A palliative care patient’s end-of-life wish was to see the second installment of filmmaker Denis Villeneuve’s Dune before he passed. The Quebec filmmaker and his team rushed to make it happen almost two months before the film’s premiere and just days before the man died.


It began in early January when a middle-aged man who was in end-of-life care in the remote community of Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean in northern Quebec told an end-of-life worker Josée Gagnon that he was a cinephile and really wished he could see the movie before he passed.

“I thought to myself, what can we do? Then my husband reminded me that I could make anything happen. So I posted on social media and we were in contact with Villeneuve’s team within 12 hours,” Gagnon told Global News over the phone on Sunday.

Her post had made its way to Director Sébastien Pilote, who is from the same region, and he put her in touch with Villeneuve’s team.

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“It’s for him, it’s for that man that we make films.”

The film’s producer Tanya Lapointe, who is also Villeneuve’s wife, thought they could either fly him to Los Angeles or have him present at the Montreal premiere.

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“I said, ‘You don’t understand, he’s at the end, there’s no way to move him.’”

So the team arranged to fly out Villeneuve’s assistant to the palliative care centre with Villeneuve’s laptop. “It was a race against time because from one day to the next, we didn’t know if he would make it. He only had a few days left.”

The assistant made it. She arrived at Maison de soins palliatifs du Saguenay, had everyone sign a non-disclosure contract and then told the patient to choose one person to watch the movie with. He chose one of the centre’s caregivers.

“She took everyone’s phones away and played the movie on the laptop for just the two of them in his room. Neither she nor I watched it. It was this really big deal,” Gagnon said. “I was told even the President of the United States wasn’t able to see it before its release.”

She says it was a remarkable and emotional experience for the assistant too. “It’s not everyday you face someone’s death, or someone at end-of-life like that.”

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The man was blown away and touched that everyone mobilized and made it happen for him, Gagnon said. “He was already such a fan of the film and the Dune universe, and was so excited to see the continuation.”

She said the moment was exceptional for him and he loved what he saw of the cinematic epic. The private screening took place more than a month and a half before the film’s premiere on Feb. 28 and its March 1st worldwide release. Gagnon herself couldn’t even tell the story of what had happened until the movie was out on Friday.

“It’s a three hour movie. He didn’t have the strength to watch the whole thing but from what he was able to see, he adored it.”

The man died just a couple of days later in January.

Gagnon said the statement she got from Villeneuve and his team was: “It’s for him, it’s for that man that we make films.”

Global reached out to both the Dune and Villeneuve press teams for comment but did not hear back.

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