A Lion in the House

Google allows you to subscribe through an RSS or Atom feed to searches of news sources. I subscribe to several different search criteria associated with neuroblastoma or childhood/pediatric cancer. I was surprised to see an article about the Nashville Film Festival pop up in one of my feeds. It seemed even stranger when the small blurb I was presented looked like this.
Nashville Scene, USA - 1 hour ago
... That Hungarian stoner comedy or four-hour pediatric-cancer documentary will be something ... journeys too are a sort of crossing over, from childhood into adulthood ...
Further review of the article revealed this blurb about a documentary about pediatric cancer. I'm not sure where I've been hiding, but I really knew nothing about this film.
A LION IN THE HOUSE (1:15 p.m.) Simply put, Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert’s devastating documentary is one of the two or three best movies in the entire festival, perhaps even this year—although its unflinching portrait of children fighting cancer over a six-year period in the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital is something any parent will dread. Themselves parents of a cancer survivor, the filmmakers document an agonizing cycle of fragile hopes, new treatments, temporary remissions and terrifying relapses: parents age and children wither over the course of the film’s gripping four hours. And yet the overall impact is cathartic rather than depressing, in keeping with the Isak Dinesen quote that provides the film’s title—which says that you don’t know what it’s like to be alive until you’ve lived with lions. Kudos to the filmmakers and to the unimaginably brave kids and parents who gave them permission to film—some of whom will reportedly attend the screening. —J.R.
I tend to think that I do not want to see this film. I suppose I'll be torn on it. On one hand I'm very curious about how the lives of cancer families are portrayed in such a "devastating documentary". On the other hand, my family lives the life and devastation of pediatric cancer. I don't really need a four-hour on-screen dose of it. I'm pleased that this subject is getting this type of attention and I really hope that it is done and received well. We'll see if I ever work up the desire to make a judgement on that myself.

Interview with the filmakers


Carlos said...

Interesting film, and I agree that it would be hard to sit through 4 hours. I find that I too seek out some information on dealing with cerebral palsy, and that at the same time I find it hard to delve too deeply into programs or activities that bring my son's disability into sharper relief. Yesterday I admitted to the hospital an older child with quite severe CP, who was only moderately ill but clearly quite fragile. It was the first time that I'd had to have such close contact with a family caring for a disabled child, as the doctor treating their kid. I think that the family sensed my connection to them, though I did not share any of the particulars of my own situation. I just realized that it is interesting that I'll easily and quickly discuss my son's CP with any of our medical colleagues, but that in talking with other acquaintances, or this family for example, I feel quite reluctant to bring up our own experience in dealing with C's disability.
I've often found that your posts resonate with some of the feelings that I've experienced, even though our situations are clearly very different. Still, I think that the parent response to a sick child must be pretty universal. Thanks for posting.

matt dick said...

I'll want to see the film, I suppose. Perhaps you could let people around you see it and then you coudl interview us on some level to get a feel for whether you'd get something out of it.

C, let me know if this is too weird a conversation, but is your reluctance to discuss it a defense against the emotion of talking with parents of a CP kid? If you're comfortable discussing it with colleagues, I'm wondering if it isn't because they are necessarily going to be more businesslike (clinical) which is a shielding technique.

Cool Hand Luke said...

Thanks for reading, Carlos. I think there are clear parallels in our situations. For me there is an incredibly fine line to walk between staying informed, addressing the situation head-on and aggressively, and still trying to pull the good out of every single day. It is without a doubt an impossible challenge for me to find the right balance between living and addressing it and attempting to not let it be all-consuming. It is good to know that I have a friend facing similar challenges. I have never felt connected with the cancer parent community like Susan has, and while sometimes that makes me feel like a poser-"Cancer Dad", I have never truly wanted to be part of the community. It is a party I never wanted an invitation to. There are times when I sure could use a friend that understands it all at a deeper level.