Friday, April 24, 2015

Sasktel MaxTV Film on Dialysis, Murals and Memoir

Sasktel Max TV mandates a steady stream of locally-produced short films that feature various characters from all walks of life including, of course, artists and authors. Last month the film crew from Bamboo Shoots created a ten-minute short film that features yours truly.

It was a really interesting experience to work with the professional producer and videographer from Saskatoon-based firm Bamboo Shoots. They were very open to my suggestions about locations and even themes throughout the process. Once I had a chance to think about, I suggested three ideas: 1)  we shoot some footage at my studio, while flipping through a broad selection of some of my favorite easel paintings, 2)  we conduct an interview and book reading from my dialysis unit in Saskatoon, and 3) we spend some quality time at Sacred Heart Chaldean Catholic Church (again in convenient!) to feature my most ambitious mural EVER.

I am very grateful to the folks at Bamboo Shoots who were so diligent in their unflagging pursuit of the truth, no matter how challenging and difficult it must have been to unwrap. It could not have been easy for them to witness the trial of dialysis. I've heard it described by the uninitiated as "gory", but let me assure you as a person whose life depends on this thrice-weekly blood-cleaning therapy, that it is my reality.

Gory or not, is for you to decide, dear reader. Let me remind you that millions of people worldwide are sustained by some form of dialysis on a daily basis as they await the "Gift of Life", aka a living or deceased kidney donor. That is, the vast majority of dialysis patients are anxiously awaiting their chance of a better, healthier life with a kidney transplant. In some cases though, this modern technological marvel fails to manifest in a timely fashion for whatever reason and the potential recipient, being sustained (sometimes precariously) on dialysis succumbs to the ravages of kidney failure.

There are certainly no solid guarantees for any of us on the quest for the "Gift of Life". All we can all hope and pray for is a  kidney transplant, executed expeditiously, or else we must languish on the dialysis unit. While this is often a viable option and a way to hopefully buy time, it must be said that a dialysis-dependent life is no fucking picnic.

It was with all of this in mind that I set out to create this Sasktel MaxTV short film. You might say I have a certain sense of dire urgency with this project and life in general. When I read the grim statistics about how many dialysis warriors perish (for whatever reason) while awaiting the intervention of a kidney transplant. 

You may recall that I received a kidney transplant on October 17th, 1979, thanks to the courageous and loving sacrifice of my brother Steven, who donated one of his kidneys to save my life as a 20-year old. His gift allowed me to thrive and prosper for over 34 years. In mid-May of 2014 I was obliged to return once again to the life of a dialysis patient.

So now, everything comes around full-circle, as I stare down the reality of kidney failure. I have to shore up my courage and determination to carry on with a smile and a twinkle in my eye as I once again embark on that quest for the "Gift of Life". A huge part of this "cup half-full" attitude derives from the fact that Book 1 of the "Dancing..." trilogy is about to be launched in the next short while. This writing project has sustained me over the past several years, I think because I am gambling that it will ultimately ensure some small measure of "immortality". After my early brush with death, the idea of immortality coupled in a slow dance with obscurity has haunted my thoughts.

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