Uncensored, uninhibited, and with an unbreakable spirit, 65_RedRoses explores what it means to be 23 years old and faced with an unknown fate. Eva Markvoort is a vivacious and charismatic young woman. But her lifelong struggle with cystic fibrosis — a fatal genetic disease affecting the lungs and digestive system — has reached a crisis point. She needs a double lung transplant as soon as possible or she will die.
Redefining the traditional scope of documentary film in an electronic age, 65_RedRoses leaves viewers with a new appreciation of life and the digital world. This personal and touching journey takes an unflinching look into the lives of Eva and her two online friends who are all battling cystic fibrosis (CF).
Unable to meet in person because of the spread of infections and super bugs, the girls have become each other’s lifelines through the Internet, providing unconditional love, support and understanding long after visiting hours are over. Now at a critical turning point in their lives, the film travels the distance the friends cannot go themselves, capturing the compelling and often heartbreaking realities they face, just trying to take each breath.
The film is filled with extraordinary moments of human drama. Eva’s father uneasily confesses that he has hoped for a traffic accident that would result in new lungs for his daughter. Eva’s rebellious friend Meg admits to smoking pot despite the weakness of her lungs. And the camera is rolling at the exact moment when Eva’s pager goes off – and it keeps rolling for over 24 hours straight as Eva rushes to Vancouver General Hospital.
This documentary is a tribute to the inspiring story of Eva, her online friends Kina and Meg, and the ongoing 65 Red Roses campaign to raise awareness about organ donations and cystic fibrosis.
National Organ and Tissue Awareness Week is April 19 - 25, 2015. May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month. For more information about the 65 Red Roses campaign, please visit 65redroses.com
65_RedRoses is directed by Philip Lyall and Nimisha Mukerji who also produced along with John Ritchie of Force Four Entertainment, Vancouver, in association with CBC News Network. Winner of the Banff Rocky Award for Best Canadian Program; winner of the Most Popular Canadian Film and Most Popular Canadian Documentary at the Vancouver International Film Festival; Audience Favourite at Hot Docs 2009.
A Very Personal Film
Philip Lyall and Nimisha Mukerji, the two young filmmakers & collaborators behind 65_RedRoses, tell the story of how it came to be.
The actual documentary idea came in May 2007 when both of us went to visit our friend in the hospital, Eva Markvoort, who had a fatal genetic disease called Cystic Fibrosis. When we met with Eva, she had recently been told by doctors that she had less than two years to live if she did not get a transplant. From the outside she was trying to look like a normal 23-year old, but on the inside her body was totally shutting down. We were so captivated by Eva’s personality and her will to live that we decided to begin following her story as she went through the process of transplant. Nothing could have prepared us for the journey we were about to take.
In our province, British Columbia, Canada, we have the lowest donor rate in the country, so we had to prepare ourselves for the worst possible outcome: that Eva could die on the wait list. Not knowing when Eva’s pager might go off for transplant, we moved full speed ahead with production. We began shooting without funding. Our Director of Photography, Mike Rae, volunteered his camera and services so that we did not miss any important moments. Eva’s family as well as her entire medical team, headed by transplant surgeon Dr. John Yee, gave us their full support even in the very early stages of the project’s development. They guaranteed us unlimited access to the hospitals and surgery rooms, should Eva get the call.
As we began to learn more about Eva’s situation, she told us that she was not permitted to be around other Cystic Fibrosis patients due to the threat of spreading infection. If she were to catch a super bug or virus from another CF patient, it could jeopardize her chances for transplant completely. We couldn’t believe that she was going through the most important time of her life and she wasn’t able to talk to anyone else with her illness. She told us how through the internet she had been able to form friendships with two other young women battling the disease. We realized that this was not simply a film about a sick girl with CF; this was also a story about the unlikely friendship between Eva and her online friends Meg and Kina, as they helped each other through some of the most difficult moments of their lives.
Our greatest hope for this documentary is that when people watch it, they feel compelled to register to be an organ donor. We have witnessed first-hand the difference it can make in a life. Eva would not be here if it wasn’t for her donor, and we are grateful every day that she got the second chance at life she deserved.
Directed and Produced by
Commissioning Editor, CBC
Additional Camera Operators