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DEATH IN ALL ITS FORMS

About

Throughout the world, death and the rituals that surround it are steeped in taboos. Death is celebrated, embraced and feared. Around death and the dead, cultures put in place diverse restrictions and practices associated with clothing, food and ritual. We all respond differently. In these two documentaries, death is examined through the eyes of a child and through experimental filmmaking.

About this Playlist

"I saw a film that said angels could bring parents back. But it's not true...", Marie-Clara, age 6 says in “The Fiancee of Life”. How do we talk with children who have lost a parent to illness, suicide or accidental death? Too often, we are silent, assuming that our silence will protect them. In this extraordinary film, children aged six to eleven years talk openly, honestly, and profoundly about how they felt when a parent or sibling died, the memories they cherish, their fears, their beliefs about an afterlife, and how they came to terms with the fact that their mom or dad is never coming back. This compassionate and insightful look into the minds and emotions of children shocks us out of complacency and forces us to examine our own feelings about death.

“Death in the Garden of Paradise” is an intensely personal meditation on the murder of the filmmaker's father and sister in Lahore by an unknown intruder. The disassociation caused by traumatic loss and the impossibility of knowing the identity of the killer flow seamlessly into the film's aesthetics so that familiar sights become strange, shopkeepers and passing pedestrians become suspects, and sound is fragmented and distorted. Architecture and haunted spaces, deserted gardens, photographs and paintings are both metaphors and physical locations in this elegant elegy to mortality.

In Jennifer Baichwal’s “The Holier It Gets”, we look at death in yet another light. When Baichwal's father passed away, he left an unusual request. Dr. Krishna Baichwal wanted his ashes to be buried at the source of the Ganges River. Jennifer and her three siblings hadn't been raised with any formal religion; growing up, they weren't taught Hindu practices. Their father married a Londoner, eventually moved to Canada and had seemingly rejected his culture. The Holier It Gets documents Dr. Baichwal's four children as they journey through India and up the Himalayas to fulfill his request. Accompanied by Nick de Pencier, Jennifer's partner and the film's cameraman, this film is an intimate portrait of a group of Asian Canadians whose encounters with India are funny, perplexing, upsetting and, ultimately, deeply revealing.

Additional Online Resources

Death and Grief

Teen Grief Support

Dealing with the Death of a Parent

Healthy Place

Selected Films (3)
  1. The Holier it Gets Preview Thumbnail
    The Holier it Gets
    • Country:Canada
    • Year:1999
    » View Documentary
  2. Death in the Garden of Paradise Preview Thumbnail
    Death in the Garden of Paradise
    • Country:Canada, Pakistan
    • Year:2004
    » View Documentary
  3. The Fiancée of Life Preview Thumbnail
    The Fiancée of Life
    • Country:Canada
    • Year:2001
    » View Documentary

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