Beginning With The End, directed by David B. Marshall
Silicon Valley, directed by Mike Judge
A Night in Old Mexico, directed by Emilio Aragón
Cesar Chavez, directed by Diego Luna
Surely a candidate for most unlikely feel-good documentary of the year, David B. Marshall's Beginning with The End follows a group of high school students who volunteer as hospice workers. Marshall shadowed two classes over a period of two years, taking months to build relationships so that hospice residents (and their families) might feel comfortable letting him turn on the camera during some of the most intimate moments a person can experience.
Marshall, who sat down with me for an interview at SXSW, called the student volunteers "all kind of brilliant," and justly praised teacher Bob Kane for organizing a class that "taught kids a bunch of skills involving physical touch" to help them overcome the fear of interacting with the dying while creating a space where they could expose and process emotion and experiences that our youth-based culture tries its best to repress.
Teens today are one of the most stereotyped demographics, too often thought of as shallow, disconnected, cynical, and materialistic. Nearly every senior at Kane's school elected to take the hospice class; it was not a required course. Marshall said bluntly, "The kids want it."
Why? Perhaps a scene in which a boy raised Baptist talks about caring for a dying Roman Catholic nun gives us a hint. When approaching another human first as a servant, ...