October 24, 2016 – Vancouver – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)
An uncompromising cinematic journey alongside the living and the dying inside Edmonton’s world-renowned Alberta Transplant Institute, the feature-length documentary Memento mori makes its hometown premiere at the Metro Cinema, on Thursday, November 10, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, November 13, at 1 p.m.
Created by two acclaimed Canadian documentarians, director Niobe Thompson and producer Rosvita Dransfeld, Memento mori (National Film Board of Canada/ID: Productions) brings us face-to-face with every facet of the human experience—joy, anguish, pain, and moments of profound appreciation for the beauty of life and the inevitability of death—in cinéma-vérité style.
Discussion with filmmakers and producers after the screening
The November 10 screening will be followed by a Q&A with Rosvita Dransfeld, Niobe Thompson and NFB producer Bonnie Thompson. Memento mori was produced and executive produced by Rosvita Dransfeld for ID: Productions, and produced by Bonnie Thompson and executive produced by David Christensen for the NFB’s North West Studio in Edmonton.
About Memento mori
Memento mori captures the human side of transplant medicine in unprecedented detail and with unvarnished honesty. We follow as organs are rushed by air and ground ambulance to the hospital, while the ticking clock threatens to slam the door on these efforts. Through long nights in the surgical theatre, in small meeting rooms inside the ICU, and at the patients’ bedsides, we witness the painful decisions that lead to life—and to death.
Matthew is the 28-year-old victim of a senseless tragedy, fighting for life surrounded by his shocked parents and family. A floor away, a newborn baby is also fading, the tragic victim of an accidental fentanyl overdose, while her young parents pray for a miracle. Fathers and grandfathers sit in agonizing limbo, hoping they will have a future with their children if the right organs turn up in time.
A TV-hour version of the film, entitled Vital Bonds, premieres Thursday, November 17, at 8:00 p.m. (8:30 p.m. NT) on CBC Television’s The Nature of Things with David Suzuki.
About the creators
Director and writer Niobe Thompson has won four Gemini and Canadian Screen Awards for his visually arresting and playfully intelligent science and nature documentaries, which include The Great Human Odyssey, The Perfect Runner and Tipping Point: The Age of the Oil Sands. A Cambridge-trained anthropologist turned filmmaker, Thompson works on both sides of the camera and is known for his fascination with the human journey, from our evolutionary origins to the present day. Memento mori is Thompson’s first collaboration with producer Rosvita Dransfeld and the NFB. His background as a social anthropologist was a vital ingredient in building intimate and trusting relationships with patients and donor families, in order to bring their stories to the screen with honesty and sensitivity.
German-born producer Rosvita Dransfeld is an internationally renowned documentary filmmaker who crafts powerful explorations of the human condition. Her films include the NFB co-productions Who Cares and The Dogwalker, as well as Broke, winner of the Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/Political Documentary. Dransfeld has become one of Canada’s most celebrated contemporary producers. POV Magazine has called her “a modern master of vérité.” She insists on using only natural lighting and low-impact filmmaking, ensuring that the film crew understands where the story lies. Her goal is to reach deep into the heart of worlds too often hidden from view, and to do so in ways that connect the audience to the subjects on screen and provoke reflection from both.
Alberta Transplant Institute
Join the conversation: #transplantdoc
Online Screening Room: NFB.ca
Katja De Bock
Director, Communications, Partnerships and Public Affairs, NFB
About ID: Productions
ID is an award-winning documentary film and digital media company dedicated to using cinema as a catalyst for social and political change. Our mandate is to create films and media strategies that empower and inspire. Over the years, ID has worked nationally and internationally with a wide range of partners, including the NFB, CBC, TVO, Knowledge Network, CTV, OMNI TV, ZDF, ARD and ARTE.
About the NFB
The NFB is Canada’s public producer of award-winning creative documentaries, auteur animation, and groundbreaking interactive stories, installations and participatory experiences. NFB producers are deeply embedded in communities across the country, working with talented artists and creators in production studios from St. John’s to Vancouver, on projects that stand out for their excellence in storytelling, their innovation, and their social resonance. NFB productions have won over 5,000 awards, including 15 Canadian Screen Awards, 17 Webbys, 12 Oscars and more than 90 Genies. To access many of these works, visit NFB.ca or download the NFB’s apps for mobile devices and connected TV.