No one knows the day or hour of one's death, and most of us hope ours will be quick and painless. But when incurable illness strikes—accompanied by extreme pain, physical incapacity, and reduced quality of life—one is confronted with difficult questions about how to spare oneself, as well as family members and loved ones, the long, slow, drawn-out agony of our ultimate demise. Social taboos about death have generated legal, medical, and ethical prohibitions against voluntary euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide.
Switzerland is presently the only country in the world where suicide assistance is legal. EXIT: THE RIGHT TO DIE profiles that nation's EXIT organization, which for over twenty years has provided volunteers who counsel and accompany the terminally-ill and severely handicapped towards a death of their choice. The film reveals intimate conversations between terminally-ill patients, family members and EXIT escorts, visits an annual membership meeting, an international conference, an EXIT staff meeting and frank conversations between its volunteers about the personal emotional toll of their work.
EXIT also profiles several of the organization's officers as well as its members, and follows one incurable woman's dilemma to its emotionally devastating conclusion, witnessing the deliberate and exacting discussions between doctor and patient leading up to a final decision, and the medical procedures involved in her "self-deliverance." This remarkable documentary illuminates the many sensitive issues surrounding this controversial social issue, and, in chronicling several real-life stories, confronts us with the question: Why, when necessary, shouldn't one have the right to choose the means and time of one's own death?
" * * * ½ [3.5 stars]! Highly Recommended! Serenely paced... this poignant, thought-provoking film endows [the issues] with a powerful human dimension."—Video Librarian
2007 American Psychological Association Convention
Best Documentary, 2006 Swiss Cinema Awards
Best Documentary, 2005 Namur International Film Festival
2006 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
"A clear-eyed study, which details [an] innovative approach to helping citizens die in a manner of their own choosing."—The New York Sun
"Steely and compassionate."—Dennis Lim, The New York Times
"Powerful and poignant! EXIT confronts the viewer, head-on, with their own mortality. A landmark reference in the humanitarian fight for individual human rights, self-determination and self-deliverance."—Leonardo Reviews
"Explores a taboo topic while remaining respectful of the people it depicts. A compassionate and edifying movie."—NJ Star Ledger
"The humane, direct approach says much more about the fraught issue than any political speech ever could."—New York Magazine
"Highly Recommended!"—Educational Media Reviews Online
"Highly recommended for academic and public libraries."Library Journal