Home Art Ondi Timoner Chronicles Her Father’s Quest for Dignified Dying 

Ondi Timoner Chronicles Her Father’s Quest for Dignified Dying 


Ondi Timoner’s Sundance-debuting Final Flight Dwelling is each a celebratory tribute to, and an incredibly intimate portrait of, a hardworking enterprise and household man, whom adversity rendered a mensch. Certainly, the nonagenarian entrepreneur on the coronary heart of this vérité doc — a Miami native who based Air Florida, the fastest-growing airline on this planet in the course of the Nineteen Seventies — was dwelling an idyllic life till a neck cracking by a masseuse left the colourful extrovert partially paralyzed on the age of 53. To compound the tragedy, this freak accident occurred earlier than the 1990 passage of the People with Disabilities Act, thus permitting the upstart air provider to legally pressure out the person chargeable for constructing it.

Nonetheless, with Sunshine State optimism, grit, and drive — and the love and help of an adoring household, together with a filmmaker daughter named Ondi — Eli Timoner managed to create a joyful, unbiased, and dignified life for himself. Which is why he finally determined to finish that life, on his personal phrases.

Not like Timoner’s prior work documenting Sort A males (as an illustration, 2015’s Model: A Second Coming, 2018’s Mapplethorpe), Final Flight Dwelling was not initially meant for out of doors eyes. The result’s an oftentimes uncomfortably voyeuristic expertise — home-movie private and emotionally brutal. The director herself has described the doc as “borne of desperation,” primarily a method to seize the essence of her father’s life by filming the countdown to his closing day on earth. And on this sense Final Flight Dwelling serves extra as a most uncommon guidebook: a warts-and-all, 14-day account finest considered by the terminally ailing and their family members, particularly in the event that they’re fortunate sufficient to dwell in a state like California, which in 2016 handed the Finish of Life Possibility Act, requiring just a few hoops and a 15-day ready interval to acquire a dying with dignity. At its core, Final Flight Dwelling is a cinematic “What to Anticipate When You’re Anticipating” for this explicit form of dying.

Ondi Timoner and Eli Timoner in a scene From Final Flight Dwelling, directed by Ondi Timoner, 2022

Which results in the thornier facet of this noble enterprise — particularly that every particular person dying is as completely different as every beginning; Eli’s ending can’t be thought of in any method “typical.” This isn’t a quibble with the movie itself, which is painstakingly (and painfully) true to the Timoner household’s narrative, however with the dearth of any counter-narrative accessible to the broader public. As a result of there are so few true-to-life documentaries in regards to the nuts and bolts of assisted dying, audiences might find yourself taking the Timoner expertise because the norm — proper up till the fraught second when viewers notice that holding a glass on his personal and consuming the medication in lower than two minutes could be a requirement the incapacitated man can now not fulfill. It’s not the filmmaker’s accountability to current “all sides”; as a substitute, the movie factors up the failure of movie and different media to painting the extensive spectrum of dying. The doc dangers being acquired as some type of definitive handbook for households going by means of, or contemplating, the euthanasia route.

Watching the movie I questioned how one can reconcile Eli’s bumpy touchdown with, say, my retired hospice director mother’s expertise of the “best and most stunning dying” she’d ever witnessed? Eli may need waited too lengthy to decide on assisted dying. In distinction, my mom’s nonagenarian pal was ready not solely to simply convey a cup to his lips, however to savor and rejoice these final minutes together with his household, relaxed and with out worry, earlier than passing away shortly and painlessly. Ultimately there are not any straightforward solutions in fact, and but one factor stays crystal clear: a dignified life deserves a dignified dying. And which will take myriad varieties.

Clockwise from high left: Lisa Timoner, Eli Timoner, Rachel Timoner, Ondi Timoner, and David Timoner in an archival picture taken at Boeing HQ in Seattle on October 30, 1979. From Final Flight Dwelling, directed by Ondi Timoner, 2022

Final Flight Dwelling is offered to stream on Paramount Plus and different streaming companies.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here