Coming to HBO tonight, Wednesday, August 14:
ALTERNATE ENDINGS: SIX NEW WAYS TO DIE IN AMERICA
Perri Peltz and Matthew O’Neill
Aspen Ideas 2019
An exploration of how Americans are confronting death and celebrating life.
At the beginning of Perri Peltz and Matthew O’Neill’s film, it’s noted that last year was the first in which cremation was the preferred choice of Americans. With traditional burial-focused funerals losing favor, alternative and unconventional end-of-life choices are on the upswing, as represented in a brief walk through an annual funeral directors convention and a look at a drive-through viewing. While the film maintains a survey approach for its remainder, it’s a more respectful and considered one, putting the spotlight, each in turn, on six alternative ways of recognizing the dead or dying: environmentally-minded memorial reefs and green burials, freedom of autonomy-focused death with dignity/medial aid in dying and living wakes, and unorthodox ways of honoring the wishes of the recently departed, including space burials and celebrations of life – in the latter case, a Batman-themed party for the friends and family of a young boy who died of cancer. The filmmakers offer sensitive profiles in each of these cases, inviting in the audience to experience the love and loss felt by family members – in one case, watching a subject pass on camera. The result is a fitting and affecting tribute to life.