The acclaimed “Consider the Conversation: A Documentary on a Taboo Subject” was screened at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago on Wednesday, in collaboration with the Chicago End-of-Life Care Coalition.
Directed by longtime friends Terry Kaldhusdal, a fourth grade teacher and filmmaker, and Michael Bernhagen, a hospice advocate, the film showcases interviews with health care professionals, religious leaders and the terminally ill in order to explain the importance of having the freedom to choose one’s end of life preferences. It also highlights the moral dilemmas surrounding the hastening of death, such as stopping eating and drinking, for those suffering and the artificial prolonging of life.
Loretta Downs, the CECC president, thanked the audience for being brave enough to watch such an emotionally evocative film. “Now we are living for years with chronic illnesses that before would have killed us. We think that we will never die, but we are required to talk about end of life,” said Downs, who is also featured in the documentary. “The film has inspired many people to have these conversations.”
The audience seemed to enjoy the film and engaged in a lively conversation afterwards. “I thought it was excellent, said Susan Thompson, 75. “It emphasized being natural in the most difficult moments of death and life.”
Laura Pond, 54, said she did not like the film’s stance on hastened death. “I found it difficult to watch because I have a chronic illness and I thought people in the film were giving up,” she said. “You do not give up. It is not God’s plan.”
Marty Preiss, 60, said she found the film both compelling and engaging. She is planning a similar event for a screening at her church in Chicago’s northern suburbs.
The film has also been well received by health care professionals. “I have never recommended a film on the end of life before. But people deserve to see “Consider the Conversation” because it deepens our passion for life and enriches our lives,” wrote Compassion and Choices’ Barbara Coombs Lee.
“Consider the Conversation” has won multiple awards, including the Award of Excellence in End-of-Life Care from Agrace HospiceCare and the Silver Award of Excellence: Best Documentary or News Special from the Milwaukee Press Club.
Part two: “Consider the Conversation: A Documentary About Unintended Consequences” will be released early next year.
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