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Canadian actress Babz Chula has been fighting cancer for a long, long time. Not knowing if she can take another round of chemotherapy, she convinces her friend (and the film’s director) to join her on a trip to India to be treated at an ayurvedic clinic. After six weeks of treatment, Babz seems transformed but returns home only to discover her cancer has spread and she only has weeks to live. Babz insists that Wheeler continue filming, if only to chronicle her last weeks, days and moments surrounded by her family.

Chi is a heartbreaking movie, but it is only heartbreaking because it is so real. The journey being taken by a deeply ill woman and her friend is the kind of intimate portrait of illness that we simply don’t get in North America. What’s more is that the way in which Babz chose to live her last days, surrounded by family and embracing the way in which she wanted to pass is nothing short of inspiring, even if the “happy” ending to this film isn’t that everyone lives happily ever after.

If you have ever been there for someone’s last breath, you know that not every passing is exactly as we would like it to be. North America deals so poorly with illness and death that we are closeted from exactly the kind of experience this film shows us. Chi shows us that not shutting down, not shutting off, can be the most healing experience of all.

This film is not easy to watch, but it should probably be watched by everyone. You will absolutely be transformed and healed by it.

Is Chi essential Hot Docs viewing?

Yes, this is absolutely essential Hot Docs viewing, but understand that you will leave sobbing, and somehow slightly lighter inside. This is also an NFB film, so if for any reason you cannot fit this into your festival schedule, you will still be able to access the film later. This is a film to be cherished.

Chi screening times

  • Saturday, April 27 at 8:00 pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox 3
  • Monday, April 29 11:00 am at the Isabel Bader Theatre
  • Saturday, May 4 1:00 pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

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