The Babz Chula Lifeline for Artists Society

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CHI to Screen at WIWIFF14

CHI will screen on Saturday, March 8 at 1PM. The screening will begin with a special presentation by Anne (via Skype as she’ll be in Toronto for the Canadian Screen Awards).

About the film: 

Anyone who knew Babz Chula—a talented, larger-than-life performer from Canada’s West Coast—could tell you that her life force, or chi, was incredibly strong. When Chula reconnected with director Anne Wheeler in 2009, they discovered a mutual interest: India.

Wheeler accompanies her friend Chula to Kerala, India, where she is to undergo treatment by a renowned Ayurvedic healer in an effort to manage her 6-year battle with cancer.

Showing the excruciating treatments in true vérité style, Wheeler and Chula are hopeful that the bare-bones clinic will deliver and indeed, the treatment seems to provide temporary improvement, before taking a turn for the worse. Amazingly, the irrepressible Chula invites Wheeler and her camera to continue bearing witness to her journey into the unknown.

Wheeler’s up close and personal narration, as well as Chula’s darkly humorous, blatantly honest video diary offer a highly meritorious film beyond Chula’s reputation. Expect to be entertained, astonished and moved.

Tickets are on sale through Vancity Theatre and more information can be found here.
Film outreach poster_Chi

Praise for “Chi”

In the last few months of Babz’ life, she traveled to India to an ayurvedic spa to seek treatment. She took her dear friend, Anne Wheeler, along with her, and camera crew to document the process. Babz blogged about those days, and you can see those posts here.

The footage that Anne shot has finally been edited, and is now a documentary called Chi.

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It screened recently in Toronto, and here is the review:

Canadian actress Babz Chula has been fighting cancer for a long, long time. Not knowing if she can take another round of chemotherapy, she convinces her friend (and the film’s director) to join her on a trip to India to be treated at an ayurvedic clinic. After six weeks of treatment, Babz seems transformed but returns home only to discover her cancer has spread and she only has weeks to live. Babz insists that Wheeler continue filming, if only to chronicle her last weeks, days and moments surrounded by her family.

Chi is a heartbreaking movie, but it is only heartbreaking because it is so real. The journey being taken by a deeply ill woman and her friend is the kind of intimate portrait of illness that we simply don’t get in North America. What’s more is that the way in which Babz chose to live her last days, surrounded by family and embracing the way in which she wanted to pass is nothing short of inspiring, even if the “happy” ending to this film isn’t that everyone lives happily ever after.

If you have ever been there for someone’s last breath, you know that not every passing is exactly as we would like it to be. North America deals so poorly with illness and death that we are closeted from exactly the kind of experience this film shows us. Chi shows us that not shutting down, not shutting off, can be the most healing experience of all.

This film is not easy to watch, but it should probably be watched by everyone. You will absolutely be transformed and healed by it.

Is Chi essential Hot Docs viewing?

Yes, this is absolutely essential Hot Docs viewing, but understand that you will leave sobbing, and somehow slightly lighter inside. This is also an NFB film, so if for any reason you cannot fit this into your festival schedule, you will still be able to access the film later. This is a film to be cherished.

Click here to read the entire post.

Babz Chula Fundraiser with Colleen Rennison & No Sinner, Oct 15

Colleen and Babz shared a special connection. They worked together numerous times, and Babz mentored the younger actress.

In Babz’ last days, Colleen went to her apartment and sang for her, and performed at Babz’ memorial. Since then, her band, No Sinner, has taken off exponentially, creating a deep and loyal fan base, touring, and releasing an album and two videos.

On Monday, October 15, No Sinner will be playing a fundraiser concert at the Backstage Lounge on Granville Island. The proceeds will go to two theatre productions: Dinner With Friends (starring Ben Ratner, one of Babz’ dearest friends), and Race, as well as the Babz Chula Lifeline for Artists Society.

Come join us!

And check out No Sinners’ brand new video: Love is a Madness

I’m going to India

I’m going to India. Really.  This is not something I’m just making up or wishing for.  I’m going.  Janurary. The first day of 2010.  Could there be a more auspicious day?  This is what happened:

My daughter went with me to chemo one day last year.  We spent the time chatting and visiting with some of the other women there that I’ve gotten to know somewhat.  All day a woman across the room who I had never seen before and I exchanged nods and recognition and by the end of the day, as she was getting ready to leave, she approached me and my daughter and introduced herself.  She said she’d the feeling we’d met before, as I did, and finally felt it necessary to actually come over and speak.  She had something to share with me, she said, and proceeded to describe to me a treatment she had returned from just the night before.  She was in India, Kerala, to be exact, having something called, “pancha karma”.  All the time she spoke to us I was taken by her light, her radiance.  And the story she unfolded told of miraculous doings.  By the time she was finished, it had become dark, and my treatment was almost over as well.  We promised to stay in touch and for days the stories she told me resonated in my ears.

It seems her cancer had metastasized and finally came to a point where the doctors had nothing more to offer her.  She was sent home to put her affairs in order.  Instead of giving up at that point she went to a small clinic in India that she had heard of.  A place steeped in tradition, run by three generations of doctors.  When she arrived she’d had so many tumours that they could not be counted.  When she returned, they were gone.

That was when I knew that I would be taking a journey to India in the future, and now the future is here.  I’ve gone as far as I can with chemo, so I am going to India for six weeks. My understanding of Aryuvedic medicine is that the treatments are very simple and gentle, but profound.  The mind, body, and spirit are all addressed in this healing process.  I am going with full intentions to experience miracles.  I am going to heal from cancer. I’ve put all my eggs in one basket.  There is no place else I can go at this point.  It’s either more chemo or India and I do not think I can tolerate any longer the diminished quality of life that chemo inflicts on a person.

I don’t know yet how I will communicate with the outside world once I am in the clinic, but if there is a computer there, then I will continue to blog and share my experience from there.  If I have to wait until I return, then I will fill you in at that time.  I’m excited and frightened and thrilled.  I cannot go on this journey and expect to remain the same.  Transformation is imminent.

Wish me luck!

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