Funded! This project was successfully funded on June 1, 2011.


What is the impact of survivorship on the human condition?


In the history of aviation, there have been 14 large-scale, commercial plane crashes with a sole survivor.  The majority of these survivors were children at the time of their accident. 

SOLE SURVIVOR is a feature-length documentary that follows the journey of George Lamson who, at 17 years old, survived the 1985 crash of Galaxy Airlines Flight 203 which killed 73 people in Reno, Nevada. Twenty-five years after the crash, George still struggles with the purpose of his own life and questions whether or not he was spared for a reason. His attempts to reconcile his past have been complicated by the media’s portrayal of him as a miracle and a hero—roles that bear little resemblance to the identity that he would claim for himself. Through SOLE SURVIVOR, George has begun to reach out to the 13 other sole survivors, several of whom were also children at the time of their accident. His attempt to reach the other survivors will span 11 countries, three generations and a distinct array of cultural backgrounds.

In doing so, George builds a community of healing and support for himself and the others, and lays the groundwork for a broader exploration of the impact of survivorship on the human condition.  George confronts some of humanity's most enduring questions about chance, destiny and purpose while expert academics including statisticians, philosophers, theologians, physicists, engineers,media scholars and psychologists contemplate the impact of media, science, spirituality and statistics in relation to healing.


Survivors of airplane crashes embody the experience of all types of survivor because their experience is acute, public and dramatic. However, there are many types of survivors that are not in the news.  Survivors of natural disaster, war, genocide, pandemic disease and other types of tragedy often have difficulty assimilating back into their families and communities.  There is a misconception that if somebody survives a tragedy, they should feel lucky.  Pressure is placed on survivors to  move on with their lives or to feel grateful for being spared a dire fate without acknowledging the extreme psychological, social, emotional, spiritual and physical ramifications of survival. Families, communities and institutions around the world have neglected the struggles of survivors due to a lack of understanding.  We hope this film will educate about survivorship so that survivors no longer have to live on the margins of society or on the brink of their own personhood without the resources that they need to heal.


Our goals with this film are threefold. First, we will put a face on survivor’s guilt. This gives the audience a comprehensive understanding of what can be done, individually and socially, to support survivors of all kinds of trauma. Second, we will create the first worldwide community for victims and survivors of aviation disaster by introducing the survivors to each other as well as by building a customized online social network. Third,we will contrast the different media responses to the survivors, who represent eleven countries and three generations. We hope to examine the impact of extensive media and public attention has had on the survivors’ lives, including their socialization process and sense of identity, in a way that sheds light on the broader experience of a “survivor.”


Production started in August 2010 and since then, we have been in contact with seven of the fourteen sole survivors. We have shot and edited together 1/3 of the film and hope to finish production by the end of this year. 


This is an international film, requiring us to travel to eleven different countries including: United States, Netherlands, France, Sudan, Algeria, UAE, Vietnam, Columbia, Serbia, Germany and Peru.  In all of these places, we need production coordinators, translators and lodging. If you know anybody who can help us in any of these countries, please email 


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    What's less than a dollar but worth more than money? MILES!!! This documentary requires us to travel to eleven different countries. The most profound impact that you can have on our film is to donate travel vouchers or airline miles. If you donate over 25,000 miles, you will received recognition in the film credits as a Travel Coordinator.

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    Receive Associate Producer Credit plus receive a limited-edition 8”x10” fine art photograph by Sole Survivor photographer Susan Aurinko, plus all benefits listed above.

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    Receive a Translation Producer credit: Parlez-vous français? Fund the translation of one survivor’s story. Recognition in film’s credits and website. Plus, all benefits listed above.

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Funding period

- (19 days)