From the Flanders (i) magazine
Death comes to all of us, but remains a taboo subject for many people. Three Flemish documentary filmmakers have ventured into this sensitive territory and emerged with striking films about the end of life. They discuss the challenges of documenting death.
Text Ian Mundell
All three filmmakers had personal reasons for beginning their projects. 'When I was very young I was scared of death,' says Maris De Smedt, whose film Claire, Me and My Brother follows the last months of a teenage girl. 'I would wake up worried about when I was going to die, and worry if my heart was still beating. I wanted to make a film about being confronted with death, so that perhaps I could live with another idea of it in the future.'
Similar anxieties motivated Nathalie Basteyns, whose film Still is about suicide. 'As a child I always feared that someone I loved would go away,' she recalls. 'Suicide was even worse, because I think it is a very lonely act.'
For Manno Lanssens the impetus came from seeing his grandmother's difficult final year. 'It was not a very nice way to die, so I asked myself: is there a good way to die? And that was the start of the project.' His documentary Epilogue, which received its world première at Visions du Réel in Nyon, follows a woman with terminal cancer as she spends her last months at home, surrounded by her family.