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A LION IN THE HOUSE is a feature documentary spanning six years in the lives of five American families who each have a child fighting cancer.
All five kids in A LION IN THE HOUSE receive care at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, home to one of the world's top pediatric oncology divisions. Filmmakers Steven Bognar & Julia Reichert, whose own daughter is a childhood cancer survivor, were granted unprecedented access to Cincinnati Children's, filming doctor & nurse rounds meetings, counseling sessions, surgeries, and numerous, challenging encounters between parents and caregivers.
For many families, childhood cancer is a crucible of difficult choices and untested treatments. The film shows differing, at times clashing, points of view, allowing us to grapple with our own ethical decision-making process.
The film raises a number of contemporary societal issues, all through organic documentary storytelling. As we watch the five families of diverse racial and economic backgrounds, we see and feel the economic impact of cancer on families, and how health care disparities add to the burden on poor families. We witness the challenges of surviving cancer, of reclaiming a damaged life in the aftermath of this fight. And we wrestle with the most difficult choices of all - how far to go in fighting for a child's life when it begins to be clear that the child will not survive. Modern medicine offers amazing technology, but it now puts many parents in the role of playing God. Around these issues, A LION IN THE HOUSE vividly shows that our medical advances have outpaced our ability to handle their moral dimensions.
Yet for all the harrowing days, A LION IN THE HOUSE abounds with the spark & rebellious attitude of kids and teenagers determined to keep their spirits unbroken by either their disease or its arduous treatments.
When we meet them, the five kids range in age from 7 to 19. The film unfolds in a present-tense, largely cinema verité form, across the years. We are with the kids, their moms, dads, and siblings, at home, school, work, church, camping, and family trips. The months turn into years, as we go through many ups and downs with each family, creating a journey of both epic and deeply intimate proportions.
A LION IN THE HOUSE also tells the stories of the doctors and nurses on the front lines of the fight to improve survival rates for childhood cancer. These professionals, who go to work each day knowing they may witness the death of a child that they've known & supported for years, bring remarkable clarity and honesty to their own struggles to do this work while retaining their humanity.
Weaving the stories of the five kids, their families and their caregivers, A LION IN THE HOUSE creates an extraordinary and complex portrait of human resilience.
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