Death is inevitable, yet we spend most of our lives trying to ignore that fact. We use euphemisms like ‘passing on,’ as if to talk about death would make it happen sooner. On the surface this film is about death and dying, yet it’s really about living, and about learning to face our own mortality.
This moving program follows two extraordinary women who are facing death head on. Both are stage-four lung cancer patients, and have been told they have only months to live, yet they have found that moving beyond the diagnosis — preparing for what is to come — has enabled them to face each new day with resolution and a level of calm. Their openness enables their loved ones and others involved to communicate their own hopes and fears, and to begin the grieving process.
Threaded through the two women’s narratives are the perspectives of hospice workers, funeral directors, bereavement counselors and others who deal with death and with dying people on a daily basis. Palliative and hospice care are examined, as well as advance directives and how to include loved ones in end-of-life decisions. The last few chapters discuss the cycle of life and explore both religious and non-religious perspectives on the possibility of an afterlife.
By confronting what happens in the days and hours leading up to our deaths, Mortal Lessons suggests, we can free ourselves to lead richer, more rewarding lives. The film includes a chaptered menu, and two bonus tracks offering a brief look at the modern funeral industry, and at how death is portrayed in the media.
Honolulu International Film Festival
Riverside International Film Festival
ReelHeART International Film Festival