Everyday Activist - Netflix Short Docs: End Game (2018) | Extremis (2016) | Zion (2018)

Posted on Thursday, October 04, 2018 at 10:00 PM

Netflix Short Docs: End Game (2018) / Extremis (2016) / Zion (2018)

Movie Review by Everyday Activist X CalgaryMovies.com

I received the Short List for Short Films link to the NYC documentary festival and luckily enough Netflix had a couple of the short documentaries, End Game and Zion. Dr. B.J Miller, featured in End Game, moved past his disability of losing his left arm below the elbow and both his legs below the knee in a freak accident to obtain a medical degree to counsel palliative care patients. Zion’s birth defect of missing legs didn’t stop him from becoming a wrestler. End Game reminded me of the 2016 Oscar Nominated, Extremis which has the same premise regarding end of life care, but the two films handle the subject differently.

Extremis highlighted the modern way of dying; hooked up to machines in a hospital, waiting for the order to stop treatment. Doctors wrestle with their conscience deciding whether to keep patients alive or let them go using the best information available. Talking to the families about end of life care was difficult, because people don’t acknowledge that death is a natural process. Director Dan Krauss does a fantastic job using the lighting to give the sense of institutionalization, which I never noticed until I compared it to the bright, sunny scenes in End Game.

Fingers crossed End Game gets an Oscar nod, because it is a powerful film with a positive message for the living. Even though death comes to us all, we have a choice in how we relate to it. Dr. Miller encourages his patient, Thekla, to makes friends with death and confidently says to her from his experience attending to the dying, “wherever we’re going, whatever abyss we’re meeting, ain’t that bad.” I appreciated how candid he was about his journey, overcoming the loss of limbs, while discussing suffering as the gap between what we have and what we want. He cites acceptance as the key when saying, “When this became the whole me, not me missing stuff, I stopped suffering.” Who knew? We have a choice in how we choose to live.

For an eleven minute film, I didn’t expect to cry. Zion was born physically handicapped. After his parents gave him up, he somehow survived foster care to end up in a loving and supportive home that allowed him to be himself. Because he had always been close to the ground, he wasn’t comfortable wearing prosthetics. Eventually, he gave them up when he found wrestling. Coach Donahue had an amazing way of tailoring the sport to Zion’s strengths and abilities to the point where Zion was able to beat some of the best wrestlers in Ohio. His success gave him confidence as well as acceptance for his achievements and the opportunity to attend post secondary transferring from community college to Kent State Tuscarawas University. The tattoo on his back says it all, “No Excuses”.

While not the most cheerful topics, death and disability remind us how precious life is. Given my recent brushes with death, films weren’t enough. I picked up Stephen Jenkinson’s book Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul. I bought my ticket to his event Nights of Grief and Mystery on Thu, Oct 11, 2018 at the Plaza Theatre, though I’m not sure if he’s signing books. Just as well, because I lent my copy out! If the name sounds familiar, Tim Wilson had made a movie about him in 2008, Griefwalker, which I will review soon. 

Calgary Showtimes:  End Game (2018) > | Extremis (2016) > | Zion (2018) >


NOTE: The showtimes listed on CalgaryMovies.com come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to CalgaryMovies.com.