Dancer and choreographer Dave St-Pierre is adored by critics and audiences alike. His subversive, innovative works are taking Europe by storm. But his own body is failing him. Dave is 34 and has cystic fibrosis. The average life expectancy for sufferers is 37. His doctors have given him two years to live unless he has a lung transplant. With a sense of growing urgency, his best friend and creative partner, director and actress Brigitte Poupart, turns her camera on the daily life of a man who is waiting for a life-or-death call from the doctor--a call that could come at any moment. United by art and friendship, the two create a space in which creativity emerges as a vital act. Over My Dead Body is an engrossing private diary that accepts neither taboos nor fate. It features testimonials from Dave’s friends, loved ones, and collaborators, as well as excerpts from his works.
The title encapsulates the film to come: a healthy dose of joke and jest infused into very serious, life-and-death-and-the-meaning-of-it-all content. “What else to do but dance?” a close friend and collaborator of Dave St. Pierre’s declares, summarizing the film’s raw, honest, staying-with-the-trouble take on what it means to face death, and, very concretely, to engage in a process of dying. What is a body for, anyways? How do we spend our bodies, our energies, our lives? These are all questions that screamed out at me, watching the incredible vulnerability and tenderness that Over My Dead Body brings forth through an intimate journey of creation, of being, of becoming, and of unbecoming.
This chronicle of how to live through disappointment and despair, how to keep going, to hold on, to have hope amidst such very potent and real illness and loss, in a film about a man struggling for literal breath, takes on a new level of meaning from the vantage point of 2022. Many traditions around the world consider the lungs to be the seat of our grief; walking with St. Pierre as he trails his metal oxygen canister on wheels behind him through the streets of Montreal winter, one cannot help but feel the very palpable urgency and deep will to live that this film gifts us. May it help us gather the courage to make it through another pandemic winter together.
Writer, translator, performance maker, cinephile
Since graduating from Montreal’s Conservatoire de Théâtre in 1990, Brigitte Poupart has performed in more than 30 plays, on both major stages and in experimental theatres. She was a founding member of the musical group Les Secrétaires Percutantes, and co-founder and co-director of the Transthéâtre company, which has staged original productions including Le Défilé des canards dorés (Théâtre La Licorne 1998), W.C. (Espace Go 1999 and Quebec tour 2000), Babel (Espace Go 2002), L'Édifice (Festival de théâtre de rue de Shawinigan 2003), Cérémonials (Espace Go 2004), L'Autoroute (Festival d'été de Québec 2006), Les Cabarets Insupportables ( Lion d'Or, Montreal), Un jour ou l'autre (Espace Go 2008). She was co-production designer and co-artistic director, with Hélène Pedneault, of the Semaine de théâtre politique (political theatre week), held at Espace Go in 2005. She has also been a member of the Zapartistes collective since 2005. In 2010, Poupart decided to follow longtime collaborator and friend, internationally acclaimed Canadian choreographer Dave St-Pierre, with her camera during his relentless battle against cystic fibrosis, capturing the creation of his masterworks and leaving us with a beautiful and moving ode to the artist. Over My Dead Body (2011) is her first documentary feature.