Is it ever rational to choose death? Is it ever a good decision? For 77-year-old Bob Stern, there is little doubt. A successful businessman, husband, and father, an exemplar of the self-made generation that built post-war America, Bob believes that taking his own life in the face of serious, possibly terminal, illness is what an all-American hero should do. So he sits down on Independence Day 2001, and videotapes his shocking proposal – for the benefit of his wife and son who sit just off-camera, and for his two absent daughters. In his video, Bob expresses a great deal of satisfaction at the fullness of his life so far; it soon becomes clear that control – or, rather, the prospect of losing it – is at the crux of his decision. Directed by Bob’s daughter Susan Stern (Barbie Nation), The Self-Made Manintercuts this videotaped footage of an apparently lucid, successful man contemplating suicide with his family’s memories of a life lived large right to the end. Ultimately, the film is a poignant, thought-provoking and personal exploration of whether one has the “right to die.” Colour, DVD. 64 mins.
Frames of Mind is a monthly film event utilizing film and video to promote professional and community education on issues pertaining to mental health and illness.
Post-screening discussion with Dr. Michael Myers, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, UBC, and the Director of the Marital Therapy Clinic at St. Paul’s Hospital. Dr. Myers is a specialist in physician health. His videotape When Physicians Commit Suicide: Reflections of Those They Leave Behind won the 1999 American Psychiatric Association Psychiatric Services Award. His most recent book, co-written with Carla Fine, is Touched by Suicide: Hope and Healing after Loss.
Moderated by Dr. Harry Karlinsky, Director of Continuing Medical Education and Professional Development, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia.
For more information, see the Pacific Cinémathèque Program Guide