Long Live My Happy Head (2022)
Directed by Austen McCowan and Will Hewitt, 89 mins
What would you do if you were told you had a dramatically life-shortening illness when you were 32 years old? Start making comic books about it of course!
Well, that’s what Gordon did anyway. Gordon is a Scottish comic book artist with a big bushy beard, very expressive eyebrows - oh, and an inoperable, incurable brain tumour.
By making autobiographical comics about his experience, he is able to communicate his thoughts and reactions to cancer in a medium and a language that is disarming, accessible and inviting.
Approaching his 40th birthday, Gordon has found the love of his life, Shawn, a warm-hearted and protective American man who lives in Bath County, Virginia. Their relationship may be long-distance, but they talk on the phone every day they’re not together and visit each other as often as possible.
Although his previous comics looked at his own personal experience, for his next book Gordon has chosen to focus on the people who look after people with cancer - the carers. His tumour is growing again though, and he’s on chemotherapy whilst meeting and interviewing people who have cared for and lost their dearest loved ones.
Long Live My Happy Head is a film about cancer and comic books, but it’s fundamentally a love story. We journey with Gordon and Shawn through one of the most difficult times of their lives only to see them emerge from the other side even stronger than before.
Through intimately captured observational footage and video diary, stylized key interviews and animations created from Gordon’s comic illustrations, this film immerses the audience in Gordon’s world, and reveals how art, love and a sense of humour can soothe our deepest fears of mortality and of losing the people we care most about.
Livestreamed screening and discussion
Sunday 04 December, 19:00 GMT
We closed out this year's festival with this lovely film on the evening of Sunday 04 December; the event was hosted by Global Health Film Advisory Board member Alice Hawryszkiewycz, and Alice was joined by co-directors, Austen McCowan and Will Hewitt, Gordon's partner Shawn Puller, neuro-oncologist Professor Susan Chang, and comic creator Wallis Eates.
Panel highlights to follow shortly.