Today on the 21st of June is the Motor Neurone Disease Global Awareness Day. To spread awareness and raise funds for MND-related research, an award-winning documentary I AM BREATHING will screen across the globe simultaneously. Tonight I’m hosting a screening in a local subculture house called Genclub in Tartu, Estonia, but where ever you are at the moment – seek for a local screening in your town, as there’s 173 screenings taking place tonight!
While living and travelling around in variouscultures I have come to notice a general trend which could be summed up with the words: what is known is socially constructed, what is not known is to be afraid of. As an anthropologist, the tools I work with are about interpretation and translation – from one cultural community to another, from one language to another, from one reality to another. To create better understandings, to fight the fear.
I believe film is a great medium to fight the fear of the unknown. Yet when it comes to the matter of death we find ourselves in a paradoxical situation – we are afraid of death as this is the total unknown. No anthropologist can help us much here with interpretation. Almost all religions have tried to do so, yet death remains outside of our subjective experience, thus creating tensions, creating fear.
I saw I AM BREATHING at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam which I was attending as a media representative for Estonian independent cultural magazine Müürileht. It was a late night screening, I ended up in tears. These tears were not fully about sadness, but there was also something else – something that could perhaps be explained with this old Latin saying ‘memento mori’ – remember dying. Remember dying in order to remember living. Death is like a mirror in which the true meanings of life are reflected. Or just as Sogyal Rinpoche said:
“You will all die successfully.”
I AM BREATHING is a great film with an incredibly touching story, and I am totally willing to make my small contribution to raise MND awareness in Estonia through organizing a screening.
I AM BREATHING is about the thin space between life and death.