On October 13, 1997 the village of St. Bernard in the Beauce region of Quebec acquired sudden fame, unintentionally and despite itself. It was Thanksgiving Day when a bus accident wiped out two percent of its tiny population. The local Golden Age club was on an excursion to Île-aux-Coudres when it plunged into the Éboulements ravine. Four years after the most serious road accident in Canadian history, friends and family of the victims recount their sad journey. During a six-month period, we accompany the survivors, and follow the rebirth of a community after the tragedy. In French with English subtitles.
This short documentary filmed at Saint Boniface General Hospital, in Manitoba, focuses on the work of 2 women: Gisèle Fontaine, who helps women in childbirth; and Louise Saurette, who attends the dying. Birth and death, moments of transition that involve a transformative journey, have much in common. The midwife and the chaplain offer themselves as guides on the painful and essential path of letting go.
This documentary short was produced as part of the Tremplin program, which enables young Francophone filmmakers to make a first production in a professional context.
This documentary introduces us to Stephen Jenkinson, once the leader of a palliative care counselling team at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital. Through his daytime job, he has been at the deathbed of well over 1,000 people. What he sees over and over, he says, is "a wretched anxiety and an existential terror" even when there is no pain. Indicting the practice of palliative care itself, he has made it his life's mission to change the way we die - to turn the act of dying from denial and resistance into an essential part of life.
This short animation illustrates the reactions of one individual whose doctor has just told him he will soon die. In a terse and sometimes humorous dialogue with his doctor, Nesbitt Spoon runs the gamut of emotions commonly experienced by people trying to deal with this devastating yet universal situation.
This feature documentary is a portrait of Luke Melchior (1973-2021) who, at 26, had already lived longer than most people with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a progressive wasting of the muscles. Knowing his life would be relatively short had made Luke feel an urgency about making a lasting contribution. Living independently, with the help of 3 homecare workers, he ran a web-based business selling outdoor gear, and chaired the board of the Disability Resource Centre in Victoria, BC, where he was a passionate advocate for the rights of the disabled.
Bearing Witness consists of 3 films, each approximately one hour long, on people with life-threatening illnesses. The series also profiles Jocelyn Morton, who died of liver cancer at 44, and Robert Coley-Donohue, who died of ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease) at age 74.
The subject is the actual crash of a small plane, which one man survived. Pat Crawley describes his view of the world now, after being on the edge of death. It is, he says, like being continually stoned--neutral but more fully aware, accepting life without bias, a condition he feels we are all coming to.
In a moving conversation with Dr. Balfour M. Mount, friend, colleague and treating physician, cancer victim Jean Cameron, a one-time volunteer social worker in the Palliative Care Unit of Montréal's Royal Victoria hospital, discusses how she has come to terms with her own illness and the perspective it has given her on the meaning of life. What she has to say is relevant to all. The depth of her insight and the grace of her being leave viewers moved and open to thinking more carefully about the meaning of their own lives.
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.
In this short film, a 17-year-old girl refuses medical treatment that will prolong her life due to religious convictions. Her decision remains firm despite the pleas of her physician, who begins to question who has the right to determine a person's life or death.This short film is one of a series of short, open-ended dramas designed to stimulate discussion of values and ethics in relation to modern technology.
In this feature-length documentary, acclaimed filmmaker Dorothy Todd Hénaut chronicles a critical two-year period in the lives of her parents, Mildred and Bob Todd. The Todds, retired octogenarians, live a simple but full life by the river in rural Ontario until a sudden change in their health forces a change in their lives. Their old routine of tending the garden and visiting with friends is replaced by hospital stays and home care. And even though the couple’s tenderness and mutual care soften the reality of diminishing strength, Hénaut’s film reveals a gritty, sensitive look at the human aging process.
This short documentary shines a light on the work of undertakers in a moving portrait that celebrates human touch at the seam of the mortal divide. When Peter dies in Yellowknife with no family members to claim his remains, he ends up in Janice's careful hands, where he is cleaned, shaved and dressed for his final resting place.