Documentary turns lens on terminal patients, their final moments

A letter written by Xu Lieying, a 35-year-old woman from Fujian province who died of liver cancer, expressed the deep love to her second, newly-born child. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Producers of the upcoming documentary Once Upon a Life -- a tear-jerker that follows two cancer patients on their final days -- announced they would donate all profit earned from the movie's advanced screening to China Charities Aid Foundation For Children.

The movie, which will be released across domestic theaters on March 4, is a follow-up of the highly applauded TV documentary with the same title. The first season was broadcast in 2016 and second season in 2019. There was also a 40-minute short film screened in 2020.

A scene in the documentary features that Wang Sirong, a 14-year-old patient of bone cancer, shares a joyful moment to watch fireworks with her mother. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Continuing the franchise, the 92-minute film turns its lens on people fighting severe illnesses and their final moments. Two patients were featured: a 35-year-old mother who died of liver cancer in 2018, and a 14-year-old girl who passed away from bone cancer on the same year.

Tao Tao, one of the four directors, said they chose the two patients and their families because they showed courage to face the trauma and suffering brought on by the diseases.

Poster of the upcoming documentary film Once Upon a Life. [Photo provided to China Daily]

"What we want to tell the most to the audience is that people could also obtain a lot of love and re-examine their relationship with their family members while they are in the face of death. It will give them the strength to live more optimistically," added Tao.

After the advanced screening concluded in a downtown cinema in Beijing on March 4, its producers formalized with the China Charities Aid Foundation For Children their commitment to donate gross profit from the box office (after deducting the budget and other fees such as marketing cost) to the foundation. The money will go to support charity films for teenagers and children.

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