Producers Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix Chronicle the Last Days of Life in I Am Dying for National Geographic Channel

02/06/2015 | By

The One-Hour Special Offers an Unflinching Look at Death Through the Eyes of a 32-Year-Old With Terminal Cancer I Am Dying Premieres Saturday, June 13, at 10/9c on the National Geographic Channel

(BUSINESS WIRE From Academy Award-winning directors Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin (“Undefeated”), and executive producers Casey Affleck, Joaquin Phoenix, David Zucker and Mary Lisio comes I Am Dying, premiering Saturday, June 13, at 10/9c on the National Geographic Channel (NGC). This verité style project explores the final weeks of a terminally ill cancer patient through documentary footage, home movies, personal testimonials and interviews with friends and family members. There are no cutting-edge medical procedures, there are no pioneering medical breakthroughs and there is no false hope of survival — instead, this is an intimate and often unflinching look at life in the face of death. For more information, visit natgeotv.com and follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/NGC_PR.

“Our hope was to reframe the end-of-life experience with a direct and celebratory point of view,” shared Affleck.

Renee Heidtman was a healthy, active yoga instructor in her late 20s when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Through a series of video diaries she made while combating the disease, viewers are able to witness the various stages of her battle as they unfold. At first she tries to treat the illness with holistic methods, then she succumbs to chemotherapy and eventually, after the cancer has riddled her brain completely, she is put in hospice care. Given just weeks to live, our cameras document Heidtman’s final chapter of life.

“It would be impossible to summarize the profound impact Renee had on our lives in just a few sentences, but we can say there is rarely a day that goes by that we do not think about her,” said Lindsay. Added Martin, “The trust and access that Renee, her family, friends and caregivers afforded us was truly humbling.”

At times the footage can be difficult to watch as Heidtman’s body begins to shut down, her speech becomes slurred, and she has trouble walking and even sitting up. Given just weeks to live, her medical providers and spiritual advisor offer comfort and guidance, while her friends and family members say their final goodbyes.

Renee Heidtman died at the age of 32 in her home in San Francisco. I Am Dying is her story.

I Am Dying is produced by RD Independent Productions in association with Strawhouse Productions for the National Geographic Channel. For RD and Strawhouse, executive producers are Casey Affleck, Joaquin Phoenix, David Zucker and Mary Lisio, and co-executive producers are Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin. For NGC, SVP of production & development is Alan Eyres and executive in charge of production is Heather Moran.

National Geographic Channels

Based at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., the National Geographic Channels US are a joint venture between National Geographic and Fox Networks. The Channels contribute to the National Geographic Society’s commitment to exploration, conservation and education with smart, innovative programming and profits that directly support its mission. Launched in January 2001, National Geographic Channel (NGC) celebrated its fifth anniversary with the debut of NGC HD. In 2010, the wildlife and natural history cable channel Nat Geo WILD was launched, and in 2011, the Spanish-language network Nat Geo Mundo was unveiled. The Channels have carriage with all of the nation’s major cable, telco and satellite television providers, with NGC currently available in more than 90 million U.S. homes. Globally, National Geographic Channel is available in more than 432 million homes in 171 countries and 45 languages. For more information, visit www.natgeotv.com.