary Festival; AFI/Discovery Channel SILVERDOCS Film Festival. Debuted on PBS and broadcast in Europe and the Middle East.

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The Self-Made Man is a tour de force. No other film documentary has ever captured the living trail of a man's decision to commit suicide in the context of his past, present, and future. Whatever your background and experience, world view, and beliefs, this film will provoke powerful reactions and compelling questions about the right to die.

Donna Cohen, Professor, Department of Aging and Mental Health, Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute University of South Florida

Stimulating, moving and at times unnerving...It helps us think through our assumptions about suicide, illness and end-of-life issues. It's very well done. It's a good sign when I laugh, get teary and am left searching for better answers.

Dr. Timothy E. Quill M.D., Director, Center for Palliative Care and Clinical Ethics University of Rochester School of Medicine