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SICK: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF BOB FLANAGAN, SUPERMASOCHIST

USA, 1997 (MIFF 1997, Documentaries)

Director: Kirby Dick

Sick chronicles the life and art of poet and per­formance artist Bob Flanagan and his ongo­ing struggle against the scourge of Cystic Fibrosis. A gruelling and highly explicit film Sick is director Kirby Dick's wildly original and audacious third documentary. The filmmaker was exceptionally close to his subject having known Bob Flanagan for six years before his death in January 1996.

Rather than appealing solely to a select or simply voyeuristic audience, Dick says that his film has struck a chord with the elderly for instance who "...relate to the film because it deals with illness and pain and because it makes clear the one inescapable thing about pain that you have to find your own way of living with it." Bob Flanagan's art was a reaction to and defiant stance against the debilitating effects of CF which manifested itself as a passion for the most extreme forms of Sadomasochism. This was embodied in confronting public performances and his private relationship with partner/S&M dominant Sheree Rose.

Uninhibited, self-effacing and disarmingly humorous, Flanagan is an extremely likable and intriguing subject. Sick is incredibly inspira­tional amazingly intimate and an extraordinari­ly thorough examination of a very unusual life. Captivating!

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