ME, THE BEES AND CANCER (John Board, Hector Centeno, Jim Donovan). 78 minutes. Opens Friday (June 21) at the Royal. For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NNN
Last year the Toronto Film Critics Association awarded local filmmaker Ingrid Veninger their $5,000 Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist. She decided to divvy up the proceeds five ways with local filmmakers who could each produce a feature for $1,000.
Me, The Bees And Cancer is among the fruits of Veninger's generosity. Co-director/co-producer John Board makes the most of that humble budget, documenting his own battle with lymphoma and his unorthodox method of dealing with it.
Faced with what he sees as traditional medicine's uninformed and experimental therapies, Board decides to go the homeopathic route. This involves maintaining a bee colony in his backyard (I can't imagine what the neighbours said) and being stung 30 times every other day, a sight that will make you cringe while you appreciate the courage it takes to undergo such a treatment.
The film is just a series of talking heads, but Board holds our attention. Charming and eloquent, he finds fresh ways to communicate the confusion cancer causes and the inadequacy of established medicine. Wait till you see his Slick Rick-style rap video.
He also owns up to his own comical contradictions, like advocating for a healthy lifestyle while refusing to quit smoking. If Board kicked that habit, he could probably afford to make a few more docs.