Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Mondays at Racine (2012)

1 Nomination, 0 Wins

Nomination: Best Documentary, Short Subjects - Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan

I can't remember the last time I was as moved by a documentary short as much as I was moved by "Mondays at Racine."  The film offers a look at Racine Salon & Spa in Islip, New York, a salon that opened its doors to women with cancer on the third Monday of every month (the spa is now open for women with cancer every Monday).  This generous act is meant to "ease the pain and trauma of cancer and cancer treatment," by providing both spa services and helping women shave their hair when it falls out due to chemotherapy.

Director Cynthia Wade uses the Racine Salon & Spa as a window into the world of a few women who are suffering with cancer, focusing on two in particular, one who had been battling the disease for years and the other recently diagnosed.  Other women are introduced and talk about the effect of cancer, but by focusing on just two women at different ends of the cancer spectrum, the film is able to have maximum emotional impact.  Wade shows the devastating effect the disease has had on the women, and also explores the often overlooked effect on the family.  The film's tagline asks "When your life is at stake, why is losing your hair so hard?"  As a man, I probably would have asked the same question before watching "Mondays at Racine."  After watching it, the answer is obvious.

Pretty much any film made about the effects of cancer is going to be emotional.  Unlike many documentaries that focus on rare diseases or issues affecting far-flung regions of the world, we have all been touched by cancer and all bring our own emotional histories to a film such as "Mondays at Racine."  But "Mondays at Racine" is so expertly executed that audiences will not only respond to the film through the lens of their own emotional history, but primarily through the lenses of the women shown in the film.

Learn more about the work of Mondays at Racine at http://mondaysatracine.org

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