AWARDS

FILMOGRAPHY

Consider the Conversation: A Documentary on a Taboo Subject

In the fall of 2005, Terry Kaldhusdal and Michael Bernhagen were sitting around the fire during their annual father/child camping trip in Wisconsin's beautiful Kettle Moraine State Forest. As usual, their conversation covered many topics, but for some reason, that evening they landed on the subject of end-of-life care in America. At the time, Mike was two years removed from the painful loss of his mother to congestive heart failure and vascular dementia, and one year into his work as a community educator for one of the nation's largest providers of hospice care. Terry, meanwhile was busy teaching fourth grade at Magee Elementary School in Genesee Depot, Wisconsin, and producing The General of Progression: The Story of John S. Rockwell, his first documentary film.

Terry listened, spellbound, as Mike told the story of his mother's death and lessons learned from meetings with doctors, nurses, social workers, clergy, terminally ill patients, and family members. "Someday, I'd like to make a documentary on this subject," Terry responded. "Would you be willing to help?"

Then, in late April 2007, the friends arrived at a tipping point when Terry's brother, Peter, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Two years later, on May 7, 2009, they shot their first interview with Vermont author Stephen Kiernan. Terry was behind the camera and Mike conducted the interview - roles that would become the norm moving forward. Strangely enough, Stephen's answer to the last question in their 90-minute interview became the film's conclusion and they worked backwards from there.

Over the course of the next 14 months, Bernhagen and Kaldhusdal conducted more than 100 interviews for Consider the Conversation - including 62 impromptu "person on the street" interviews in New York City, and over 40 in-depth interviews with patients, family members, doctors, nurses, social workers, clergy and end-of-life care experts from around the country. Their aim was to provide a 360-degree perspective on what it means to die in 21st century America.

What they learned is that there's something universally human about end-of-life - something that transcends what makes us different - and that is the desire to express our hopes, fears and wishes about a chapter in life that is as normal as birth and adolescence. Even if it means we don't want to talk about it.

What we're failing to do as a culture and as a medical system is give people permission to talk.

American medicine's success has created a new problem. That is, the vast majority of patients can now expect to die in a place (a hospital or nursing home) and in a way (with increased quantity, but reduced quality, of life) that most wouldn't choose if only asked. Talking about how we want to live at end of life is now taboo, despite the fact that it is as natural as birth. Because of this cultural barrier, patients and families are suffering needlessly. It is a problem we never intended to create and one that must be solved, but how?

Twenty one months in the making and partially funded by private donations, Consider the Conversation 2: Stories about Cure, Relief, and Comfort takes a hard look at some of the unintended consequences of American medicine's success and sheds light on the importance of the patient/doctor relationship and patient/doctor communication when living with severe chronic disease.

While in production, Michael Bernhagen and Terry Kaldhusdal interviewed doctors from all around the United States including Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston; Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Duke University Medical Center; Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin; Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City; Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Los Angeles; Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare in Milwaukee; the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle; the University of Arizona in Tucson; the University of Wisconsin in Madison; Yale; and Zumbrota, Minnesota.

They also visited with residents of a Chicago nursing home and were embedded with palliative care teams at Duke University Medical Center and the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics where they were privileged to interview seriously ill patients and their physicians as well as film actual patient/doctor conversations as they took place in the context of the clinical encounter.

The film begins with Amanda Redig, a young internal medicine resident from Boston, sharing the beautiful account of her personal calling to medicine and ends with Robert Fulghum, author of All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten, reading a story that teaches us what needs to change in order to move from what is to what could be.

In between, the viewer bears witness to some of the most powerful stories ever captured on film about the universal human hope for cure, need for relief, and wish for comfort.

ACCOLADE GLOBAL FILM COMPETITION

USE OF FILM FOR
SOCIAL CHANGE

ACCOLADE GLOBAL FILM COMPETITION

VIEWER IMPACT AWARD

HORIZON

HOME CARE

& HOSPICE

TOUCHING LIVES AWARD

Consider the Conversation 2:

Stories about Cure, Relief, and Comfort


Emmy® Nomination, Outstanding Achievement for Documentary Programs: Topical

Chicago/Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences


Gabriel Award Nomination, Outstanding Achievement: Television Documentary, Local Release

2015 Gabriel Awards


Bronze Telly Award: Documentary

The 36th Annual Telly Awards
 

Bronze Telly Award: Directing

The 36th Annual Telly Awards
 

Humanitarian Award: Outstanding Achievement

Global Film Awards
 

Award of Excellence: Documentary Short

The Accolade Global Film Competition

 

Award of Excellence: Use of Film/Video for Social Change

The Accolade Global Film Competition
 

Award of Excellence: Viewer Impact: Content/Message Delivery

The Accolade Global Film Competition
 

Award of Excellence: Editing

The Accolade Global Film Competition
 

Award of Excellence: Direction

The Accolade Global Film Competition
 

Award of Excellence: Health/Medicine/Science

The Accolade Global Film Competition
 

Humanitarian Award: Outstanding Achievement

The Accolade Global Film Competition
 

Silver Award of Excellence: Best Public Affairs Program, Documentary or News Special

85th Annual Milwaukee Press Club

Awards for Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism Competition
 

Consider the Conversation:

A Documentary on a Taboo Subject 

 

Award of Excellence: Use of Film/Video for Social Change 

Best Shorts Competition

 

Award of Excellence: Short Documentary

The Accolade

 

Silver Award of Excellence: Best Public Affairs Program, Documentary or News Special

82nd Annual Milwaukee Press Club

Awards for Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism Competition

 

Award of Merit: Use of Film/Video for Social Change

Indie Fest

 

Award of Merit: Short Documentary

Best Shorts Competition

 

Award of Merit: Concept

The Accolade

 

Award of Merit: Direction

Best Shorts Competition

 

Award of Merit: Viewer Impact: Content/Message Delivery

The Accolade 

 

Award of Merit: Viewer Impact: Content/Message Delivery 

Best Shorts Competition

 

Touching Lives Award

Horizon Home Care & Hospice

 

Award of Excellence in End-of-Life Care

Agrace HospiceCare

Accolades

©Burning Hay Wagon Productions

Using film to inspire dialogue about end-of-life wishes