ABOUT THE DOCUMENTARY:
Zenith Virago is an activist and educator who for over 20 years has been leading Australia towards a more communal, celebratory, and creative engagement with death and dying. From her origins as a young mother in the UK, to her present day identity as a lesbian, feminist, and self-described deathwalker in the idyllic seaside town of Byron Bay Zenith’s personal and professional experiences quietly challenge our core assumptions about life and dissolve our taboos around death. More information on the film and the growing natural death care movement it models can be found at: http://zenandtheartofdying.com/
ABOUT BRODERICK FOX:
Fox’s award-winning narrative, experimental, and documentary works present challenging, socially relevant issues through accessible, character-driven storytelling and have screened in over 50 international festivals. Fox’s last feature documentary The Skin I’m In (2012) had its world premiere at the Byron Bay International Film Festival in Australia, where he met Zenith Virago. She was an audience member who approached him after the screening, and their shared sensibilities and interests precipitated an immediate connection. Also a media scholar and professor, Fox had been thinking and writing critically about digital media production as a means of illness or injury-related pain management, bereavement, and empowerment in end-of-life decision making. The chance to document Virago’s work as both a queer woman and a deathwalker felt like a natural, exciting, and passionate next step in his filmmaking. The production crew for Zen & the Art of Dying consisted only of Fox as cinematographer/director and his husband Lee Biolos as sound recordist/producer. With this small footprint, they embedded with Zenith for 5 weeks during which she and the community of Byron Bay offered up access to some of their most intimate and vulnerable moments ‘doing death differently.’ Fox was one of 12 California artists awarded a 2014 Artistic Innovation Grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation in support of Zen & the Art of Dying. He is an Associate Professor of Media Arts & Culture at Occidental College in Los Angeles, where he teaches courses in both theory and production. His book, Documentary Media: History – Theory – Practice is out now through Focal Press.
Check out Terence O'Toole's Harvardwood interview with Fox: