Watch: Powerful Short ‘Documenting Death’ by Sara Joe Wolansky
by Alex Billington
June 25, 2021
Source: New Yorker
“They gave her a space to reflect.” The provocative headline in the New Yorker asks the question: “What Is It Like to Be Dying?” It’s a headline for an 11-minute short film titled Documenting Death, made by New Yorker video producer Sara Joe Wolansky. The heartbreaking yet uplifting film is about the story of Kim Acquaviva and her wife, Kathy Brandt, who died of cancer in 2019. As they began to realize Brandt’s health was in decline, they decided to document and share publicly their final days together (on social media via @kimacquaviva). This short film recaps everything and shares their social media posts and more. It’s a tragic story to hear about, but they felt it was important to document anyway. “‘In a culture where we don’t share almost anything around illness and death,’ Acquaviva says in the film, ‘the only way to counter that is for some people to share a little bit more than is probably appropriate.’ The goal, she says, was to push back against the stigma associated with death and dying.” There’s something so moving and illuminating about it.
Thanks to Twitter for the tip on this. Description from New Yorker: “That the good things in life may be savored even by the dying is, in American culture, a quietly subversive idea. It is also one of the themes of Documenting Death, a new, short documentary directed & produced by New Yorker’s Sara Joe Wolansky. The film tells the story of Kim Acquaviva and her wife, Kathy Brandt, who died of cancer in 2019, at the age of fifty-four. Brandt was a hospice and palliative-care consultant and an advocate for high-quality end-of-life care; when she received her diagnosis, she and Acquaviva, a professor of nursing at the University of Virginia and an expert in end-of-life issues for LGBTQ individuals and their families, decided to document Brandt’s decline, and their family’s last days together, through frank and frequent social-media posts.” Documenting Death is directed by filmmaker Sara Joe Wolansky – visit her official website or follow her at @SjoeW. For more about this story, visit New Yorker. To see more shorts, click here. What did you think?