Into the Night: Portraits of Life and Death, part 2

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: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Post-Production


Into the Night: Portraits of Life and Death, part 2 features intimate, provocative stories of nine men and women forever changed by their encounters with mortality.


Into the Night: Portraits of Life and Death, part 2 features nine fascinating men and women from all walks of life, believers, and unbelievers, well-known and obscure. For them death is no longer an abstraction, far off in the future. They have truly awakened to their mortality -- and are forever changed.


“Death is our first and last question, Why?” And we ask it with the same amount of grief and incomprehension, rage and acceptance, at sixty as at six. There isn’t a person on the planet who doesn’t worry and wonder about death. There has been a seismic shift in our culture in recent years. There is a desire for deeper conversation, driven in part by the boomer generation (my own). Millennials are also asking a whole new set of questions and pushing for greater openness. Death salons, death cafes, the death positive movement, the wave of books and films on the subject, and a new genre, of death memoirs. All of them a testament to this hunger. I wanted to create a film that not only tapped into this hunger but also broke new ground. Most films about this subject focus on the terrible state of health care for the aging and on the question of choice over the manner and time of our death. These are critically important issues, worthy of hundreds of films. But I decided to focus on a different landscape, the interior one -- our struggle to comprehend our own mortality. I am of an age when mortality presses in on me, as it does for many of my friends. This film gave me permission to approach people for whom death had become real. Not abstract. Not far off in the future. And to ask rare and intimate questions. How do you get through this life knowing that one day you will die? What is the story that sustains you and offers solace? Or has it fallen away at the end? What is of ultimate value? What do you imagine is next? Afterlife? Oblivion, or moving into the nether world of pure energy? Their answers can be life-changing. In the end, Into The Night, part 2, like its predecessor, is as much about life as it is about death. It is my hope that the journeys of these nine men and women will provoke the conversations we yearn to have with each other – and with ourselves -- though too often we turn away in fear and denial. And to have these conversations now! To live consciously now, before we are diminished in health, dementia, or close to death. It is also my hope that people will leave the film enlivened, even exhilarated, and see death as a gateway to a fuller, more conscious life. Following the initial PBS broadcast of Into the Night, part 1, the recent second rebroadcast, and its streaming on HULU, there has been an outpouring of poignant personal responses to the film via email and social media. People express gratitude for “opening up the conversation,” “for lessening their fears about dying,” and for helping them feel “less alone.” Colleagues, friends, and our funders believe, as I do, that Part 2 is as strong and provoking as Part 1. We are especially excited about the possibility of both films being screened together.


Helen Whitney - Director/Producer
Emmy and Peabody award-winning, film producer, director and writer Helen Whitney has been a prolific creator of documentaries and feature films. Her compelling subject matter has included topics such as youth gangs, presidential candidates, the McCarthy era, mental illness, Pope John Paul II, Great Britain’s class structure, homosexuality and photographer Richard Avedon. Among the actors she has worked with: Lindsay Crouse, Austin Pendleton, David Strathairn, Brenda Fricker, Teresa Wright, Estelle Parsons.

Katie Taber - Senior Producer
Taber is a documentary film and television producer and director. Most recently she produced Siempre, Luis which premiered at Sundance 2020 and will be released by HBO this October. Other recent projects include Milwaukee 53206, about the impact of mass incarceration on this African-American neighborhood and co-produced the Emmy-award winning documentary The Homestretch, about the challenges faced by homeless adolescents in Chicago. Taber has worked on many films for the award-winning PBS series FRONTLINE including Life and Death in Assisted Living, Dollars and Dentists, and The Child Cases and was a co-producer on the four-part PBS NOVA series The Fabric of the Cosmos, based on the book by Brian Greene. Taber was also a founder of the award-winning Chicago-based theater company Division 13 Productions with whom she performed, wrote and directed numerous plays. Taber is currently directing a documentary about a young man who has emerged from his symptoms of autism.


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