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
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