Community Screenings of 'Being Mortal'

Lights, Camera, Action: Using Film to Engage Californians in Advance Care Planning

California communities hosted screenings and discussions of FRONTLINE's "Being Mortal" with Atul Gawande, which shares the experiences of patients and families at the end of life.

February 2016

In 2014 Harvard surgeon and writer Atul Gawande published the best-seller Being Mortal about modern medicine and the larger culture's difficulty with accepting death. In February 2015, a FRONTLINE documentary also called "Being Mortal" aired on public television stations nationwide. The program, which follows Dr. Gawande, shares the close-up experiences of several patients and families at the end of life, including his own. The film was funded by the John and Wauna Harman Foundation. (See the complete film online.)

While 2.4 million people watched the "Being Mortal" documentary when it was broadcast, viewing by African Americans, Latinos, and Asians was very low, together comprising only 11% of viewing households. The viewing audience also lacked diversity in other areas such as education level and age.

To help amplify the conversation, CHCF and the Harman Foundation teamed up to promote community screenings of "Being Mortal." Thirty-nine organizations across the state were selected to host screening events. Held in a variety of community settings and targeting diverse audiences, the screenings and post-screening discussions were intended to educate participants about choices they might make if they had a serious illness and to encourage them to identify and communicate their wishes to those who matter.

A post-screening email survey found that 91% say they are now more comfortable discussing their end-of-life wishes, and 81% say they have talked to someone about the kind of care they would want if they were dying.

  • SAN DIEGO: When her father got sick, Anabel made sure he got the kind of treatment that he wanted, and didn't get the treatment that he didn't want. But it was hard on her, as he didn't have an advance directive. Anabel took her mother to the screening to make sure she put her wishes into writing. (photo courtesy Anabel Kuykendall)
  • BERKELEY: Ashby Village, a senior support organization, hosted a screening at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley, which was attended by more than 150 people. A long waiting list prompted the group to hold a second event with screenings in English and Spanish. (photo courtesy Ashby Village)
  • OAKLAND: Husband and wife Bernie and Rose volunteer at the Vietnamese American Community Center of the East Bay, which hosted a screening in August. The film prompted Rose to talk to her 82-year-old mother, who also lives in Oakland. (photo courtesy VACCEB).
  • OAKLAND: Gwen and Asale, founders of the East Bay advocacy group Grandmothers Who Help, organized two well-attended screenings of "Being Mortal." The film prompted Asale to formalize her own wishes and to have candid conversations about end-of-life care with her family. (photo courtesy Audrey Chiang)
  • LOS ANGELES: Luz attended a screening at Cal State LA and moderated one of discussions that followed. Because of her experience with her mother, who was subjected to unwanted medical interventions just before she died, Luz is passionate about encouraging others to document their end-of-life care wishes. (photo courtesy Luz Solis)
  • SAN FRANCISCO: The Institute on Aging organized a screening of "Being Mortal" to a packed house. One attendee talked about the role of culture in end-of-life care. She shared her experience as a caregiver for her grandmother, an immigrant from China: "There wasn't any formal end-of-life planning. My dad, aunt, and I made all the decisions about her care. In her last year, she became very frail. We could all see that it was really hard on her. She was from a different generation. She never learned English, didn't know how to read. She was accustomed to other people taking care of the decisions." (photo courtesy IOA)

The complete survey results, along with an issue brief that summarizes the project, is available as a Document Download. Click through the slideshow above to learn about some of the screening participants. See a February 2016 interview with Dr. Gawande about turning his book into a film.

The interactive map below shows where the screenings took place throughout the state.

  1. Aug. 15 - El Camino Hosptial, Mountain View

    El Camino Hospital, Conference Rooms A & B

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 8/15/2015

    Time: 2:00-4:00 PM

    Address: 2500 Grant Road, Mountain View, CA 95682

    Contact : 415-568-5517

    Hosted by the Chinese American Coalition for Compassionate Care
  2. Aug. 17 - San Mateo Medical Center

    San Mateo Medical Center, Education Room 1&2

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 8/17/2015

    Time: 11:00 AM- 1:00 PM

    Address: 222 W. 39th Ave., San Mateo, CA 94403

    Contact : 650-573-3589

    Hosted by San Mateo Medical Center Senior Care Center
  3. Aug. 20 - Eastside Neighborhood Center, San Jose

    Eastside Neighborhood Center

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 8/20/2015

    Time: 9:30-11:30 AM

    Address: 2150 Alum Rock Ave., San Jose, CA 95116

    Contact : 408-325-5176

    Hosted by Catholic Charities- Santa Clara County
  4. Aug. 22 - Elmhurst United Methodist Church, Oakland

