By Mark Bell | February 7, 2015

The life and death of a human being is seldom written and directed by the person experiencing both, unless of course that individual is Regina Nicholson. And though most people have probably never heard of Regina Nicholson, this will soon be rectified by the movie she left behind.

Regina Nicholson and Henry Corra’s Farewell to Hollywood is a documentary movie that follows Nicholson’s brief life, death—and the art of filmmaking. And though the film follows the usual documentary format, minus the aids of computer generated imagery and cinematic fillers, it often feels like a poetic, romantic-drama, with a strong, imaginative reach.

Regina Diane Nicholson (Reggie) was diagnosed with bone cancer when she was sixteen. Nicholson met seasoned-filmmaker Henry Corra at a film festival, when she was seventeen, and asked him to collaborate on a documentary film that would chronicle her life as a cancer patient and filmmaker. Nicholson had contemplated her life in film in 2010, with her six-minute documentary, Glimpse of Horizon, but felt that a feature length film would allow her the space she needed to tell her story.

Farewell to Hollywood is not an easy movie, in that it focuses on the intimate details of illness and death. The film might also be seen as controversial by some viewers, in regard to the close relationship that ensues between the much older Corra and the youthful Reggie. And though the closeness between the two is never sexual, it might be viewed as provocative in a different way. The movie also raises questions about the roles of filming collaborators, and if crossing unwritten filmmaking borders is ever all right, especially when Corra eventually becomes Nicholson’s primary caretaker and legal proxie.

My only concern about Farewell to Hollywood is that it runs just a bit too long; what I most appreciate about the film is its ability to portray Reggie’s zestful personality. Farewell to Hollywood is definitely not a movie for everyone, but I believe it’s a must-see for people struggling—not necessarily with illness—but with problems of communication.

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