SXSW 2011 Film Reviews

How to Die in Oregon

Festival Favorites
D: Peter D. Richardson

The short answer to how people die in Oregon is this: with dignity – dignity and options. As the first state in the U.S. to legalize physician-assisted suicide in 1994, Oregon is the obvious place to study the process by which the terminally ill and their care providers handle this controversial freedom. Intimate and deeply emotional, Richardson’s documentary takes in the perspectives of physicians, counselors, and patients. Particular attention is paid to the experience of Cody Curtis, a 54-year-old woman with recurrent liver cancer, along with those of her family and longtime doctor. We also witness the comfort that many derive just from knowing the option is out there, when and if they choose to (so to speak) die with their boots on. Winner of the best documentary award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the film is also scheduled to play later this year on HBO, which is good to know for those averse to sniffling in public.

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