    Elmhurst United Methodist Church

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 8/22/2015

    Time: 9:00 AM-1:00 PM

    Address: 1659 - 83rd Ave., Oakland, CA 94609

    Contact : 510-926-2490

    Hosted by Elmhurst United Methodist Church
  5. Aug. 27 - Kaiser Oakland Medical Center, Fabiola Building G65a/G27 Conference Room

    Kaiser Oakland Medical Center, Fabiola Building G65a/G27 Conference Room

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 8/27/2015

    Time: 6:00-8:00 PM

    Address: 3801 Howe Street, Oakland, CA 94611

    Contact : 510-654-5383

    Hosted by the East Bay Conversation Project
  6. Aug. 27 - Vietnamese American Community Center of the East Bay

    Vietnamese American Community Center of the East Bay

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 8/27/2015

    Time: 10:45AM-12:30 PM

    Address: 655 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606

    Contact : 510.854.7010

    Hosted by the Vietnamese American Community Center of the East Bay
  7. Aug. 30 - Christ the Lord Episcopal Church, Pinole

    Christ the Lord Episcopal Church

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 8/30/2015

    Time: 11:00 AM-1:00 PM

    Address: 592 A Tennent Ave., Pinole, CA 94564

    Contact : 510-654-5383

    Hosted by the East Bay Conversation Project
  8. Sept. 1 - Lewis & Joan Platt East Palo Alto Family YMCA (English)

    Lewis and Joan Platt East Palo Alto Family YMCA

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 9/1/2015

    Time: 5:00-7:30 PM

    Address: 550 Bell Street East Palo Alto, CA 94303

    Contact : 650- 724-8070

    Hosted by Stanford Health Care
  9. Sept. 2 - John Muir Campus Ball Auditorim, Walnut Creek

    John Muir Campus Ball Auditorium

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 9/2/2015

    Time: 6:30-8:30 PM

    Address: 1601 Ygnacio Valley Rd., Walnut Creek, 94596

    Contact : 510-654-5383

    Hosted by the East Bay Conversation Project
  10. Sept. 9 - UCSF Cole Hall

    UCSF Cole Hall

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 9/9/2015

    Time: 6:30-8:30 PM

    Address: 513 Parnassus Ave., San Francisco, CA 94115

    Contact : 415-353-7882

    Hosted by UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine
  11. Sept. 9 - San Leandro Library Lecture Hall

    San Leandro Library Lecture Hall

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 9/9/2015

    Time: 6:00-8:00 PM

    Address: 300 Estudillo Avenue, San Leandro, CA 94577

    Contact : 510-654-5383

    Hosted by the East Bay Conversation Project
  12. Sept. 9 - Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum

    Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 9/9/2015

    Time: 6:00 PM

    Address: 1 N Old Stage Road, Mt. Shasta, CA 96067

    Contact : 530-926-6111 ext. 455

    Hosted by Mercy Foundation North
  13. Sept. 9 - Golden Castle Adult Day Health Center, Palo Alto

    Golden Castle Adult Day Health Center

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 9/9/2015

    Time: 6:00-9:00 PM

    Address: 1137 San Antonio Rd., #B, Palo Alto, CA 94303

    Contact : 619-944-1087

    Hosted by Golden Castle
  14. Sept. 10 - Institute on Aging, San Francisco

    Institute on Aging

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 9/10/2015

    Time: 2:00-5:00 PM

    Address: 3575 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94118

    Contact : 415-750-4114

    Hosted by the Institute on Aging
  15. Sept. 10 - Lion Creek Senior Center, Oakland

    Lion Creek Senior Center

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 9/10/2015

    Time: 5:30-7:30 PM

    Address: 6710 Lion Way, Oakland, CA

    Contact : 925-606-7239

    Hosted by Grandmothers Who Help
  16. Sept. 10 - Vintage House Senior Center, Sonoma

    Vintage House Senior Center

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 9/10/2015

    Time: 2:00-4:00 PM

    Address: 264 First Street East, Sonoma, CA 95403

    Contact : 707-565-5738

    Hosted by My Care, My Plan: Speak Up Sonoma County
  17. Aug. 20 - Conrad E. Anderson, MD, Auditorium Washington West, Fremont

    Conrad E. Anderson, MD, Auditorium Washington West, Fremont

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 8/20/2015

    Time: 3:00-5:00 PM

    Address: 2500 Mowry Ave., Fremont, CA 94538

    Contact : 800-963-7070

    Hosted by Washington Hospital
  18. Sept. 10- Hospice of the Foothills, Grass Valley

