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Death: A Love Story
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SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 1999; Official Selection Documentary Competition

SANTA BARBARA FILM FESTIVAL 1999; Insight Award for Best Documentary


SAN FRANCISCO FILM FESTIVAL 1999; Golden Gate Certificate of Merit


BIG BEAR FILM FESTIVAL 2000; Best Documentary


"... an eye-opening, sobering encounter with modern medicine and remarkable evidence of filmmaking playing a part in the healing process." -- David Hunter, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

"Unflinching yet poetic!" -- Kevin Thomas, LOS ANGELES TIMES

"This film is as important as it is unique... all of us should watch it and learn from it." -- Douglas Tyler, MD, Diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine

"Death in narrative film is often mawkishly rendered, but here, death is truly a  love story." -- Thomas White and Cara Mertes, INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY

"Compelling! Insightful! Ultimately reassuring look at facing death with grace and inner peace." -- Glenn Lowell, VARIETY

" …a noble, heartfelt documentary" -- Rene Graham, BOSTON GLOBE


Death A Love Story is a timely documentary that looks into the gift that death offers when we are able to put our fears, confusions and denial aside and simply sit and listen to our loved ones as they pass. It confronts our fears of the greatest unknown and reveals the moment to moment grace possible in living a life. It is the intimate and colorful journey through the last year of the life of Mel Howard, Hollywood producer and actor, former Head of NYU's Graduate Film School, Founding Associate Director of The American Film Institute and Chairman of Boston University's School of Broadcasting and Film.

Mel and Michelle's journey, with its search for dignity and grace, is contrasted with the world of medicine both traditional and alternative. Underlying the cinema verite glimpses of frustrations and chaos, is the palpable growth of their faith in life and love.

In the end, Mel shares his death and discoveries about life with the most extraordinary clarity and wisdom. This final segment of the film is unique in its treatment of death. Michelle audio-taped their final conversation together, which is put to poetic imagery illustrative of the transcendent nature of this exchange.

Profoundly uplifting and thought-provoking, Death: A Love Story portraits the rite of passage we all must one day face. In all its irony, power and poetry, it shows us that life's greatest gifts can sometimes be found in the seed of death.

Testimonials & Audience Reactions:

Bruce Rubin, writer, producer, and director: Ghost, My life
"Thank you for making this extraordinary work!"

Douglas Tyler, MD, Diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine
"This film is as important as it is unique. The filmmaker has created a painstakingly objective birdseye view of the dying process as it slowly overcomes the most important person in her life "All of us should watch it and learn from it."

Jacob Karula MD, Professor of Clinical Medicine, USC
"Thank you for sending me the video of Death A Love Story. I found this a beautiful way of expressing Mel's passage from life to death. I shall share this video with our staff."

Jeremy Kagan, director, writer, producer, Former Artistic Director Sundance Institute, Head of Directing Program, USC
"Over the years of his (Mel's) illness, his wife, Michelle Le Brun and he recorded hundreds of hours of their confrontations with disease, the medical profession, themselves and mortality. It is this struggle to deal with death that makes this film valuable, for it is a struggle we all must face."

Gangaji, Spiritual Leader
"In our society, in western culture as a whole, death is generally kept out of sight, ignored, or made impersonal, either as statistics or as the gore of sensationalism. This attempt at avoidance results in a level of superficiality that is penetrated only when one is faced with one's own death or the death of a loved one. Entertainment that is also art involves the viewer inescapably in the mystery of life and death. Death: A Love Story is entertainment that is also art."

Audience Member
"Your piece moved me in a deep, profound way. It's hard to write about sometimes, because these words are said all too often. But from the bottom of my heart. I was changed forever in a deep way when I left that theater. Mel and you gave me one of the greatest gifts of waking me up to my life."

Audience Member
"When I was getting my BFA from Boston University, I struggled with finding a definition for "art". I came to the conclusion that art is something that is created with love, moves me emotionally, and stays with me long after seeing it. Your film is an articulate, beautiful, intelligent, witty, and profound work of art."

Audience Member
"This documentary was a live-expanding and life-changing experience for me and I am eternally grateful for the gift you and Mel have bestowed upon so many of us."

Audience Member
"Your movie is really important in that it not only addresses death but shows the wonder, amazement and life that can come out of having to deal with it."



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Who's Who

Harken Productions
E-Mail: Michelle@HarkenProds.com
Phone: 401 477-4630