Monday, August 15, 2011

Die In Oregon, Innocent Saturday and Life In A Day

Back to the Melbourne International Film Festival, and my movie selections, my next film on my schedule was the documentary How To Die In Oregon. Following several personal stories of the choice provided to palliative patients by the legalisation of physician-assisted suicide in the US state of Oregon. The important message from each person’s story was that this afforded them a choice about their end, in contrast to the lack of control their life ending disease had bestowed upon them. Cody’s journey was the most powerful, and prominent, throughout the doco, and was so very moving. Cody’s medical answers, prognosis and then working through the option of having her end point decided, and also how this was discussed and prepared for with her young family. But the film also showed the fight for the spread of this legislation across the US, and also the plight of the volunteers who support people to end their lives through a lethal dose of a prescribed medication at a time they chose and prepared for. The ability to plan, to leave things finalised, and also to say goodbyes were the other clear advantages of such decriminalisation, and this documentary was a strong advocate for such a progressive and yet reasonable option.

On this particular evening, I skipped my late night movie, which was to be Michael, cos I was so over-tired from my Splendour weekend, and knew I could not have got through a sub-titled movie about paedophilia, and still be able to drive home to Ballarat. Turns out this movie won the award for TeleScope Award for Best New Talent from the EU for this year. A bummer to miss it.

Innocent Saturday was a Russian movie about the day the Chernobyl reactor had it’s meltdown, and about one young Communist party member who overhears about it, and tries to escape – with his downfall being that he tried to help at least one other person do the same. Convincing a girl he clearly lusted after to flee with him, our protagonist finds himself being pulled into the most unexpected activities, considering his plight to avoid nuclear radiation exposure in their little town. Pulled into a shopping trip after missing the train, for shoes of course, his girl then decides she needs to try and get her passport for their escape…but is dragged onstage with her band to play a gig for a triple wedding, paid for in advance. The infectious festivities, and then the lure of a wine-fuelled gathering with the band and old mates, often has the pending disaster forgotten. A film about real life carrying on regardless of such global events, and the notion of knowing about something ominous and how one person could convince other’s of catastrophe and their need for action.

On 24th July 2010 people all over the world answered the call to submit video footage to You Tube, for Life In A Day. This film wove this footage together to create an international snapshot of real life that day, all over the globe – from a wedding service where a couple had written each others vowels, to a father-to-be fainting as he video-ed his child coming into the world, to the full moon from every corner of the world. People going to work, looking after their child, mourning loss, telling their grandmother of their sexuality, of calling their mother for advice about how to tell a girl you love her. Vision from ordinary people, some commenting on questions posed in the task, capturing our world. No narration, this movie was funny and moving, and ultimately life affirming.

So, just 6 movies for this MIFF, but actually all very good, and 3 excellent films that I totally recommend (being Face To Face, How To Die, and Life In A Day).

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