    Hospice of the Foothills, Kerby Conference Center

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 9/10/2015

    Time: 9:30-11:30 AM

    Address: 11270 Rough & Ready Hwy, Grass Valley, CA 95945

    Contact : 530-272-5739

    Hosted by Hospice of the Foothills
  19. Sept. 13- Sebastiani Theatre, Sonoma

    Sebastiani Theatre

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 9/13/2015

    Time: 1:00-3:00 PM

    Address: 476 1st Street East, Sonoma, CA 95476

    Contact : 707-565-5738

    Hosted by My Care, My Plan: Speak Up Sonoma County
  20. Sept. 14 - Lewis & Joan Platt East Palo Alto Family YMCA (Spanish)

    Lewis and Joan Platt East Palo Alto Family YMCA

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 9/14/2015

    Time: 5:00-7:30 PM

    Address: 550 Bell Street East Palo Alto, CA 94303

    Contact : 650- 724-8070

    Hosted by Stanford Health Care
  21. Sept. 15 - California State Capitol Building, Sacramento

    California State Capitol Building

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 9/15/2015

    Time: 3:00-5:00 PM

    Address: California State Capitol Building, Sacramento

    Contact : 916- 966-6643

    Hosted by the Government Action & Communication Institute
  22. Sept. 15- Peace Lutheran Church, Grass Valley

    Peace Lutheran Church

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 9/15/2015

    Time: 5:30-7:30 PM

    Address: 828 W Main St, Grass Valley, CA 95945

    Contact : 530-272-5739

    Hosted by Hospice of the Foothills
  23. Sept. 16 - John Muir Hospital, Concord

    John Muir Hospital, Concord 1&2

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 9/16/2015

    Time: 6:00-8:30

    Address: 2540 East Street, Concord, CA 94520

    Contact : 619-944-1087

    Hosted by John Muir Health
  24. Sept. 16 - San Francisco LGBT Center Theatre

    San Francisco LGBT Center Theatre

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 9/16/2015

    Time: 4:00-6:00 PM

    Address: 1800 Market Street, San Francisco, CA

    Contact : 415-974-6784

    Hosted by SteppingStone Adult Day Health
  25. Sept. 18 - Arcata Community Center, Arcata

    Arcata Community Center

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 9/18/2015

    Time: 6:30-8:30 PM

    Address: 321 Community Park Way, Arcata, CA 95521

    Contact : 707-616-8113

    Hosted by Live Well, Die Well: Humboldt Advance Care Planning Coalition
  26. Sept. 18 - The Ed Roberts Campus, Berkeley

    The Ed Roberts Campus

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 9/18/2015

    Time: 2:00-4:00 PM

    Address: 3075 Adeline Street, Berkeley, CA 94703

    Contact : 510-204-9200

    Hosted by Ashby Village
  27. Sept. 19 - Asian Community Center, Sacramento

    Asian Community Center

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 9/19/2015

    Time: 12:00-3:00 PM

    Address: 7334 Park City Drive, Sacramento, CA 95831

    Contact : 415-568-5517

    Hosted by Snowline Hospice and the Chinese American Coalition for Compassionate Care
  28. Sept. 22 - Mercy Oaks, Redding

    Mercy Oaks

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 9/22/2015

    Time: 6:00 PM

    Address: 100 Mercy Oaks Drive , Redding, CA 96003

    Contact : 530-245-4084

    Hosted by Mercy Hospice
  29. Sept. 24 - B.A.S.I.C. Ministry, Oakland

    B.A.S.I.C. Ministry

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 9/24/2015

    Time: 5:30-7:30 PM

    Address: 925 107th Ave., Oakland, CA 94603

    Contact : 925-606-7239

    Hosted by Grandmothers Who Help
  30. Sept. 24 - Rafael Theatre, San Rafael

    Rafael Theatre

    Northern California Screenings

    Date: 9/24/2015

    Time: 2:00 PM

    Address: 1118 Fourth Street, San Rafael, CA 94901

    Contact : 415-473-2702

    Hosted by Marin County Aging and Adult Services
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  1. Sept 9- The Terraces at San Joaquin Gardens, Fresno

    The Terraces at San Joaquin Gardens, Fresno

    Central California Screenings

    Date: 9/9/2015

    Time: 10:00 AM-12:00 PM

    Address: 5555 N. Fresno St. Fresno, CA 93710

    Contact : 559-317-6018

    Hosted by the California Central Valley Coalition for Compassionate Care
  2. Sept. 10 - Santa Barbara Public Library, Falkner Gallery

