Monday, May 30, 2016

A New Film About The 'C' Word That You Need to See

Still from The Cancer Conflict
Many moons ago (last year), while I was the publicist for a festival in the Bay Area, I chanced on a really amazing filmmaker. I chanced on quite a few amazing talents, though this guy stood out in many ways. He was hilarious; a presence. And his film,  How to Lose Jobs and Alienate Girlfriends was his own brand of comedy. It was so unique in fact, that I made it a point to promote it to the fullest of my abilities, and no matter which interview I sent him to, he managed to kill it, to no surprise on my part. I got to know him better over the run of the festival and I'm very happy to say that we remained friends.

Director Thomas Meadmore on set.
He recently told me about a new doc that he's working on. In contrast to the aforementioned film, it takes a rather serious tone. I have to be honest (cover your ears, Thomas) when I first heard the title, my gut instinct was 'well interesting, but how do you plan to make this different?' And it didn't take me long after he sent me the trailer to figure it out. Here it is in his own words: 

The front line experience of what it's like going through cancer is horrendous. I had no idea. I thought chemo was like showing up and getting an injection that made you vomit afterward. But the emotional stress people experience astounded me. Often this stress is created by the uncertainty of where their life is suddenly going, what choices to make on how to treat their cancer, the treatment itself, or even the process behind co-ordinating it all. It's not so simple and going through this when trying to heal seems counter intuitive. This film is as much about these emotional challenges as much as the treatments they are taking.
There seems to be a divide, a war or sorts going on between western and eastern medicine, especially when it comes to cancer. With the western system struggling financially and the treatments themselves often creating problems where its argued they can be helped, and with chronic illness putting immense pressure on acute based systems, it makes logical sense to look at how alternatives could work 'with' orthodox, especially in a preventative sense. I don't know what the solution is long term, but I see a strong case for conversation and I'm hoping this film will be a catalyst for this.

I am a pretty harsh critic, probably because I'm so freakin' smart. (eye roll emoji), and there are few people I chance upon whom when they succeed it comes as no shock to me, because although a lot of this industry is based on dumb luck, there is some sincere talent that shines through. Such is the case with filmmaker Thomas Meadmore. His style and his eye are both incredibly distinct. His tenacity and passion shines through, and the proof is in the pudding. And the pudding is delicious. 

Another haunting still from the film. 

This new film promises one that will not only be thought-provoking and profound, and unlike most retrospectives you're likely to get about something horrible that we'd rather keep out of sight and out of mind unless directly or indirectly affected by it, it lures you in with a stripped down narrative of the courage and grace of the human spirit. It somewhat reminds me of a film I recently watched called We Were Here. It's a film about the AIDS pandemic, of which there have been many. Many concern themselves with  everything surrounding the crisis; the ineffectiveness of the Reagan government, the ACT UP movement, the AZT trials, the NAMES quilt...the list goes on. But this film reaches out and grabs you at your core and almost electrifies you. It's about what is the most important about these tragedies; the affected people themselves; their struggle, and their triumph, even if they end up losing the fight, the fight is valiant. That's what comes through in Meadmore's new documentary. It's an important film made by a very impassioned director. Where's the downside? 

The trailer is not up yet, but to give you a better idea of what you're in for here are some clips of Meadmore and his prior work: 

Below, an interview I set up for Thomas and fellow filmmaker from the festival Jack James (pats thyself on back) 

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