the Hemlock Society of San Diego  

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The Hemlock Society of San Diego
Right to Die Film Festival

Over the years we have brought you (or brought you to) outstanding movies and documentaries dealing with the problems associated with the search for a peaceful death.

Our films are shown every other month, usually the third Sunday of the month, at various libraries around San Diego County. See our homepage for information on upcoming films in our Right to Die Film Festival.


6/16/19 - Paddleton
A "guy" way of looking at the end of life. It very nicely portrays the process of using California's End of Life Option Act (EOLOA), how a person who is alone needs a companion to be with , and the many ways sadness, friendship and loss can be portrayed without an overt display of emotion. It completely overlooks the difficulty of finding a participating doctor and involves a 6-hr. trip to obtain the medication, which is not necessary, as EOLOA allows delivery of the drug via mail, UPS, FedEx or messenger .

4/21/19 - I Accuse (Ich klage an)
I Accuse is a classic and controversial German film from 1941 about euthanasia, or mercy killing. A doctor admits to administering a fatal overdose to his incurably ill wife and is judged in court — and in the public forum. The subliminal message many read into it, that it justified the Nazis taking the lives of handicapped people, was unintended. The Director argued that this film is "a document of humanity in an inhuman time." Rarely seen, this gentle and loving movie deals with a subject as controversial then as it is now.

2/17/19 - The Leisure Seeker
Studies show that most people would want to die at home. BUT — not these two! Why not live it up in the time remaining rather than sit in a nursing home? See how these two award winners solve the problem — and defy their kids.
A romantic comedy that gives an optimistic slant to the end of life. With Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland


12/16/18- Wit
The 2001 HBO adaptation of Margaret Edson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play about dying and death, directed by Mike Nichols. An intellectual professor (played by Emma Thompson) suffers through the effects of an experimental therapy for cancer. A kind nurse and a DNR order turn things around.

10/21/18- You're Not You
A life-changing bond develops between a woman (Hilary Swank) with ALS whose marriage is on the rocks and the brash collegian (Emmy Rossum) hired to be her assistant.
At what point does this talented woman feel her life is at an end? What can she do about it?

8/18/18- Ikiru (To Live)
One of director Akira Kurosawa's most famous films, this 1952 masterpiece is about Mr. Watanabe, a man who discovers he has terminal cancer.
How he decides to use the time left to him is the question. What would you do?

6/17/18- The Sea Inside (Mar Adentro)
This 2004 award-winning film is based on the real-life story of Ramón Sampedro (played by Javier Bardem), who was left quadriplegic after a diving accident, and his 28-year campaign in support of euthanasia and the right to end his life.

4/15/18- The Event (2003) with Olympia Dukakis (U.S.)
This is a 2003 film that depicts a time when people with AIDS were ending their lives rather than suffer torturous AIDS symptoms. Olympia Dukakis plays one such individual's mother who is violently against his plan to end his life. But when he holds his final party for himself and all of his friends (they called it "Going in Style), she dramatically comes around to their viewpoint.

2/18/18- Double feature
Mary Kills People

This was a serious and highly rated TV program about two doctors who, in their extra time, help suffering people who plead for it, to end their lives. This does not romanticize or minimize the dangers and risks of doing this.
By Dutch psychiatrist Boudewijn Chabot this film has five speakers, discussing various methods of self-deliverance. Three of the speakers are loved ones of people who used the method. One is a doctor who helped someone die - under the Dutch law. The fifth is an 80 year old woman describing her analysis of the three methods with pros and cons. It is an excellent, rational discussion of planning for the end of life.


12/17/17 Youth in Oregon
Frank Langella plays a retired doctor who is unwilling to endure further treatment for a hopeless heart condition. But when he announces his intention to travel from New York to Oregon to seek legal approval to end his life comfortably, his family rebels.

10/15/17 Dark Victory
In this 1939 film Betty Davis plays a long island socialite/heiress who has a malignant brain tumor.

8/20/17 An Act of Murder
A stern hard-liner judge with little mercy has a moral dilemma when his wife is diagnosed with an incurable and painful illness. This 1948 film features Fredric March as the husband/judge.

6/18/17 Me Before You
A 2016American-British film shot in beautiful British settings. A young handsome, wealthy man confined to a wheel chair, wants to end his life at Dignitas in Switzerland. Love develops with his caregiver; she is strenuously opposed to his hastening his death.

4/9/17 Critical Care
A 1997 film directed by Sidney Lumet. It is a satire about American medicine and keeping patients alive, including the role of insurance. Our movies don't usually make you laugh but this one should. R rated ! The film is about a doctor who finds himself involved in a fight with two half sisters over the care of their ailing father. With Helen Mirren, Anne Bancroft, and Albert Brooks !