    Santa Barbara Public Library Faulkner Gallery

    Central California Screenings

    Date: 9/10/2015

    Time: 5:00-7:00 PM

    Address: 40 E. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101

    Contact : 805-690-6261

    Hosted by Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care of Santa Barbara
  3. Sept. 15-Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Fresno

    Holy Spirit Catholic Church

    Central California Screenings

    Date: 9/15/2015

    Time: 6:00-8:00 PM

    Address: 355. E. Champlain, Fresno, CA 93730

    Contact : 559-317-6018

    Hosted by the California Central Valley Coalition for Compassionate Care
  4. Sept. 16 - Hartnell College, Western Stage Theatre

    Hartnell College, Western Stage Theatre

    Central California Screenings

    Date: 9/16/2015

    Time: 2:00-4:00 PM

    Address: 411 Central Ave., Salinas, CA 93901

    Contact : 831- 655-9506

    Hosted by the Compassionate Care Alliance and Hospice Giving Foundation
  5. Sept. 16- Sierra Vista Cinemas, Clovis

    Sierra Vista Cinemas, Clovis

    Central California Screenings

    Date: 9/16/2015

    Time: 9:45-11:45 AM

    Address: Sierra Vista Mall, 801 Santa Ana Ave, Clovis, CA 93612

    Contact : 559-317-6018

    Hosted by the California Central Valley Coalition for Compassionate Care
  6. Sept. 21 - California State University, Fresno

    California State University, Fresno, Alice Peters Auditorium (PB 191)

    Central California Screenings

    Date: 9/21/2015

    Time: 9:00-11:00 AM

    Address: 5241 North Maple Avenue, Fresno, CA 93740

    Contact : 559-317-6018

    Hosted by the California Central Valley Coalition for Compassionate Care
  7. Sept. 3- Center for New Americans, Fresno

    Center for New Americans, Fresno, Holistic Center Training Room

    Central California Screenings

    Date: 9/3/2015

    Time: 3:30-5:30 PM

    Address: 4879 E. Kings Canyon Rd. Fresno Ca. 93727

    Contact : 559-320-0240

    Hosted by Fresno Healthy Communities Access Partners
  8. TBD

    TBA

    Central California Screenings

    Date: TBA

    Time: TBA

    Address: TBA

    Contact : TBA

    Hosted by the California Central Valley Coalition for Compassionate Care
  9. Sept. 10- Center for New Americans, Fresno

    Center for New Americans, Fresno, Holistic Center Training Room

    Central California Screenings

    Date: 9/10/2015

    Time: 3:30-5:30 PM

    Address: 4879 E. Kings Canyon Rd. Fresno Ca. 93727

    Contact : 559-320-0240

    Hosted by Fresno Healthy Communities Access Partners
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  1. Aug. 15 - Nhan Hoa Clinic, Garden Grove

    Nhan Hoa Clinic

    Southern California Screenings

    Date: 8/15/2015

    Time: 10:00 AM-12:00 PM

    Address: 7761 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92841

    Contact : 714-446-5030

    Hosted by Caregiver Resource Center-Orange County
  2. Aug. 26 - Community Congregational Church of Chula Vista

    Community Congregational Church of Chula Vista (Bradley Room)

    Southern California Screenings

    Date: 8/26/2015

    Time: 10:00 AM-1:00 PM

    Address: 276 F. Street, Chula Vista, CA 91910

    Contact : 858-635-1224

    Hosted by the San Diego Coalition for Improving End-of-Life Care
  3. Sept. 15- Chula Vista Public Library – Civic Center Branch

    Chula Vista Public Library – Civic Center Branch, Library Conference Room

    Southern California Screenings

    Date: 9/15/2015

    Time: 5:00 – 7:45 PM

    Address: 365 F St. Chula Vista, CA 91910

    Contact : 619-431-3117

    Hosted by University of CA, San Diego
  4. Sept. 16 - West Hollywood Library, City Council Chambers

    West Hollywood Library-City Council Chambers

    Southern California Screenings

    Date: 9/16/2015

    Time: 6:00 PM

    Address: 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069

    Contact : 323-860-7359

    Hosted by the Los Angeles LGBT Center
  5. Sept. 19- Chula Vista Public Library – South Chula Vista Branch

