Nurses

I got up at 6.30 a.m. this morning to get to Strathcarron Hospice to show four of the very experienced nursing staff the film TUESDAYS we have made with the Maggie's Centre in Dundee. On the road by 7.20 a.m.… Brain into gear at one minute to 9. It was the first showing of the final version of the film. There was total silence from the four nurses as the women on the screen took us through their lives.

“Well that’s not what you read in the text-books,” was the first response. “You know what these women have done?” – I steeled myself.

“They’ve put it into words – the confusion, the thoughts, all the different emotions that people want to and can’t say. It’s not sad. Not sad at all. It's what we see on the ward...it's the black humour...the friendship....it's beautiful and true and doctors and nurses need to see this film. ”

I believe her. Not only because she is a consummate professional, but also because I have watched this gorgeous woman sing and dance her patients into well-being at Strathcarron Hospice. And I keep filming it.

The film about the Maggie's Centre is with the sound designer Marcelo de Oliveiri right now, and will have its premiere in Dundee on Wednesday 4th April, when the amazing women in the film will be there to talk to the audience. Tickets are free but limited: RSVP here.

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Screening and workshop in Uist

Amy will be screening THE EDGE OF DREAMING on Friday 16th and running a workshop on Saturday 17th. Book your ferry to the Outer Hebrides now. :-)

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Maggie's Centre clips shown in Edinburgh

I am presenting clips from my film on the Maggie's Centre on Thursday night in Edinburgh, in a Forum on Spirtuality, Religion and Film as part of the Edinburgh International Festival of Middle Eastern Spirituality and Peace.

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Services to Humanity

This week I showed the final cut of the film I have been making with five women at the Maggie's Centre, Dundee. Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres are a charity that builds stunningly beautiful houses close to hospitals: places to go for well-being when you've been hit with the cancer diagnosis.

These women were brave and open and let me into their lives over the last ten months, sharing the messiness and fear, as well as their kindness and of course, their riotous sense of humour! Once the worst has happened, there is not much left to fear, time is short, and hey, life is for living!

It's a paradox – the film, through these women, looks death right in the face. So it is scary. But somehow, by going through the journey with them, you come out braver, less scared – it  gives you courage. The film is with the fab composer Lennert Busch just now, and we will have a launch in April at Dundee Contemporary Arts, and then one in London. These women seem like front-runners to me. I feel I am slugging along behind them. They deserve medals – services to humanity. Order of generous.

From the film about the Maggie's Centre

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Digging in the dirt – or reflecting dreams?

Documentary makers often come from journalism: they are socially and politically engaged, and incredibly good at investigation – digging the dirt, winkling out false claims, getting behind spin and unearthing the facts. UK television has built a strong body of work based on this tradition. It fits in with our politics by debate and democratic ideals. It results in guidelines not to show our films to our subjects – that is seen as undermining impartiality.

But for those of us who see documentary as a dialogue with our subjects, as a mirror to reflect their lives or dreams or hopes, impartiality is not the right aim. 

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"How doctors die"

This was shared by Claire Willocks on the Facebook page of THE EDGE OF DREAMING. It's an article by Ken Murray, a U.S. doctor, about how doctors, who are more familiar than most with the events and choices that precede hospital death, plan for their own deaths. Here's the opening paragraph...

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Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone. Right now, I am spending every day filming either in a hospice, or in the Maggie's Centre, or with a group of doctors. That's a lot of mortality, a lot of death, that I see every week.

And this is my present to myself, my coping strategy – a tiny(ish) furry red bundle of optimism called Mitsuki, a foal, who loves more than anything to be scratched. Here he is, exploring snow and my husband with snowshovel for the first time. All best wishes for 2012!

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