On Sunday, The Grand Cinema in Tacoma will be one of the first venues showing the Oscar-nominated documentary about former Gov. Booth Gardner's campaign to pass the state's Death with Dignity Act.
‘The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner’ was one of five Academy Award nominees in the short documentary category this year. The 38-minute film follows Gardner as he struggles with Parkinson’s disease and documents his battle to pass the physician-assisted suicide law in 2008.
Though the film was shown in 2009 to qualify for the Oscars, it has yet to be officially released. Sunday’s local audience will be among the first in the nation to see it, said Philip Cowan, Grand Cinema’s executive director. It will be shown the day before at the Seattle International Film Festival.
During a March interview with The News Tribune, Gardner said he’s “glad that people are getting a refresher course” in the right-to-die movement that drew his passion and much of his energy two years ago.
The law does not benefit Gardner, who was Pierce County’s first executive in the 1980s and a popular governor who defeated incumbent John Spellman in 1984. There is no time clock on death from Parkinson’s, and the act requires a patient to have six months or less to live to be eligible.
Still, the disease chews at his central nervous system, robbing his motor functions, making it difficult to walk and slowing and slurring his speech. Eventually, he says in the documentary, the illness steals a person’s ability to eat, leaving them to starve.
“It’s not a pretty picture,” he tells the cameras.
Director Daniel Junge of Denver said that at the film’s core “was this intimate story of this incredibly popular governor of Washington, fighting his own mortality.”
Following the screening, a discussion with the filmmakers will be held in the theater.
Craig Sailor: 253-597-8438, firstname.lastname@example.org