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Seven Songs for a Long Life

Sunday, May 8, 2016 - 4:30pm

Seven Songs for a Long Life

Amy Hardie | 
Scotland |
 2015 | 
82 minutes

Everyone has their favourite songs — they can be a surprisingly poignant pop song or a classic Sinatra tune. When you see people sing the songs that matter to them, the experience can be cathartic. The patients at Strathcarron Hospice, in Scotland, use music and song as therapy to cope with some of life’s most challenging moments. The idea was first introduced by Mandy Malcomson, a nurse at the hospice, who encouraged her patients to open up through music. Made over three years in Strathcarron, director Amy Hardie’s extraordinary work finds a delicate balance between intimacy and access as patients and their caregivers deal with the physical realities of long-term illness and palliative care. Death is present, but it certainly isn’t the only thing here. Family, love, and humour are abundantly, gloriously present. -BH

This incredibly moving documentary is all the more affecting because of the unsentimental way it’s told. An assortment of patients and staff at Strathcarron are profiled as they face down the end. Encouraged by nurse Mandy Malcomson, an emotionally gifted care-giver, patients and staff use singing as therapy and the musical moments become the way in for lightly sketched portraits about each of their lives. Some rage, some cry and others quietly prepare memory boxes and plan for their children’s future care, but all are treated with honesty, dignity and affection. Hardie has a particularly good eye for the evocative, quiet moments when the terminally ill and their loved ones are shown striving to live life as normally as possible, by cooking sausages, rollerskating or just watching a shopping channel. -THE GUARDIAN


Amy Hardie

Dr. Amy Hardie is a documentary filmmaker with several international awards. Her documentary feature The Edge of Dreaming, was the first Scottish feature documentary to be selected for competition at IDFA in 2009 and was awarded the Grand Jury Prize, Kiev International Film Festival. She graduated from the National Film and Television School in 1990 with the BP Expo prize for best student documentary (Kafi’s Story).