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Memento mori

Niobe Thompson
2016 | 90 min

Prizes and awards

  • Official SelectionAtlantic Film Festival 2016

  • Official SelectionCinequest Film & VR Festival 2017

  • Best DocumentaryCinequest Film & VR Festival 2017

  • Grand PrizeInternational Scientific Film Festival, Szolnok 2017

Short Synopsis

Long Synopsis


Clip #1

Clip #2


Promotional Materials

There is also a 52 minute version called Vital Bonds:

Short Synopsis

Long Synopsis


Surgeons in operating theatre.
Parents of Baby needing a transplant.
Parents waiting for result of heart transplant.
Organ transport equipment.
Husband awaits outcome of surgery for his wife.
In the operating theatre.
Entrance of the emergency.
Dean Dukart during dialysis.
Dr. Ivan Rebeyka, giving results to parents.
Pat meets Dr. Shapiro after her transplant operation.
Willis Wood needs a new heart.


Niobe Thompson

Niobe Thompson

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 (2015), The Perfect Runner (2012) and Tipping Point: The Age of the Oil Sands (2011). 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. He has a reputation for turning his body into a living laboratory, bringing science to life in ways that delight, inspire and often shock his audiences. He is as comfortable chatting with Siberian reindeer nomads and breath-hold diving with Badjao free divers as he is inside an archaeological excavation.

Memento mori is Thompson’s first collaboration with producer Rosvita Dransfeld and the National Film Board of Canada. 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.

Rosvita Dransfeld
Producer / Exec. Prod. (ID: Productions Inc.)
Photo : ID: Productions Inc.

Rosvita Dransfeld

German-born producer Rosvita Dransfeld is an internationally renowned documentary filmmaker who crafts powerful explorations of the human condition. Her films include Who Cares, The Dogwalker and Broke, winner of a Gemini award and the prestigious 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.

Her ability to capture the full humanity of her subjects and place them at the centre of her stories garnered recognition from North America’s largest documentary festival and market, Hot Docs, which organized a retrospective of her work in its 2016 Focus On spotlight.

For the production of Memento mori, Dransfeld joined forces with writer and director Niobe Thompson, who was able to bring a distinct sensibility to the subject matter and combine human drama with visually striking cinematography.

Bonnie Thompson
Photo : Debbie Boccabella

Bonnie Thompson

With over 65 producer credits, Bonnie Thompson is a veteran National Film Board of Canada producer, working with Canadian media makers and producers on a slate of documentary, interactive, and animation productions. Thompson’s productions have been screened nationally and internationally on television screens, on the web and in festivals, winning many nominations and awards.

Recent production highlights include the feature documentary, Angry Inuk which won the 2016 Hot Docs Audience Award; the Oscar and CSA nominated short animated film Wild Life; and the acclaimed Webby and FWA award winning website Bear 71.

David Christensen
Producer & Executive Producer

David Christensen

David Christensen is a Producer and Executive Producer at the National Film Board of Canada’s North West Studio, one of the NFB’s six English language studios. Some of his recent films include If I Was God, recently Oscar-shortlisted for Best Animation Short, the NFB co-produced feature documentary Hadwin’s Judgement, which premiered at the 2015 Hot Docs Film Festival, and the feature film The Forbidden Room, directed by Guy Maddin & Evan Johnson and winner of the best Canadian Feature by the Toronto Film Critics Association.

Other works that David has produced include the acclaimed documentary Everything Will Be, a devastating co-production about Indian Residential Schools entitled We Were Children, the Oscar-nominated animated short film Wild Life, and Bear 71, an online interactive web documentary that was named FWA Site of the Year. He is also very involved in emerging filmmaking and digital programmes for Nunavut filmmakers.


Directed by
Niobe Thompson

Executive Producers
Rosvita Dransfeld
David Christensen for NFB

Rosvita Dransfeld
Bonnie Thompson for NFB

Director of Photography
aAron Munson
Sergio Olivares

Scott Parker

Niobe Thompson

Jonathan Kawchuk

Assistant Editor
Esther Viragh

Additional Camerawork
Daron Donahue
Tamarra Canu

Production Manager
Sandra Tober

Production Coordinator
Esther Viragh

Production Assistants
Tamarra Canu
Dylan Rhys Howard
Myles Belland

Location Sound Recording
Philip Dransfeld
Carey Opper

Audio Post Production
Johnny Blerot Sound Inc.

Sound Design and Mix
John Blerot

Additional Sound Design
Jonathan Kawchuk

Sound Editors
John Blerot
Perry Blackman
Iain Pattison
Jordan Ivey
Chris Szott

Christine Hanson
Keri Zwicker
Jennifer McMillan
Neda Yamach
Rafael Hoekman
Dianne New
Clayton Leung
Andrew Reid
Josh Rapanos

Colour Grading and Online Masters
Joe Owens, CSI

Scott Portingale

Production Accountant
Richard Warburton

Production Bookkeeper
Hui Min

Production Solicitor
Norman Bishop

Visual Research
Gina Cali

Production Stills
Tamarra Canu

Special Thanks
Margaret Lidstone
Dr. Jim Kutsogiannis
Kim Worton

Carl and Leslie Babchishin and family
Judy and Jason Bergen Family and family
Patricia Fisher and Adrian Hodgett
Willis Wood and family
The Veyda Family
Lee Sanderson and family
Dean and Lana Dukart
Ron Kube

Alberta Health Services
University of Alberta Hospital, Stollery Children’s Hospital & Mazankowski Heart Institute:
Site Administration & Communications
Level 3 & Mazankowski Operating Rooms
Human Organ Procurement and Exchange Program (HOPE)
Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit
General Systems Intensive Care Unit
Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit
Staff of 5C4

Royal Alexandra Hospital –
General Systems Intensive Care Unit

Foothills Medical Centre, Calgary
Unit 91

Edmonton Ground Ambulance

Montreal Children’s Hospital
Operating Room

Sunwest Aviation, Calgary

STARS Air Ambulance Edmonton
ATI, (Alberta Transplant Institute)

CNTRP, (Canadian National Transplant Research Program)

Dr. Lori West Dr. Darren Hudson
Dr. Sam Shemie Dr. Derek Townsend
Dr. James Shapiro Dr. Norm Kneteman
Dr. Ivan Rebeyka Dr. Bob Broad
Dr. Daniel Kim Dr. Scott Livingstone
Dr. Simon Urschel Dr. Timothy Caulfield
Dr. Holger Buchholz Dr. Darren Freed
Dr. Dominic Cave Dr. Jayan Najendran
Dr. Vijay Anand Dr. Gerry Todd
Dr. Paul Kantor Dr. David Bigam
Dr. Monica Henry Dr. Nikul Sharma
Dr. Mary vanWijngaarden-Stephens


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