Into the Night: Portraits of Life and Death
Directed by Helen Whitney–In Person
“The documentary . . . is intended to break the taboo of talking about the inevitable. Whitney’s film is one of the first major documents of the Death Positive movement.” —Richard Whittaker, Austin Chronicle
Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Helen Whitney’s latest film features nine men and women grappling with the universal questions posted by our mortality. She asks us how we endure when we know death is near with defiance—as Dylan Thomas exhorts us, “To rage, rage against the dying of the light”—or with gentle acceptance? Death is an experience that comes to us all and Whitney’s film covers a spectrum of responses to the difficult topic from the approach of a scientist, historian, futurist, clergy, environmentalist, surgeon, mortician, and others. The film taps into an emerging movement driven in part by Baby Boomers and millennials seeking greater honesty, openness, and the opportunity to create their own, authentic rituals around death and dying. 2017, U.S., DCP, 124 minutes. Recommended for 13+. There will be a post-screening discussion between director Helen Whitney and Before I Die co-founder Justin Magnuson.
Helen Whitney has worked as a producer, director and writer for documentaries and feature films since 1976. Her films have ranged over subjects such as youth gangs, presidential candidates, a Trappist monastery, Richard Avedon, John Paul II, the September 11 attacks, Mormons, and the topic of forgiveness. She has received many honors including an Emmy Award and a Peabody Award.
Justin Magnuson’s passion for changing how our culture approaches the end-of-life has been inspired by his years of hospice volunteering and the experience of being his grandmother’s health care surrogate. Justin co-founded Before I Die Fest in 2016, and now works at the University of Louisville working on improving advance care planning and interdisciplinary geriatric care.