Eva Markvoort opens her heart in 65_RedRoses

Eva Markvoort’s har­row­ing story of sur­vival adds heart and soul to the fes­ti­val By NOR­MAN WILNER

NOW Magazine - Hot Docs - - Front Page -

NNNNN a good thing.

“I’m in the mid­dle of San Diego,” she says ex­cit­edly over her cell­phone, “sit­ting on the top bunk in a hos­tel. I haven’t been able to take a va­ca­tion for a very, very long time, be­ing so sick. When you’re on the trans­plant list, you can’t leave the city. And then there’s the re­cov­ery process.”

Markvoort’s med­i­cal or­deal is doc­u­mented – of­ten in ex­cru­ci­at­ing de­tail – in 65_RedRoses. Van­cou­ver-based di­rec­tors Philip Lyall and Nimisha Muk­erji spent more than a year track­ing her path to a life-sav­ing dou­ble lung trans­plant.

What dis­tin­guishes this doc­u­men­tary from ev­ery other med­i­cal study is its wrench­ing in­ti­macy. Lyall and Markvoort have known each other for years, and as a re­sult the film­mak­ers were al­lowed to be present at mo­ments when any­one else would have surely been pushed out of the room.

“Once she gives her­self, she’ll give ev­ery­thing,” Lyall says from his Van­cou­ver home. “She let us be any­where, watch her any­where. She knew that mak­ing this film, we’d have to shoot the hard mo­ments in her life – if we cen­sor it, if we don’t get those re­ally dark mo­ments, then, you know, I don’t think you get that pay­off. You won’t show the view­ers what she’s re­ally go­ing through. She un­der­stood that.”

Iso­lated in her hos­pi­tal room – cys­tic fi­bro­sis pa­tients aren’t al­lowed to spend time to­gether, for fear of shar­ing in­fec­tions – Markvoort found dis­trac­tion and com­fort on­line, chat­ting with other young women living with the con­di­tion. (The film takes its ti­tle from Markvoort’s screen name, a play on her child­hood in­abil­ity to pro­nounce “cys­tic fi­bro­sis.”)

“I was never an In­ter­net per­son un­til I got re­ally sick,” she says. “When it came to the point of hav­ing to make de­ci­sions about my care that my doc­tors couldn’t re­ally an­swer, that’s what led me to find­ing all th­ese peo­ple on­line. My 55-year-old doc­tor can sit there and go, ‘ You need a feed­ing tube.’ Well, that’s great, but how’s the feed­ing tube go­ing to look in a bikini? They may not think about that, but I do. I’m still 22 years old, I’m still in­ter­ested in how the world sees me, as a young per­son, and that’s in­te­gral to who I am as a per­son.

“You can call it shal­low, or you can call it re­al­is­tic, but I had th­ese ques­tions that my doc­tors couldn’t an­swer: What does it feel like to have th­ese pro­ce­dures done? What long-term ef­fects do they have on your friend­ships, your fam­ily, your re­la­tion­ships, de­cid­ing to get a dou­ble lung trans­plant? That’s when I turned on­line and found th­ese peo­ple, and started read­ing their his­to­ries and their blogs. It opened up an en­tirely new world of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and peo­ple and ex­pe­ri­ence. I’m just so glad for it. And now it’s an im­por­tant part of my life.”

Lyall and Muk­erji wound up in­clud­ing two of her on­line friends, Meg Moore and Kina Boyce, in their doc­u­men­tary.

“Th­ese girls are very in­tel­li­gent,” Lyall says, “and they wanted to tell their sto­ries. It was harder with Meg, be­cause of her drug prob­lems and her fam­ily sit­u­a­tion and all that, but lit­er­ally we just showed up at their door and started shoot­ing, and they let us fol­low them.”

Markvoort was only 23 when they started film­ing, and her lungs were so badly dam­aged by CF that there was some ques­tion whether she’d sur­vive the pro­ce­dure – if she even lived



(Philip Lyall, Nimisha Muk­erji, Canada). 71 min­utes. May 7, 7:30 pm, Royal Cinema; re­peats May 9, 2 pm, Royal Cinema and May 10, 9:15 pm, Bloor Cinema. Rat­ing:

eva markvoort is breath­less, but that’s

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