Right-to-die campaign movie is 'virtually unwatchable'

Right-to-die advocates will use a graphic "horror" movie to escalate their campaign on Thursday, hoping a short film depicting the agonising last days of a man dying from cancer will become an online sensation.

The move comes as the Victorian Parliament prepares for its euthanasia debate amid frantic lobbying of MPs by the pro and anti sides of the issue.

The five-minute film, Stop the Horror, has actors recreating the painful death of a Victorian man, 56-year-old Greg Sims, in 2005.

It is to be distributed on social media in an effort to engage younger voters in the debate, as the state's MPs prepare to debate the controversial legislation.

But right-to-life campaigners, who are fighting the push to get assisted dying legislation onto Victoria's statute books, dismissed the horror film tactic, saying it was a "dishonest" effort, aimed at "tricking people" into supporting legalised euthanasia.

Campaign group Go Gentle Australia, which produced Stop the Horror, says the short movie is too graphic for an under-18 audience and cannot be posted on open video sharing site YouTube.

A trailer for the film, which the producers regard as suitable for an under-18 audience, is designed to be widely shared on Facebook and other social media platforms, with would-be viewers required to declare themselves 18 or older before they can watch the full movie.

The film follows the final two weeks of Mr Sims' life as he lies in a hospital bed, suffering excruciating pain and convulsions and graphically depicts the distress and trauma of his family as they watch him deteriorate.

The director is award-winning Australian film-maker Justin Kurzel, best known for the chilling 2011 serial killer movie Snowtown.

The online broadcast of the movie, from midnight on Wednesday, is part of the intensifying lobbying effort directed at state MPs, who are expected to see the government's "Voluntary Assisted Dying" legislation for the first time in the coming days.

The MPs are expected to be then given a three-week break, including the September school holidays, to finalise their positions on the bill before what looks set to be a highly charged and emotional debate in the October sitting sessions.

But with large numbers of undecided MPs on both sides, the lobbying and campaigning efforts from both sides are set to reach fever pitch in the coming weeks.

"Stop The Horror is a short, five-minute film dealing with unimaginable pain and despair," a Go Gentle spokesperson said on Wednesday.

"It has been designed to be virtually unwatchable.

"The film confronts viewers with a harrowing retelling of the true events surrounding one man's traumatic death.

"The film is so confronting it has a stop button on screen so viewers can bail out whenever they want."

But Margaret Tighe of Right to Life Australia, who had not seen the film when she was interviewed on Wednesday, said she thought a depiction of Mr Sims' death without context was "dishonest".

"To show this person dying without having any comment from doctors who specialise in this sort of thing is really dishonest, isn't it," the veteran campaigner said.

"The bottom line in all of this is that you shouldn't change the law to give a small percentage of people in the community the right to have their lives ended because you're changing dramatically the laws around homicide.

"We live in communities where you're not allowed to kill people."

The story Right-to-die campaign movie is 'virtually unwatchable' first appeared on The Age.

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