Three years ago Neel was diagnosed with gastric and oesophageal cancer. Since then, she has received almost continuous treatment. Neel has now stopped her cancer treatment, and yet paradoxically she feels in good shape, much fitter than she has felt over the last three years since being diagnosed.
However, Neel knows the cancer cells in her body will grow again. Within a few months, maybe half a year, they will have become so prevalent that it will be impossible for her to function anymore. Her husband Mark (57) and children Sanne (28), Wannes (26) and Judith (17) try to enjoy her 'improved' health for as long as they possibly can. ‘Enjoy’ means to do as many things together as possible and to gather some last memories, as Sanne puts it.
Neel, a strong and committed woman, had always been at the centre of her family, but because of her illness and frequent treatments, she was no longer able to fulfil that role. Everyone suddenly had to look after himself now. 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, starting her own family. Neel’s situation had quite the opposite effect on her son Wannes, who completely withdrew from his social life. As for Judith, she was forced to grow up too fast.
We follow them throughout the last months of Neel’s life and show how they cope with this difficult and confronting situation. Each of them highly involved, they all look individually for ways to channel their own emotions.
Neel, the main subject of this documentary, is an extraordinary woman who deals with 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 feels that we should get back to a more natural way of approaching this notion of death, something that is anything but obvious in our society of today.
"Epilogue" is a documentary that offers a unique insight into the final months of Neel and the unit that is her family. It concerns a universal process that we approach with great empathy, without ever wanting to be sentimental. This film reveals that which is often forcibly hidden and ultimately reconnects us with life itself.
Director: Manno Lanssens, Producer: Ellen De Waele, Co-producers: Wilfried Van Baelen, Guy Van Baelen, Director of Photography: Johan Legraie, Bram De Waele, Michel Baudour, Sound Recording: Gregory Lannoy, Charles Hennuyez, Matthieu Roche, Sarah Gouret, Editing: Jan De Coster, Sound Design: Gilles Laurent, Sound Mix: David Davidster, Music: Guy Van Nueten
Visions du Réel Nyon - Special Mention of the Jury
World Film Festival Montréal
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