REVIEW: HOW TO DIE IN OREGON
In 1994, Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Since then, more than 500 Oregonians have ended their life using the law, known as the Death with Dignity Act. Despite the law’s controversy, there are many who support its power to end the suffering of either themselves or a loved one. HOW TO DIE IN OREGON follows the powerful stories of some of these people, as they grapple with their life circumstances and the concept of dying with dignity and
Director Peter Richardson’s film presents an emotional yet life-affirming look at death and dying through the eyes of the terminally ill as they consider whether to end their lives by lethal overdose. With the support and trust of his subjects and their families, Richardson is given unprecedented access to some of their most private and vulnerable moments as they share intimate stories and experiences with illness and their struggle in deciding whether to end their
The film provides a compassionate look at their lives and is clear-eyed and unflinching in its portrayal. HOW TO DIE IN OREGON features in-depth interviews with patients’ families and friends, activists, physicians and the patients themselves as they explore sensitive issues with courage and openness, despite the emotional turmoil it
Taking a neutral stance, the film highlights:
“Compassion and Choices” Advocacy
Group—Sue Dessayer Porter has been an active member of the group for seven years and provides information and emotional support for terminally ill patients choosing to end their life. Volunteers from the group also assist in preparing patients before and during the aid-in-dying process.
Political Activists—In the state of Washington, Nancy Niedzielski’s husband’s dying wish, following a battle with brain and spinal cord cancer, was that she help change the law. By campaigning intensely for the I-1000 initiative, she was part of the historic passing of the Death with Dignity Act in 2008, making Washington the second state to allow some terminally ill patients to end their lives.
Derek Humphry—As the founder of the Hemlock Society in 1980, Humphry wrote the best-seller, Final Exit, and continues to advocate for other states to pass a law similar to the Death with Dignity Act in Oregon.
The Patients—At the heart of the film are the terminally ill, who share their struggle while their family and friends stand by their side. Featured in the film are: ■Cody Curtis, an eloquent and enlightened wife and mother suffering from liver cancer, who outlives her doctor’s expectations but is prepared to take matters into her own hands if the pain becomes unbearable.
Television and radio personality Ray Carnay, who recorded his eulogy in a studio after refusing to have his voice box removed due to throat cancer.
Randy Stroup, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2006 and was outraged to learn that, while the Oregon health plan did not cover his cancer treatment, it offered comfort and palliative care options, which included physician aid-in-dying.
Today, the Death with Dignity Act remains a hot button issue in Capitol Hill as Massachusetts and Vermont are likely to include the controversial measure on the November 2012
HOW TO DIE IN OREGON won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, was a Top 10 Audience Favorite at Hot Docs, and won the Kathleen Bryan Edwards Award for Human Rights at the 2011 Full Frame Documentary Film
Following its cable premiere on HBO last May, HOW TO DIE IN OREGON will be released by Docurama Films on DVD on February 14.
Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
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