A woman suffering an extreme genetic disorder argues for her right to choose when and how she dies.
Gina is a powerful and emotive documentary about the circumstances that one woman lives with everyday. A cruel genetic illness has left Gina bed-bound for years; sound and light cause her body further damage, and she is unable to talk. Through the film, Gina expresses her belief that she should have the right to choose if, and when, and how she might die.
Director Wendell Cooke
Wendell Cooke is a Wellington-based writer, producer and director with degrees in Chinese language and management, and an MA in screenwriting from Victoria University (2009). Wendell was a Script-to-Screen/Show Me Shorts Film Lab participant in 2012, and has completed two shorts films, Maul and Loner, which have screened at a variety of festivals, including the Melbourne and New Zealand International Film Festivals, Show Me Shorts, Wairoa Maori Film Festival, and Hof International Film Festival (Germany).
Producer Jeremy Macey
Jeremy Macey studied Russian and German at Victoria University, and worked in theatre, short films and TVCs. From 1997 to 2001 he worked in Moscow in advertising, documentary and feature filmmaking. He produced and directed the documentary Shpilt Mir (Play For Me) about the revival of klezmer in the former Soviet Union, followed by a documentary about Russian immigrants in Christchurch and Highnote, covering the National Youth Choir tour to East Europe and Russia. Jeremy worked in development at the NZ Film Commission before returning to the industry as producer of the feature Hook, Line and Sinker (2011), and short films including I’m Going to Mum’s (Berlinale 2013).
Our motivation was to make a film that opened people’s eyes to a movement in New Zealand that provides terminally ill and elderly people with information about end-of-life choice. We wanted to highlight the current gap in the law for people who may want to consider ending their lives because of illness, and the impact that this gap has on everyday people. We spent a lot of time talking to members of Exit International and the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand. We ended up filming two interviews with Exit members, after which we discovered that the three-minute format of Loading Docs and our complex subject matter did not coexist happily together! During this time, we were becoming aware of a woman with an extreme condition who, although she didn’t want to appear on camera, offered the most compelling argument for why people should be allowed the choice of assisted dying if their everyday circumstances constitute cruel and unusual suffering. We continued to communicate with Gina by email via her sister, who would dictate Gina’s responses to our questions. Through these exchanges we built up a picture of Gina’s situation and position that she, and only she, should have the right to choose whether or not she goes on living. We felt that if we could just communicate this to an audience it would go right to the heart of why there needs to be a law change in New Zealand.
We’ve found our experience of Loading Docs to be extremely positive. Participating in the scheme has pushed us to really think about what we want to express, who our likely audience is, and to be really creative in how we put our message across.