Documentary - Completed 2011

Neel, 50 years old and mother of three, is terminally ill. According to her oncologist she only has one year to live. Neel is determined to spend the remaining time as well as possible and to die in the right frame of mind. For her, this means accepting her approaching death and closing her life in

    • Year of production
    • 2011
    • Genres
    • Documentary
    • Countries
    • Languages
    • DUTCH
    • Director(s)
    • Manno LANSSENS
    • Producer(s)
    • Ellen DE WAELE (Serendipity Films)
    • Synopsis
    • Three years ago Neel was diagnosed with gastric and oesophageal cancer. Since then she has been under almost continuous care. Today Neel has stopped the anti-cancer treatment, but paradoxically she feels in good shape, much fitter than over the last three years.
      Neel knows the cancer cells in her body will grow again. Within a few months, maybe half a year, they will be so prevalent that it will become impossible for her to function. Her husband Mark (57) and children Sanne (28), Wannes (26) and Judith (17) try to enjoy her 'improved' health as much as possible. ‘Enjoy’ means to do as many things together as possible or to gather memories, as Sanne calls it.
      Neel, a strong and committed woman, has always been the centre of the family. But because of her illness and frequent treatments, she could no longer fulfil that role. Everyone had to try to survive. Mark clung to the daily routine of his work and hobbies. Sanne, who had an intense relationship with her mother, met David and got pregnant. She started her own family. The situation had the opposite effect on her brother Wannes; he withdrew completely from social life. As for Judith, she had to grow up too fast.
      Theirs is a typical middle class family, albeit one with outspoken, almost archetypal characters. We follow them during the last months of Neel’s life and show how they handle this difficult and confrontational situation. Each of them is highly involved, but individually they also look for ways to channel their own emotions.
      Neel, the main character, is an extraordinary woman who treats her illness and impending death in an unusually open and lucid way. She has a very personal vision regarding the end of life, but above all she feels we should get back to a more natural way of dealing with it, something that is anything but obvious in our society.
      With her still considerable vitality, she organizes the last months of her life - which sometimes leads to hilarious situations - and is always a few steps ahead of the others. She wishes to die serenely, in a state of total acceptance. Nevertheless, she will find out that life, even the last months, will not simply bend to her will. It has yet more severe trials in store for her.
      ‘"Epilogue" is a documentary that gives a unique sight into the final months of Neel and her family. It is a universal fact that we approach with great empathy, but without ever being sentimental. This film reveals that which is often tenaciously hidden and reconnects us with life.