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OBIT. is the first documentary to explore the world of these writers and their subjects, focusing on the legendary team at The New York Times, who approach their daily work with journalistic rigor and narrative flair. Going beyond the byline and into the minds of those chronicling life after death on the freshly inked front lines of history, the film invites some of the most essential questions we ask ourselves about life, memory, and the inevitable passage of time.
Being Mortal shines an unprecedented spotlight on how patients, families, and doctors all experience the end stages of life, for the ultimate goal is not a good death but a good life--all the way to the very end.
The hospice here has been under the leadership of Balfour Mount, M.D., internationally respected pioneer in the field of palliative care. The entire staff, from housekeepers to volunteers, to nurses, doctors and therapists are engaged in the complex task of meeting the emotional as well as the physical needs of the patients. We get to know the caregivers, and how they are affected by their work with the dying. The staff creates a sense of normalcy and even vibrancy which emanates from the ward as pleasures from the outside world are brought in. Musicians, pets, and celebrations enrich daily life. The warm atmosphere allows family and friends to interact naturally with their loved ones.Filmed over one month, Endnotes captures the unique philosophy of a world-renowned model for compassionate care.
Last Rights explores medical, ethical, and political issues. We meet Scott Nelson, a physician in the Mississippi Delta whose father, Elbert Nelson, was diagnosed with kidney cancer; Julie McMurchie from Oregon whose mother, Peggy Sutherland, was just beginning to enjoy her life after divorce when lung cancer overtook her; Lennie Gladstone of the Washington, DC area whose beloved husband, Doug Gladstone, was diagnosed with liver cancer; and Carol Poenisch of Michigan who tells about her mother, Merian Frederick, whose body was atrophying with Lou Gehrig’s disease and who had lost the power to speak. For guidance the patients turned to clergy, medical professionals and legal authorities. Several nationally-known spokespeople with diverse points of view appear in the film: Derek Humphry (Final Exit); J. Wesley Smith ( Forced Exit ); and Barbara Coombs Lee of Compassion & Choices. In addition we become acquainted with Reverend Kenneth Phifer who stood by Merian and her family when she decided to take control of her death. The film also includes newsreels of Jack Kevorkian who ultimately helped Merian Frederick die; We are also given a brief history of the hospice movement and its founder Sister Cicely Saunders’ commitment to palliative care.
Dr. Jack Kevorkian is shown speaking about his views on euthanasia. The film then focuses on the case of Bernard Harper and his terminally ill wife, Ginger. She begged to have her life ended so she would not have to suffer. For abetting her suicide, Harper was charged with murder. After an emotional trial the court found him innocent. On the other hand, we see the case of Luane, who was left helpless and in a vegetative state after a car accident in 1954. Her family never considered "letting her die." Sixteen years later she recovered enough to permit the removal of her feeding tubes and to sit in a wheel chair. Despite severe physical limitations, she lives each day fully. John, an AIDS victim, states his case for the right to have a "good death."
The accident left Dax sightless, helpless, disfigured, and in constant pain. He insisted that he did not want to live, for it was clear that he would always be severely handicapped. During his long hospitalization he was subjected to painful treatments, which he demanded to have terminated. But he was denied the right to make the decision. The film spans a ten-year period, allowing one the perspective of time. Dax made a great deal of progress over the years. He moved into his own house, started a business and married. Yet he has never changed his mind that he should have been allowed to die, and in fact made several suicide attempts after he was first released from the hospital. We hear the positions of doctors, nurses, family and friends both at the time of the crisis, and again ten years later. Their conflicting views leave one to wrestle with how "Dax's Case" should have been decided.