Local Film Review: However Long
Director: Jenny Mackenzie
Jenny Mackenzie Films
Next Screening: 11.07 at the Jim Santy Auditorium
The Emmy Award–winning documentary filmmaker Dr. Jenny Mackenzie has created a litany of acclaimed documentaries, including a director credit for 2018’s Quiet Heroes. Mackenzie’s latest documentary, However Long, depicts four women with stage four breast cancer, their families, and their support group suffering together. Over forty thousand women are expected to die this year from stage four breast cancer, alone. Therefore, Mackenzie goes beyond sharing these four women’s stories by advocating for more cancer research. Her film inspired tears and echoing sniffles throughout the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center’s theatre during its first Salt Lake screening; there were no dry eyes after witnessing these women’s pure courage.
However Long takes place at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, where social worker Lisa Gauchay and Dr. Saundra S. Buys organize a support group for women with terminal, stage four cancer. Mackenzie’s film follows Lisa Church, Patty Patton, Dr. Barbra Chatfield and Amanda Peterson’s ill-fated battle with metastatic breast cancer. Their disease consistently challenges their attempts to enjoy the time they have left. Each of these women grieves and struggles with their diagnoses in their own, unique ways. However, all of their experiences emphasize the necessity of living in the present.
In spite of this impending death, Church continues to cultivate her garden, Patton maintains her hairdressing job, Peterson cherishes time with her children and, from her diagnosis, Chatfield strives for a deeper understanding of what being a medical professional means. However, these women’s strength in juggling making the most out of their time left and preparing for their future passing reveals the desperation to live life to the fullest extent. Church travels and bikes with her life-long friend and partner Elaine and strategize their steps moving forward. Patton offers unconditional love to her Dachshunds and prepares for her approaching end with her daughter Maddy. Chatfield makes time for family trips and relishes seeing her children grow up. Finally, Peterson writes her obituary, plans her future celebration of life while openly discussing her condition with her loved ones.
Cancer demands that these women focus on the present, and consequently draws out their most authentic selves. However Long’s raw glance into these women’s lives and the connections made in their support group steals your heart, crushes it into the ground and then pieces it back together bit by bit, ultimately demonstrating how precious life is. –Nia Shaunce Morton