Liberty explores the deep connections in a circle of lesbian friends as they face death and celebrate life and love. Viewers say Liberty has documented the meaning of community with rare grace and wit. It is not a wimpy, weepy tale by a mile, but a keen celebration of family values. Liberty demystifies death, dispels misinformation about age and sexual orientation, and reminds us how rich life is, even in the shadow of death.
Part One: Death to Life records the death of Joyce Fulton, 66. In the opening scenes, we see her, wasted, beyond speech, with a group of friends around her who are helping her out of this world. Moving backwards in time, we then observe the process of Joyce's terminal brain cancer over the course of two years. In a sense, we see Joyce moving from sick to well, becoming the person she was on the day she celebrated retiring from teaching high school four years earlier.
Part Two: Life to Death is a reminiscence of Mary Bell Wilson, 79, described by one of her friends as "a Katherine Hepburn type." She is a long time friend of Joyce Fulton, and Joyce reappears several times in Life to Death. Before Mary Bell dies, she has high hopes of building a new home with her lover and partner of 25 years and of riding in Dykes on Bikes in the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade. With indefatigable courage, she faces up to her own losing struggle with lymphoma.
Part Three: Life is about Nan Golub, a close friend of both Joyce and Mary Bell. In New York, in winter, we see her living as an artist -- a black-leather-jacketed, platinum-dyed city woman. In one sequence she sketches a family tree of the women we've met earlier and suddenly we have a more vivid idea of who they were and what they've meant to each other. Golub ties the three parts of the documentary together and reminds us that in spite of tragedy and death, life is worth living, even worth celebrating.
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