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A LION IN THE HOUSE
UK: ICA Cinema / Britdoc
Cast: Justin Ashcraft, Adam Ashcraft, Dale Ashcraft, Debbie Ashcraft, Jennifer Roller, Dr Robert Arceci, Dr Victor Balaso, Dr Cyndi DeLaat, Dr Malini Gillen, Dr Fred Huang, Dr Paul Jublinsky, Connie Coons, Alex Lougheed, Jackie Lougheed, Judy Lougheed, Scott Lougheed, Claire Mazewski, Beth Moone, Frank Moone, Jen Moone, Linda Pollman, Marietha Woods, Ted Zwerdling
Directors: Steven Bognar, Julia Recihert
UK: 225 mins
UK Release Date: 28 July 2006 (Limited Release - London, ICA)
In the late 1990s, the chief oncologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital contacted award-winning documentary filmmakers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert and invited them to follow five children and their families navigating the ups and downs of cancer treatment.
The result is A LION IN THE HOUSE, a deeply compassionate, moving story of hope, love and resilience, filmed over a 6-year period. The strength of this extraordinary documentary rests in the fact that, while providing a comprehensive view of life on an oncology ward, including profiles of the doctors, nurses and staff who become champions for the children the care for, the film also ventures outside the hospital and explores the unique personal life of each child - his or her hopes, fears and relationships with siblings and other family members. As a result, a complex portrait of each family's individual journey emerges.
A LION IN THE HOUSE raises complex and difficult issues. While one family grapples with searing questions about when to stop fighting the disease, another faces the dilemma of how to feel 'normal' again when treatment succeeds, but fear still lurks in the background. Technologically advanced medicine creates ethical dilemmas, and disparities in diagnosis, support services and outcomes emerge, apparently linked to socioeconomic status and other factors that have little to do with the disease. Challenging questions are asked - such as the effect of late diagnosis on outcomes; how many experimental treatments a child should face; why one parent can be a full-time caregiver to her child while another struggles to hold onto a job with medical benefits; and what constitutes the difference between 'giving up' and 'letting go.'
Both harrowing and uplifting, A LION IN THE HOUSE chronicles how families respond to crisis, how relationships are put to the test, how courage is found in unlikely places and how humour and the energy of youth are powerful medicine.