Viaticum

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Liz Newey, a recovering alcoholic, is in the midst of her early morning recitation of the Twelve Steps, when she’s interrupted by a phone call. Her father, Frank Newey, estranged for twenty-three years, is on his death bed in a Toronto hospital.

Torn, Liz arrives at her morning waitressing shift but ultimately decides to ask her boss for three days off. She needs to tackle “Step Nine”- make amends – of the AA program. Her boss and AA sponsor, Edith understands all too well.

At the hospital, Father Warren, a young inexperienced priest with a past, offers Frank the sacrament of Viaticum, the giving of the last rites. Frank reluctantly agrees but is more concerned about the priest helping him to complete a letter to his daughter Liz.

Liz, riddled with disturbing childhood memories, including that of the suicide of her older brother, drives on determined to see her father before he passes.

A near accident derails her and she finds herself seated at a roadside bar. As Liz contemplates the drink before her, the priest tries to complete the last rites but Frank, staring at mortality, interrupts and asks the priest to hear his confession. The struggle against time for both father and daughter is real.

Regrettably, Father Warren does not succeed in completing the sacrament. As Liz hurries to her father’s hospital room, a deflated Father Warren, exits the hospital only to be brutally attacked by a druggie. The sacred viaticum case is scattered about and the letter to Liz tumbles from the priest’s jacket pocket.

Liz, alone with her deceased father attempts to make peace with him but peace is elusive. She numbly exits the hospital and surprisingly finds all that she emotionally sought.

Logline

When Liz Newey learns her estranged father is dying she comes to realize that the anger she’s harboured has fueled her alcohol addiction. She soon discovers that only forgiveness can set her free.

Directed by Lara Daans (Canada)

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