An artist, a doctor, a star and a victim
BRECKENRIDGE – Dr. Steve Lesser was on a flight returning home from Europe to New Orleans a week ago when someone handed him a copy of the Houston Chronicle.”It was the first I had heard about it,” he said.”It” being the hurricane and the flooding destruction that had befallen his town. The city was closed when he arrived, and he hasn’t been able to return home since he received the news.Lesser is the focus of the documentary “The Steve Plan,” showing at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Breckenridge Theatre as part of the Breckenridge Festival of Film. He will be part of a panel discussion following the film. Lesser was an emergency room physician at Charity Hospital of New Orleans, the oldest continuously running hospital in the country, before it was flooded and evacuated. He also taught for a Louisiana State University residency program. The film is about Lesser, a doctor and an artist, helping trauma patients – many suffering from gunshot wounds – in this New Orleans hospital, which offers free care to the indigent population.
He met the documentary crew when they were using his sculpture studio to film a commercial. The more they found out about this complex man, the more intrigued they became.”They said they were going to come back to do a documentary about me,” Lesser said. “I think they were really taken aback by the violence that goes on in American cities sometimes.”The film was shot during the mid-’90s, when the hospital was seeing an average of five gunshot victims a day.Lesser saw the documentary for the first time Thursday.”It was actually quite a shocker to see the film,” he said. “The film gave me great pause to think about the things in my life.”Outside of the hospital setting, Lesser is a passionate artist. “Art is the ultimate luxury,” he said. “My medical career is what I did to support my art. Just about everyone has to do something to support the art they do.”
Terese Keil, the festival panel moderator, said she planned to display several of Lesser’s sculptures and paintings at the Breckenridge Theatre during the film and panel discussion; however, Lesser sent an assistant to his studio Monday, and he was unable to enter the building. The water level was too high.”One minute you have a job, a house, a passion, and then it’s all gone,” Keil said. “He’s a gentleman who realizes some doors are closing, and others are opening.”The hospital’s doctors are now without housing or paychecks, so they’re all looking hard for work. Lesser has looked for a job in Louisiana, but has also applied in Texas, where he’s now staying.”I may relocate. The mud hasn’t really settled yet, so I’m not sure. This is a time to reevaluate everything,” he said. “The things I lost were just things, though, and luckily not people.”I’m just taking it one step at a time.”Sunday’s panel discussion will follow the screening of “The Steve Plan” (43 minutes) and “Paul Soldner: Playing with Fire” (59 minutes). Along with Lesser and Keil, the panel will include Dr. Craig Perrinjaquet (Doc PJ) from High Country Health Care, local sculptor Chaz della Porta and Stephanie Soldner, film archivist for “Paul Soldner.”
Breck Film Fest– What: “The Steve Plan,” “Paul Soldner: Playing with Fire” and a panel discussion following the two films– When: 3 p.m. Sunday– Where: Breckenridge TheatreJennifer Harper can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 248, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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