Hot Docs 2018
A portrait of a young artist facing his impending death after a lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis.
Ethan was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis in his infancy, a genetic disorder that primarily impacts the lungs, resulting in difficulty breathing and other severe symptoms. Regularly given a death sentence throughout childhood and into his adult years, Ethan has survived into his late 20s, rechanneling his inability to plan longterm – work, marriage, family – into shorter-term creative endeavors including music and stop motion animation, both of which are peppered throughout Mullenneaux’s film. Despite a supportive family – particularly his stay-at-home caretaker dad, Ed, a Vietnam vet facing his own issues with PTSD – Ethan knows his condition is worsening. The film follows its often disarmingly funny protagonist as he prepares for the end, consulting with his physician about his desire not to have interventions to prolong his life when it reaches a point where he’s ready to let go – something with which Ed, in particular, has a very hard time coming to grips after decades fighting to keep his son alive. Drawing on a lifetime of home movies as well as intimate contemporary interviews, and finding a smart balance between the celebratory and the funereal, Mullenneaux constructs a sensitive and thought-provoking portrait of the process of dying on one’s own terms.