A film of extraordinary compassion, sensitivity, and candor, the highest tribute we can pay How to Die in Oregon is to express the sincere wish that it had existed twenty years ago, and that it had been screened for the justices of the Supreme Court of Canada prior their ruling against Susan Rodriguez, who petitioned to de-criminalize assisted suicide in 1993.
Their verdict may have remained unchanged, but it is difficult to believe that the majority justices would not have been moved by the poise, courage, and grace of the film’s subjects, as captured with astonishing intimacy by sophomore documentarian Peter D. Richardson.
Winner of a 2011 Sundance Grand Jury Award, How to Die in Oregon profiles several of the 500-plus terminally ill Oregonians who have gratefully availed themselves of the state’s Death with Dignity Act since its advent in 1994. The doc also follows an advocate for a similar law recently enacted by the Washington State Legislature. Richardson’s fullest portrait is of the amazing Cody Curtis, a radiant 54-year-old wife and mother of two, diagnosed with inoperable cancer.
To say that the film is heart-wrenching is a considerable understatement, but it is also truly gratifying to witness, first-hand, the autonomy, peace of mind, and contentment for which Oregon’s law allows.
How to Die in Oregon begins an exclusive theatrical engagement at the Projection Booth from February 24.