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Surviving Death

Surviving Death

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Grief is a subject often touched on by films, but never before has it been evoked in such a meaningful, heart-wrenching and exhaustive way as in the debut feature from acclaimed shorts directors Robert Machoian and Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck.

Forty Years from Yesterday is painstaking in its step-by-step examination of the process of dealing with the unexpected death of a loved one, focusing on Bruce (Bruce Graham), who awakens one morning to find that his loving wife of forty years has passed away in her sleep. From then on, a process unfolds that is familiar to anyone and everyone: how to deal with the body; how to arrange the funeral; how to manage with one’s personal relationship to God; how to move on.

The film’s gut-punch (and stop reading now if you care about spoilers): the actors are all portrayed by their real-life counterparts—in other words, the mortician is an actual mortician, the priest an actual priest, and, perhaps controversially, the family members are the actual family members of the director. This even includes the “deceased” mother, whose performance would, in an ideal world, earn her, well, and the whole cast, more awards than can be contained in the average trophy case.

By any account unique, and by all accounts amazing, Machoian and Ojeda-Beck have fashioned something guaranteed to touch even the most callous of hearts.

Mark Peranson

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