HOPE FROZEN

Directed by Pailin Wedel

Best International Feature, 2019 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival

“I refuse to believe that I have the ability to trap her soul.” On national television, a quiet Thai engineer Sahatorn Naovaratpong responds to traditional Buddhists who argue that his choice to freeze his deceased daughter has prevented her from reincarnating in another life. 

Four years ago, Sahatorn and his family captured the world’s attention when they decided to cryogenically preserve the body of two-year-old Einz after she passed away from brain cancer. Their reasoning? That one day, she will be revived in a future where she can be cured.

In the documentary HOPE FROZEN, it’s easy to understand the fascination: as devoted to Buddhism as they are to science, every member of the Naovaratpong family is a compelling mix of perspectives that are usually deemed incompatible. Matrix, Einz’s older brother, spends his days pursuing scientific questions as dutifully as he shaves his head and dons robes to be a novice monk. The parents, who both hold PhDs in engineering and science, speak about the intricacies of cryogenics with the same humility as they do the metaphysics of the soul, making statements such as, “We cannot say if Einz is dead or not, but we can say that we have parted and it is difficult to meet again.”

The film brings up powerful questions about spirituality and science— questions that feel critical in a world that is increasingly dependent upon and shaped by technology. Though no definitive answers are provided, one thing is clear: the power of love to propel us forward as pioneers, searching for answers in mysterious places. Far from being suspended or paralyzed, the Naovaratpongs show us how to respond to life’s challenges in a way that generates, rather than prevents, meaning, and how to put everything on the line in order to perform an act of love.

Yang Jiang

Co-Presented by Mesa College Film Studies – Prof. Derilo

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