On Screen/In Person film explores dimensions of personal grief with pet loss


The Mercyhurst Institute for Arts & Culture presents the next installment of its On Screen/In Person film series with FUREVER, a feature-length documentary that explores the dimensions of grief people experience over the loss of a pet. The film will screen on Sunday, Oct. 13, at 2 p.m. in the Taylor Little Theatre at Mercyhurst University. 

The film will be followed by a panel discussion with Amy Finkel, the filmmaker; Ruth Thompson Carroll, director/founder of The ANNA Shelter; and Nancy Bird-Blackwood, private practice psychotherapist.

Moviegoers who bring a donation of blankets, pet food or toys to Erie’s no-kill animal shelter, The ANNA Shelter, will receive discounted admission of $1.

FUREVER examines the sociological evolution of pets in the U.S. today, particularly their position in a family unit, and how this evolution is affecting those in the veterinary profession and death care industry. The film includes interviews from grieving pet owners, veterinarians, psychologists, sociologists, religious scholars and neuroscientists.

Learn about the many professionals who preserve a pet's body for their devastated clientele, or re-purpose a pet's remains in unique ways, including taxidermy, cloning, mummification, freeze-drying and many more. FUREVER confronts contemporary trends, perspectives and relevant cultural assumptions regarding attachment, religion, ritual, grief and death. Ultimately, the film explores the bonds that form between humans and animals, both psychological and physiological.

The panelists bring a range of professional and personal experience with pet loss. Bird-Blackwood first became interested in the issue after the loss of her 12-year-old Sheltie, Sadie, which prompted her to sit on the Humane Society board for a number of years. Simultaneously, she did research on the loss of a pet with the cooperation of a local veterinary clinic and became involved with the Delta Association in Renton, Wash., which focuses on the human-animal bond. Carroll founded The ANNA Shelter in 2004, named after a Shitzu mix that was found by police and scheduled for euthanasia. She took care of the pup, cleaning her up and giving her a second chance, and decided to do the same for other animals like her.

Finkel is a designer, photographer, documentary filmmaker and writer. She is the founder and creative director of Sailor Beware, an agency that specializes in web design and video work. She is an instructor at both NYU and Parsons The New School for Design, where she teaches classes in photography, documentary filmmaking and web design. Finkel holds an MFA in design and technology from Parsons, as well as a BA in theater from Connecticut College. Her documentary, "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart," was nominated for the Pare Lorentz Award by the IDA.

Don’t miss FUREVER, and your chance to meet the director, at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, at the Taylor Little Theatre at Mercyhurst University.

The On Screen/In Person Series is made possible by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for students/seniors, free for Mercyhurst students with ID and $1 for those who bring a pet supply donation for The ANNA Shelter.

For more information, visit http://miac.mercyhurst.edu/ or call the box office at 814-824-3000.


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