A Lion in the House (NC)

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The Independent Culture

It's difficult to recommend a documentary that, for almost four hours, starkly depicts the prolonged suffering and death of children. Yet the film is a sincere effort to question the medical, moral and emotional factors involved in the treatment of people with terminal illness.

The directors followed five US children and their families over a six-year period, as the kids received treatment for a variety of cancers, at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. Some survive, others do not. They all go through hell, while the doctors chase their tails in the search for cures, and their parents struggle with the financial and emotional fall-out. The film reveals the paradox inherent in advanced medicine - that the more faith we have in the next experimental treatment, the longer our loved ones suffer; when the end may be inevitable. The kids, meanwhile, redefine one's idea of courage.