    Chula Vista Public Library – South Chula Vista Branch, Meeting Room B

    Southern California Screenings

    Date: 9/19/2015

    Time: 2:30-5:00 PM

    Address: 389 Orange Ave. Chula Vista, CA 91911

    Hosted by University of CA, San Diego
  6. Aug. 27 - Loma Linda University

    Loma Linda University Health Campus, Centennial Complex, Room 3113

    Southern California Screenings

    Date: 8/27/2015

    Time: 6:00- 9:00 PM

    Address: 11060 Anderson Street, Loma Loma Linda, CA 92350

    Contact : 909-558-5642

    Hosted by the Loma Linda University Health Institute for Health Policy and Leadership (IHPL) & Center for Christian Bioethics
  7. Aug. 27 - Ramona Library

    Ramona Library

    Southern California Screenings

    Date: 8/27/2015

    Time: 4:30-7:30PM

    Address: 1275 Main Street, Ramona, CA 92065

    Contact : 858-635-1224

    Hosted by the San Diego Coalition for Improving End-of-Life Care
  8. Sept. 26 - Jackie Robinson Community Center, Pasadena

    Jackie Robinson Community Center

    Southern California Screenings

    Date: 9/26/2015

    Time: 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM

    Address: 1081 N. Fairs Oaks Ave., Pasadena, CA 91103

    Contact : 626-840-0592

    Hosted by Community Wellness Services, Inc.
  9. Aug. 28 - New Dawn Community Church, Pasadena

    New Dawn Community Church

    Southern California Screenings

    Date: 8/28/2015

    Time: 7:00-9:00 PM

    Address: 490 Pepper Street, Pasadena CA 91103

    Contact : 626-840-0592

    Hosted by Community Wellness Services, Inc.
  10. Aug. 30 - Our Lady of Guadalupe (Hammel) Los Angeles

    Our Lady of Guadalupe (Hammel), Atwill Hall

    Southern California Screenings

    Date: 8/30/2015

    Time: 3:00-7:00 PM

    Address: 4018 Hammel St., Los Angeles, CA 90063

    Contact : 213-216-1222

    Hosted by Our Lady of Guadalupe Church
  11. Sept. 3 - Vietnamese Community of Orange County

    Vietnamese Community of Orange County

    Southern California Screenings

    Date: 9/3/2015

    Time: 10:00 AM-12:00 PM

    Address: 8251 Westminster Blvd. Ste. 110, Westminster, CA 93683

    Contact : 714-446-5030

    Hosted by Caregiver Resource Center-Orange County
  12. Sept. 9 - Cal State LA University Student Union Auditorium

    Cal State LA University, Golden Eagle Ballroom

    Southern California Screenings

    Date: 9/9/2015

    Time: 1:00-3:30 PM

    Address: 5151 State University Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90032

    Contact : 323-343-4739

    Hosted by Cal State Los Angeles College of Health and Human Services
  13. Sept. 12 - El Monte, CA

    9440 Telstar Ave. #6, El Monte

    Southern California Screenings

    Date: 9/12/2015

    Time: 12:00-4:00 PM

    Address: 9440 Telstar Ave. #6, El Monte, CA 91773

    Contact : 415-568-5517

    Hosted by the Chinese American Coalition for Compassionate Care
  14. Sept. 12 - 16th Street Seventh Day Adventist Church, Loma Linda

    16th Street Seventh Day Adventist Church

    Southern California Screenings

    Date: 9/12/2015

    Time: TBA

    Address: 1601 W. 16th St. San Bernandino, CA 92411

    Contact : 909-558-5642

    Hosted by the Loma Linda University Health Institute for Health Policy and Leadership (IHPL) & Center for Christian Bioethics
  15. Sept. 14 - Alzheimer's Association, Orange County Chapter

    Alzheimer's Association, Orange County Chapter Office

    Southern California Screenings

    Date: 9/14/2015

    Time: 6:00-8:00 PM

    Address: 2515 McCabe Way, Irvine, CA 92614

    Contact : 949-757-3776

    Hosted by the Orange County Aging Services Collaborative
  16. Sept. 19 - PIH Health Hospital, Whittier

    PIH Health Hospital – Whittier, Flo & Frank L. Scott Conference Center

    Southern California Screenings

    Date: 9/19/2015

    Time: 9:00-11:30 AM

    Address: 12401 Washington Blvd, Whittier, CA 90602

    Contact : 562-698-0811 x 12454

    Hosted by PIH Health
Click on the location below for event details.

Being Mortal Community Screening Tool Kit

This guide provided sponsors of local film screenings with recommendations for creating a successful event, including engaging audiences, event planning tips, a sample agenda for the post-film discussion, and more. It is available as a Document Download along with contact information for all the screening locations.