How to Die in Oregon is a documentary which explores real life responses to Oregon’s “Death with Dignity Act,” the first law in the U.S. to allow physicians to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to the terminally ill.
In 1994, Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Since then, more than 500 Oregonians have taken their mortality into their own hands. In How to Die in Oregon, filmmaker Peter Richardson gently enters the lives of real life terminally ill people of Oregon as they consider whether – and when – to end their lives by lethal overdose. A middle-aged woman with terminal liver cancer, prepares to take her own life, while another cancer patient decides to suffer through his illness even though death is just as certain for him. Others grapple with choosing their own course of action, and one man decides to hold a “death party.”
How to Die in Oregon examines both sides of this complex, emotionally charged issue. Richardson features interviews with journalists, lawyers and physicians as they talk about the efforts to legalize physician-assisted suicide. What emerges is a complex, poignant, and deeply moving portrait of what it means to die at the time and circumstance of one’s choosing.
Winner of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Award.