The last dance

Issue 

The last dance

The Last Supper
Canada, 1994
Directed by Cynthia Roberts
Starring Ken McDougall
Reviewed by Jennifer Thompson

The Last Supper promises to be one of the highlights of the 1995 Mardi Gras Film Festival. It takes the viewer on an emotional journey as it chronicles the last day of life for Chris (Ken McDougall), a celebrated dancer dying of AIDS, now in pain and bedridden.

The use of real time by the director, along with sound and the single setting of the bedroom, identifies us with the agony of the sufferer, but also his fight for dignity as he chooses and choreographs his own death with the assistance of a doctor.

Chris' world has shrunk to his own darkened bedroom, but that doesn't stop him and his lover Val (Jack Nicholsen) from reliving some of their best times together. Chris' final dance for Val and the assisting doctor depicts the journey he anticipates from life into death, touching them and the viewer, as does the meticulously planned farewell of his death.

The film is an adaptation from a play by Hillar Liitoja, performed by the same actors. Cynthia Roberts' plan was complicated by the discovery that Ken McDougall was dying of AIDS. McDougall found the necessary energy to give an extraordinary performance, shot in the Toronto hospice, Casey House. McDougall died four days after the shoot.

The film will be shown in two sessions during the festival which is taking place in the Academy Twin Cinema in Paddington. The first screening is at 9.30pm on Friday, February 25. The second screening, at 1.30pm the following day, will be preceded by a forum at noon on euthanasia, sponsored by People Living With HIV/AIDS (NSW), the AIDS Council of NSW and Queer Screen, the festival organisers. Tickets can be arranged by contacting Queer Screen on (02) 332 4938.

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