Peter Short’s story told in Fade to Black film
The documentary Fade to Black (1.5 hours) is centred around the personal story of Peter Short, the charismatic CEO of a major Australian company. Peter is diagnosed with terminal oesophageal cancer and learns that he has only months to live. After hearing about Melbourne-based physician, Dr Rodney Syme – who has admitted that he has helped many terminally ill people to end their lives – Peter was inspired to meet him. Peter was not only comforted by the idea of having control over the end of his life, but felt it was his right to choose it. After meeting with Dr Syme, Peter started raising awareness about the laws getting in the way of his freedom to choose, and joined forces with Dying with Dignity to campaign for voluntary assisted dying.
In addition to Peter’s journey, Fade to Black also provides a history and background to the issue of assisted dying, including the passing and subsequent reversal of VAD in the Northern Territory, as well as the legislation that exists in other countries. The movie features interviews with key players in the Australian debate, including Dr Rodney Syme, Andrew Denton and Dr Philip Nitschke, as well as politicians for change, Dr Richard Di Natale and Fiona Patten. Whilst presenting a balanced view of the issue (including footage of arguments mounted by the Christian opposition), ultimately the pro-choice view prevails.
According to Fade to Black’s filmmaker, Jeremy Ervine, (shown above with Peter Short just before his death in December 2014) the purpose of the documentary was to open up a conversation about dying and allow people to see the arguments for and against assisted dying legislation. It is the most successful crowdfunded Australian documentary, raising over $100,000. This sends a strong message to politicians that Australians care passionately about choice at end of life. With law reform now on the national agenda, the time is right for Fade to Black to be a powerful force for change.
For more information about upcomg screenings and to watch the trailer of Fade to Black: www.fadetoblackmovie.com.
or the Fade to Black Facebook page: www.facebook.com/fadetoblackdoco
On 14 September, Sarah Martin on The Wire released a short review of Fade to Black, which includes an interview with Jeremy Ervine and Elizabeth Short, the widow of Peter Short – click to listen to the audio (6.04 mins)
On 27 July, Studio 10 aired an excellent interview (7.55 mins) with Peter Short’s wife, Elizabeth, about the documentary Fade to Black and the personal experience of living with the camera crew 24/7 during 2014. Elizabeth also spoke candidly about Peter’s final days and why he did not end up using the Nembutal to end his own life. Click to listen.
On 21 July, Elizabeth Short spoke to Neil Mitchell on Melbourne’s Radio 3AW (8.40 min) about the current campaign for voluntary assisted dying across Australia, and specifically in Victoria. In an interview which 3AW entitled ‘“Just bloody well get off your bums and do it.” Widow’s message to the government’, Elizabeth encouraged people to get out and make their voices heard by politicians and also to go along and watch the Fade to Black movie.
Jeremy Ervine’s Fade to Black won an Impact Docs Award of Excellence. Impact Docs’ mission is to “support and promote filmmakers who are making a difference in the critical issues of our times through producing impactful documentaries and who are inspiring and entertaining audiences with their stories.” Click for details
Click for a detailed article about Peter Short and the making of this movie in The Good Weekend (SMH) 23 January 2015 ‘Final project: Peter Short’s campaign for change; When corporate high-flyer Peter Short became terminally ill, he focused not only on living a better life, but campaigning for greater choice at the end of it.’
Fade to Black premiered in Australian cinemas in August. It has been taken on a nationwide tour, with screenings an panel discussions in every capital city plus some regional towns. Fade to Black was also part of the official selection of films screening at the Byron Bay International Film Festival. The NSW Premier was held in Sydney on Thursday 3 August. After the screenings there was a panel discussion moderated by ABC Radio’s Tony Delroy with panellists: Jeremy Ervine – Fade to Black Producer; Elizabeth Short – widow of Peter Short; Dr Sarah Edelman – President of Dying with Dignity NSW; Shayne Higson – Vice-President of Dying with Dignity NSW and Linda Scott – City of Sydney Councillor and daughter of terminally ill man – see Labor councillor’s plea to NSW MPs
Screenings have also been held in Port Macquarie, Erina, South West Rocks, Mount Victoria, Sawtell and Ballina. NB: Sessions planned for Armidale, Campbelltown, Glendale, Hurstville, Murwillumbah, Newcastle, Wagga Wagga and Orange have been cancelled by the distributor due to ticket sales not meeting the required threshold by the required date.