Zeuf, a top athlete and breast cancer survivor, was the subject of director Charlotte LaGarde’s first documentary. In 2013, when Zeuf learned that her cancer had returned and metastasized to her head and liver, she invited LaGarde to return to Santa Cruz to film her.
LaGarde, ambivalent about spending Zeuf’s remaining time behind a camera, did film many of their conversations. They swam, paddled and cooked together. When LaGarde could not bring herself to film, Zeuf turned the camera on LaGarde and asked why. LaGarde told me that while Zeuf was comfortable about being filmed and was at peace with dying, LaGarde was not. She said she realized that what Zeuf was offering was an opportunity to embrace the complexity of the experience. LaGarde says this changed the way she thinks about dying. It also changed the way she films.
After Zeuf passed away, LaGarde’s film turned inward, organically moving into a first-person narrative, much to the director’s surprise. She thought Zeuf + 20 would be about their shared experience of mortality. But LaGarde is, in a sense, starting over. Zeuf + 20 will be a film about a friendship and about going through the experience of loss. But LaGarde says the documentary will primarily be about being the one left to explore what happens next. The director will work through acquiring a more holistic and positive experience of death. “I want to share this story because I know that I’m not alone. There have been many documentaries about death and dying, but few about grieving. How does one get used to the constant presence of absence?”
Director Charlotte LaGarde’s film is in production.
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