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SXSW 2014 Review: Beginning With The End
Adam Frazier   |  @   |  

Beginning with the End SXSW banner

Beginning with the End
Directed & Produced by David Marshall
BSP Films
Release date: March 10, 2014 (SXSW)

“I wished to live deliberately, to confront only the essential facts of life… and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Henry David Thoreau

At the Harley School in Rochester, New York, a group of high school seniors enroll in an elective class called “Hospice,” where young people tend for those whose lives are ending before their very eyes – and they know it.

On the first day of class, the students share their own experiences with death. From there, the students learn practical skills such as how to fluff a pillow, how to turn a person from their back to their side, and how to assist with feeding and giving care to those who are unable to care for themselves.

Beginning with the End, directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker David Marshall, follows teacher Bob Kane (not to be confused with the creator of Batman) and a group of teenagers who are volunteering as caregivers to dying patients at local comfort care homes.

The importance of connecting with other human beings is the ultimate life lesson in Bob’s class. As the year progresses, students witness the process of dying in a hands-on environment, which helps them understand that death is a part of life. We watch their progression from hesitant teens to confident caregivers who are confronting death and facing their fears.

At 64 minutes, Beginning with the End packs a powerful punch in a short amount of time. Hour-long documentaries are in this weird area where they’re too long to be considered a short film, and too short to be considered a full-length feature. I wish Beginning with the End was 20-30 minutes longer, to fully allow us to explore the relationships between these students and the people they’re caring for.

The film acts as more of an introduction to the idea of caregiving – a glimpse at what can be expected when volunteering at a comfort care home and providing end-of-life care. The main message to take away from Marshall’s film is that all people, no matter their age, are capable of compassion and empathy and – if they are willing – can make someone’s life better by simply spending time and lending a hand.

Beginning with the End premieres at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, TX on March 10. Hopefully it gets picked up for distribution so more people can experience this powerful, affecting little doc. For more information, visit Blue Sky Project and check out the trailer below!


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