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Helping to break down taboos around death

Dr Steven Eastwood from Queen Mary University of London, has directed a bold new film which depicts the final moments of life.

14 September 2018


Filmed over 12 months at a hospice on the Isle of Wight, Island portrays the last days and hours of life of terminally ill people, including their moment of death.

The film was directed by Dr Steven Eastwood, Reader in Film Practice in Queen Mary’s Department of Film Studies, part of the School of Languages, Linguistics and Film. Island is Steven Eastwood’s second film and had its world premiere at the 61st BFI London Film Festival in 2017 and international premiere in at the Rotterdam Film Festival earlier this year.

Breaking down taboos

According to Dr Eastwood the film aims to break down taboos around death, viewing it very much as a part of life. The film follows four people, including one forty year old who had been diagnosed with cancer.

Dr Eastwood believes that hospices should be more visible in the community to remove the stigma around terminal illness and dying to make death more familiar and less frightening.

“Fifty years ago there weren’t many photographs or films of births, but now that’s understood as a celebration of our bodies,” said Steven Eastwood. “There’s lots of research that shows that being better informed about what happens to our bodies when we are dying can alleviate anxiety,” he added.

Q&A screenings nationwide

As part of its cinema release on 14 September, Dr Steven Eastwood is travelling nationwide for special Q&A screenings where audiences are invited to discuss the themes of death, dying and end of life care seen in the film. 

Steven and his team have also partnered with the Sussex NHS trust where Island is being used to help medical staff handle end of life care.

Further information

Visit the film website for more information about Island and forthcoming screenings.

Read more about Queen Mary’s School of Linguistics, Languages and Film.

Find out more about Film Studies at Queen Mary.

For media information, contact:

Paul Jordan
Faculty Communications Manager (HSS)
email: p.jordan@qmul.ac.uk