Seven Songs for a Long Life


Amy Hardie
University of Edinburgh


Portfolio, Practice Based, film, documentary, health care, pallitative care


Seven Songs for a Long Life is a documentary film that resulted from an interdisciplinary creative collaboration between the documentary film-maker Amy Hardie, medical and health care professionals and patients at the end of life. When the research project began in 2011, the UK health system was based on a medical model emphasising a disease-led approach to care. Challenging this model, and working with patients, families and staff, Hardie explored documentary interventions in palliative care in Strathcarron hospice in Scotland. Hardie worked with 15 families to make films in an iterative process that included reflective listening and screenings. These films were, variously: legacies, made for those facing bereavement; portraits taking stock of patient life stories; play spaces, expressing parts of themselves that get submerged in the problem-solving ethos of dealing with illness; and unspoken observations where families used the camera to communicate emotions hard to express in words. Between 2013 and 2018, demand by UK palliative care policy makers grew for these short films which screened, for instance, to an audience of 2,500 at ‘Building Bridges’ conference in London, at ‘Changing Capacities’ in Liverpool, and ‘World Congress of European association of Palliative Care’ in Prague. The participation of patients and staff continued as Hardie directed the final feature documentary, (supported by UK and international funding of £302k), and designed post-screening workshops. These deepened audience engagement with the themes of the film, i.e. values at end of life, capacity of carers, and fear of mortality, developing into seminars for health professionals and NHS policy makers. The cinema feature premiered in October 2015 in Scotland, and was then bought by 8 countries and distributed by Argot Pictures and Cargo in the USA.

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30 May 2024


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Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.