Documentary, 14 min
Carla Jean Johnson accepts her fast and aggressive cancer diagnosis with clarity and grace while photographer Anna Kuperberg, her long time wife, documents their final days and weeks together.
without dramatizing the situation nor glorifying her life, this film offers a calm and loving insight into Carla’s death,,,
“This window needs a lot of love in order to extend its life” says Carla Jean Johnson in a fitting analogy to her own end-of-life experience. Eleven Weeks is a window into the soul of Carla during her dying days after she was diagnosed with a very advanced and aggressive terminal illness; lovingly captured and put together by her wife, Anna Kuperberg and close friend Julie Caskey. Make no mistake, this short documentary is profoundly honest but not gloomy; without dramatizing the situation nor glorifying her life, this film offers a calm and loving insight into Carla’s death.
Anna and Carla had been together for 17½ years before they were struck with the unimaginable tragic news of her impending death. Yet despite all odds, the film succeeds in portraying Carla’s last days in a positive and heart-warming light. “I’m really enjoying what time we have left” says Carla, this is a “good part of my life…I get to hear from people that they love me…I get to reflect on my life and I feel happy about it; I feel satisfied”. However, the film also does not shy away from the cold, hard issues and allows the audience to see Carla’s vulnerable side too as she admits that “yes, I’m scared too”, as she has tears streaming quietly down her face, and as she uses a walking frame to get around the house.
Anna Kuperberg is a professional photographer by trade and so it tracks that this film is mesmerising to watch; as if the clear pictures reflect the apparent clarity Carla has when coming to terms with her demise. In one scene the camera shows Carla saying “you’re so beautiful” when in reality it is Carla and the grace with which she has met her last days that is beautiful to see. The one and only point I was disgruntled with during the film was when I saw poor Carla giving their cat a free ride on her shoulders as she painstakingly moved along the corridor with the help of a walking frame. Cats can be so self-serving sometimes! In any case, Eleven Weeks is for sure a remarkable love letter comprised of wonderful cinematography that showcases an incredible human spirit. In a podcast hosted by WILDsound with Anna as the guest, she reveals that Carla had always been a gentle, strong person, who would be calm in an emergency and make you feel safe – this definitely translated to the screen and it was incredibly moving and humbling to be able to witness this.
Perhaps unexpectedly due to the subject matter, I found Eleven Weeks to be, dare I say, inspiring and reassuring to watch. It showed that not all end-of-life events are necessarily wrought with drama and distress. Here was a loving couple that treasured their last days together and managed to capture the essence of their loving relationship and of Carla’s strength and positivity. Carla’s personality definitely shines through during this documentary and much like the window she was trying to fix, her life was extended through this film. May she rest in peace and be forever remembered.
Other films with women-loving-women representation which also cover the loss of a loved one include Half Lost and Light in Dark Places – both available to watch now on the Lesflicks Video-On-Demand Platform.
In light of the issues raised by this film I have attached some links below in case you or anyone you know may find them useful:
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Writer, Reviewer, Social
Ping believes in the power of love and kindness, and that "love is love" no matter what shape or form it comes in. She would like to see positive representation for all walks of life in film and media.