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How I Die (Die Faehre)

The journey of a remarkable young Berlin woman facing her imminent death. Halina has gracefully accepted that she is dying of cancer. But a burning desire to return to her family studio over two hours away, in Lübbow, and to relive the spring festival, becomes her last wish. Surrounding herself in beauty, she shares her thoughts about her life and dying, spends moments with her family and little daughter, and prepares for the last journey. An intimate story of embracing the unknown.

  • Julie Le Gal
    Director
    Warehouse 13, Pointe aux chimères, The Breeder
  • Halina Kremser
    Key Cast
  • Eva Brüggemann
    Music
    Hofkomponistin, Evantgarde, Bling Blang
  • Esmerine
    music
    Juno award, Bruce Cawdron (Godpseed You! Black Emperor), Rebecca Foon (Thee Silver Mt. Zion, Saltland)
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Die Faehre (How I Die)
  • Project Type:
    Documentary
  • Genres:
    Life affirming, spirituality, directed by a woman
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 16 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 12, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    10,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    Canada
  • Country of Filming:
    Germany
  • Language:
    German
  • Shooting Format:
    HD
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    Yes
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Austin International Art Festival
    Austin, Texas
    United States
    December 22, 2021
    Winner Best First-time Filmmaker in a Long Feature Film
  • Boden International Film Festival
    Boden
    Sweden
    April 10, 2021
    Winner Best First Time Documentary Film
  • Sweden Film Awards
    Stockholm
    Sweden
    April 4, 2021
    Winner First Documentary Film
  • Toronto International Women Film Festival
    Toronto
    Canada
    April 5, 2021
    Winner Best First Time Female Filmmaker
  • Tagore International Film Festival
    Bolpur
    India
    May 28, 2021
    Monthly Winner Film on Women
  • Tagore International Film Festival
    Bolpur
    India
    May 28, 2021
    Monthly Winner Best Soundtrack
  • Luleå International Film Festival
    Luleå, Norrbotten
    Sweden
    June 1, 2021
    Finalist Best First-time Director
  • Vancouver Independent Film Festival
    Vancouver
    Canada
    October 15, 2021
    Semi-Finalist Best First Time Filmmaker
  • Madrid Arthouse Film Festival
    Madrid
    Spain
    July 30, 2021
    Semi-Finalist Documentary Features
  • Montreal Independent Film Festival
    Montreal
    Canada
    April 27, 2021
    Official Selection Best First Time Filmmaker
  • Cannes International Cinema Festival
    Cannes
    France
    May 28, 2021
    Official Selection Best First Time Filmmaker
  • Chicago Indie Film Awards
    Chicago
    United States
    April 23, 2021
    Official Selection Best First Time Filmmaker
  • Miami Indie Film Awards
    Miami
    United States
    June 29, 2021
    Official Selection Best Female Filmmaker
  • LA Independent Women Film Awards
    Los Angeles
    United States
    April 20, 2021
    Official Selection Best Female Director
  • Toronto Film Magazine Fest
    Toronto
    Canada
    April 28, 2021
    Official Selection Best Documentary Film
  • Berlin International Art Film Festival
    Berlin
    Germany
    June 12, 2021
    Official Selection Best First Time Feature Filmmaker
  • MyMrsTimeless
    London
    United Kingdom
    February 18, 2022
    Official Selection BEST FIRST TIME FILMMAKER
  • Life Beyond Life Film Festival
    Turin
    Italy
    March 27, 2023
    Italian Premiere, first live screening
    Best Documentary Film
Director Biography - Julie Le Gal

Julie Le Gal is from a theatre family in Toronto, Canada. She studied the Michael Chekhov Technique for two years in New York, where she joined the Actors’ Ensemble for many years of creation and touring shows. She produced, created, directed and performed in Berlin and throughout Germany, and in Canada. On screen, she can be seen in independant features, shorts, and MOWs and TV series for CBC and SyFy. Behind the scenes, she has photographed and assistant produced. How I Die -Die Faehre is her first film. She lives in Wakefield, Québec with her family.

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Director Statement

Director’s Statement
Having lost both my parents at an early age, I was always aware of life being ephemeral, and felt there was a gift in being close to the dying.

I heard that Halina, a past colleague and friend, was in a hospice dying of cancer. A few days later, I was flying from Canada to Berlin to film and document her last weeks. I filmed her with friends and family, with nurses and therapists, I interviewed her, and filmed her surroundings.

The fact that I was using such simple equipment made it easy for me to be present and unobtrusive. Though at first, I wanted to just be present and not impose any external view, in retrospect, I understood that what we film is in itself already a point of view. In that I saw that I was seeking to look at the world through her eyes, see what she focused on and took to heart.

Her family and little girl were so kind to include me in their poignant visits. The caregivers and therapists that surround her in much of the film are from a wonderful anthroposophical hospital and I can’t say enough how generous and real they all were.

Saying goodbye after this first week of filming, I didn’t know if I would ever see her again. But three weeks later, I returned to follow her to a studio north of Berlin where she had organized a bed, a doctor and night nurse to care for her so she could experience the rural arts festival that takes place there every year, and say goodbye to friends. These days were full of adventure and poignant moments. She passed away a week after I left her.

Working with the material has been a profound and life-changing journey. How do we choose to live with the inevitable presence of death? Most of us ignore it until, like in Halina’s case, it makes itself known. Halina takes us into her reflections on how we live, her struggles, what there is to let go of and what there is to engage with. She lets us into her world, an intimate, almost sacred space to be, letting us experience of the pain and surprises of the journey at this time before the great unknown.

The film looks at Halina’s attitude towards death, her questions and her fears. She strives to learn, and understand right to the end, despite pain and disappointments, and her love of life and beauty fills the story. She finds a way to die her own death, in acceptance, in forgiveness, even in joy.

Being close to the threshold of the end of life wakes us up, realigns our values, reminds of what matters, what is funny, and teaches us profound lessons about being alive. My hope for this film is that it will do just that for audiences.