Presented by Hot Docs in collaboration with PAVED Arts
Featuring an Artist Q&A with Max Dean and PAVED Artistic Director David LaRiviere
Streaming starts February 13, 2023
30-day free trial available on “Hot Docs @ Home” to view this film + Q&A
Feature film, 2021. DIRECTOR: Katherine Knight PRODUCER: Site Media Inc., Katherine Knight, David Craig
Charismatic artist Max Dean’s desire to cinematically document his journey with prostate cancer takes on new meaning after his partner, Martha Fleury is diagnosed with aggressive ovarian cancer. His drive to express the emotional impact of cancer illuminates the core vulnerabilities of being human.
Known for The Robotic Chair that collapses and then reassembles itself, Max looks for new metaphors that illustrate the line crossed when cancer is diagnosed. Rescuing and ‘fixing’ a dozen discarded animatronic figures from a decommissioned amusement attraction provides Max with a ‘care team’ of silent helpers. Working in a large studio overflowing with tools and props, Max embarks on a series of creative experiments that highlight how art and medicine are historically intertwined. Through art, Max strives to visualize both the psychological and physical impact of a cancer tumour as it multiplies and grows, hoping to chart his own course towards healing. Through a cinematic dance of interviews, actuality and staged scenes, the film follows Max’s creative process as he creates a tumour, layered with the detritus of consumer culture and encapsulated in canvas only to chop it open in a dramatic conclusion.
Throughout the film, Max and Martha, alone and together, describe their medical and personal experiences as they face illness. The film follows Max’s shock at his initial diagnosis then recognition that Martha’s aggressive cancer is more serious. The stakes are high and to cope Max’s instinct is to follow what he knows best—art! Max makes the point that waiting is not stillness but an active time of creative enquiry and learning. Meanwhile, Martha asks that we recognize empathy and generosity of spirit even as her choices narrow.
As Max says, “It’s nothing new for me to fall apart and put myself back together.” Still Max is an immersive cinematic portrait of persistence and resilience that packs an emotional punch.
Streaming here starting February 13.