Death might be one of life’s only certainties but it remains something of a taboo topic in polite society.
A new documentary film screening on ABC2 aims to take the discussion of death out of the shadows. Screening as part of the channel’s Opening Shot series of documentaries produced by young Australians, The Final Word is a series of in-depth interviews with four people of different ages and walks of life who are living with a terminal illness. The film follows them as they look back on their lives and grapple with the question of what their final words would be.
The film’s director, Dan Mansour, wanted to explore whether people would change the way they lived their lives when confronted by their own mortality.
“A lot of people who are dying, they may have a different outlook on the world, because the majority of us don’t know when we’re going to die, so we go about living our life,” he said. “But if you actually knew the fact that you were going to die and you had a timeframe, whether it was a day, a week, a month, or a year, would you approach the world differently, would you look at your life differently?”
One the film subjects is Kylie Polglase. The 26 year-old’s acute awareness of death comes from living her whole life with cystic fibrosis. The disease dramatically reduces lung function, meaning that catching a cold or the flu could be potentially fatal.
“I’ve never really been sheltered from speaking about it and planning for it and stuff like that, so I’m interested in speaking about it as much as possible, for me it’s not taboo, it’s not uncomfortable, and it’s something I’m very passionate about getting out into society to make them realise that it’s something that should be more openly discussed”, she said.
Participating in the documentary gave Kylie an opportunity to articulate her thoughts on death, and her life.
“Because even people who love me, my family and my friends, even though they’re very aware of my situation, they’re still not comfortable talking about it,” she said. “So, it was very, I wouldn’t say confronting, but I felt it was very cathartic to actually sit down and be asked all these questions.”
Thought-provoking, inspiring and enlightening, The Final Word is a film that encourages viewers to break the silence surrounding this taboo.
The Final Word screens December 18 at 9:30pm on ABC2.