2/19/17 Still Alice
The story of a young professor who develops early onset Alzheimer's. What would you do? How would your family react? What if you could no longer keep your job? Would you try to take your life? How? How can you make sure it would work?


12/18/16 Amour
What happens to an older couple when one gets sick and the other tries to be the caregiver. AMOUR is an award winning French film showing the course of desperation and helplessness that leads to a startling climax.

10/16/16 Live and Let Go: An American Death
Independent, patriotic, realistic, optimistic, terminally ill Sam Niver plans and executes his own death — with the help of his two adult children.

8/21/16 Okuribito (Departures)
A sensitive award-winning Japanese film about a young man who stumbled across a job working as a Japanese ritual mortician. Shunned by his wife and friends for working with death, they changed their minds when they realize the beauty and dignity he brings to the dead and the comfort he provides their loved ones.

6/19/16 Harold and Maude
1971 dark comedy film classic: Harold, obsessed with death, meets the 79-year-old carefree Maude.

4/17/16 Honey (Miele)
An Italian film about a young woman who helps people die.
What happens when her guidelines are violated? How does this occupation affect her life? Are there other “Honeys” around? Should there be?

2/21/16 How to Die in Oregon
How terminally ill persons, their family, and friends consider whether and when to take a lethal medication overdose as allowed in Oregon since 1997 and soon to be available in California through the End of Life Option Act. Winner of Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize. Presented by the Hemlock Society of San Diego.


12/19/15 Being Mortal
Based on the best-selling book by Dr. Atul Gawande, this documentary shows him meeting with colleagues and patients to discuss treatment choices at the end of life. Up-close and even better than the book!

10/18/15 The Farewell Pary (Israel)
(Residents of a retirement community figure out how to help their fellow retirees who are suffering a bad death.)

8/16/16 La Grande Bouffe (The Big Feast)  In this 1973 award-winning French-Italian film with Marcello Mastroianni, four gourmet friends rent a chateau. If you ever thought about how it would be to eat yourself to death, this will amuse and entertain you.

6/14/15 37: A Final Promise - A boy helps his brother die and makes a vow to himself to end his own life at 37— until he falls in love with a woman with ALS who needs his help. Based on the novel, How Angel's Die, by British musician, Guy Blews.

4/19/15 Guzaarish - A beautiful woman, a handsome charming magician who is also a quadriplegic—in a beautiful house with wonderful music. But he wants to die —and the court denies him. A love story with a bittersweet ending.

2/22/15 The Sea Inside - Xavier Barden (A Spanish film about a quadriplegic man who gets help to die from a Spanish RTD group)


12/21/14 One True Thing - Meryl Streep and Renee Zelwegger
(Cancer patient dies from an overdose. Who did it?)

8/16/14 Dying Wish
(Documentary of a doctor dying by stopping eating and drinking)

6/22/14 How to Die in Oregon
(Documentary about people using the Oregon Death with Dignity Law)

2/16/14 A Short Stay in Switzerland
(Fictional account of a true story of a doctor going to Dignitas to die)


12/12/13 The Suicide Plan
(Frontline account about Final Exit Network and other RTD activities)

10/26/13 The Barbarian Invasions
(Canadian fictional account of a disagreeable man who dies peacefully)

8/11/13 Whose Life Is It Anyway? - Richard Dreyfuss
(Classic movie of a quadriplegic who wants treatment removed)

2/3/13 Grace Quigley - Katherine Hepburn and Nick Nolte
(Old lady finds a reluctant hit man to help her older friends die)

1/27/13 Amour (shown at a movie theater)
(An older man caring for his wife who has repeated strokes)

1/20/13 Right of Way - Bette Davis and Jimmy Stewart
(An older couple want to die together despite daughter's protestations)


8/18/12 How to Die in Oregon
(Documentary about people using the Oregon Death with Dignity Law)

10/27/12 A Short Stay in Switzerland
(Fictional account of a true story of a doctor going to Dignitas to die)

5/13/12 How to Die in Oregon
(Documentary about people using the Oregon Death with Dignity Law)

1/15/12 A Short Stay in Switzerland
(Fictional account of a true story of a doctor going to Dignitas to die)


6/11/11 Shaking Hands with Death
(Speech given by British author, Terry Pratchett, about his dementia)

4/23/11 You Don't Know Jack - Al Pacino and John Goodman
(TV movie about Jack Kevorkian and his crusade to provide a peaceful death)


1/10/10 Mademoiselle and the Doctor (80 year old healthy woman wants to die)


1/10/09 The Suicide Tourist
(Documentary about an ALS patient who goes to Dignitas)

and more....

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