Peter Richardson’s groundbreaking documentary, How to Die in Oregon has been nominated for an Emmy Award for best documentary! Nominees were announced today by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
This life-affirming documentary has helped people all over the world learn more about what it means to regain control of one’s own end-of-life care when faced with a terminal illness—but not by talking about Death with Dignity laws and the politics behind them. Director Peter Richardson decided to show a different perspective. After four years of filming, he created a film which sensitively and intimately portrays the use of Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act and the campaign to pass the second law in the state of Washington. Among the personal interviews with volunteers, advocates, and terminally ill patients throughout Oregon and Washington, the heart of the story emerges with Cody Curtis, her family, and her oncologist.
Richardson created a film which is at times difficult to watch because of its unflinching look at death and dying, but in the end, people come away feeling uplifted and perhaps even less afraid of death. The film doesn’t strive to tell people how they must die, but through personal accounts shows how simply having additional options for end-of-life care gives people more peace of mind in their final days. As one blogger put it, “After watching the movie, my wife and I can’t understand how anyone could argue that death with dignity shouldn’t be an option for everybody.”
The Emmy nomination is wonderful news but likely doesn’t come as a surprise to those who’ve seen the film. (If you haven’t seen it yet, order your DVD online or watch it through Amazon’s instant streaming, and a percentage of your purchase will support our work.) When How to Die in Oregon toured the film festival circuit last year, the documentary swept up awards and was hailed as “one of the most difficult-to-watch movies”, “an unflinching piece of work”, “wonderfully human”, “a different kind of love story”, and “hard but incredibly moving, even transformative watch”. Or in the words of Stan Curtis, Cody Curtis’ husband, “My wife understood the meaning of her own life. It seems like a story about dying, but actually it is very much a story about living.”
All of us at the Death with Dignity National Center heartily congratulate director Peter Richardson on this prestigious nomination, and we’ll have our fingers crossed for Richardson to give another well-deserved award acceptance speech.
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