Within weeks of our world premiere at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam in November, I AM BREATHING has both been called one of the best documentaries in 2012 and one of the films to watch in 2013.
The film finished IDFA as the audience's 8th-most favourite film (out of a staggering 300 films at the festival). It also remained the 4th-most watched film at the Docs For Sale market (out of more than 600 titles). Here's what people had to say about I AM BREATHING:
The Hollywood Reporter ranked it "among the year's most moving films" (full review here).
"As [Neil Platt] promises very early on, what we get is 'a tale of fun and laughs with a smattering of upset and devastation.' The former gives way to the latter only in the closing fifteen minutes or so, when the deterioration in Neil's condition results in his being relocated from his home to a hospice institution. His formidable powers of communication are by this stage ebbing away in a manner that nearly all viewers will find powerfully harrowing.
"Necessarily tough going, these sequences deliver what are in effect a series of knockout punches that leave us dazedly counting our blessings. But so firmly have Neil's particular wishes expressed - that he wants the film to promote awareness of MND and encourage fund-raising into the research of possible cures - that I Am Breathing never feels in any way intrusive or exploitative."
"Emma Davie and Morag McKinnon's main competition entry is an emotionally devastating portrait of Neil Platt, a terminal thirty-three-year-old man saying goodbye to his wife and infant son. Paralyzed by the swift onset of motor neuron disease, Platt is completely dependent on others to tend to him. He's decided that once he can no longer swallow or speak, his ventilator will be turned off. Until then, using voice recognition software, he blogs about his life as a way to leave something of himself behind for his one-year-old. A production of the Scottish Documentary Institute, co-produced by the always inventive Danish Documentary, the film is alternately heartbreaking and disarmingly sardonic."
"Emma Davie, who made the film with Morag McKinnon, made the audience aware that the family was attending the screening. The main protagonist, however, together with Neil, was not there, his name is Oscar, he is the little boy, who runs around his father, the film could have been entitled 'Letter to Oscar', which is what Neil is writing, a letter, added with a beautiful 'memory box' for his son to remember his father. Remember Humphrey Jennings 'Diary for Timothy'?
"Well, he – Oscar, must be 5-6 years old – now, has a film that is made for him and for a big audience, I am sure."
Basil Tsiokos posted on his influential blog:
"While Alan Berliner’s FIRST COUSIN ONCE REMOVED took home the Best Feature-Length prize, I found myself thinking about Emma Davie and Morag McKinnon’s entry the most of all the films in this competition. [...] Left paralyzed by motor neuron disease in his final months of life, and requiring the assistance of his wife and others, plus an ever-audible ventilator, Platt serves as the film’s narrator, revealing a man fully facing his mortality as he races against the degeneration of his body to make sense of his short life. Always candid, and sometimes surprisingly funny, Davie and McKinnon’s film is touching, but never maudlin."
IDFA Festival Director Ally Derks called I AM BREATHING
"an emotional and not sentimental diary about life and death. One of the best films at IDFA this year."
Comments on social media included:
"Best Indy film of the year! I AM BREATHING: The thin space between life and death." (@sduda702)
"Goodness we need something that STOPS this vile disease and we need it NOW!!!!!" (@DaninaRivers)
"@breathingfilm so beautiful and well done." (@daniellebeverly)
"At @artdocfest, audience was deeply tuned into the beat of the story, many people in the audience were crying." (@alexdrozdovsky)
"I thought this was one of the most beautifully directed films at IDFA." (Kim Hopkins on Facebook)
Feel free to add your own thoughts in comments below. Thanks!