Director Ondi Timoner discusses Last Flight Home

Director Ondi Timoner discusses Last Flight Home

August 18, 2023 A Documentary Series Screening in NY

Facing severely declining health after surviving a massive stroke some 40 years earlier, 92-year-old Eli Timoner — a dedicated husband, father and former swashbuckling entrepreneur who founded the airline Air Florida in the 1970s — made the decision to medically terminate his own life. During the 15-day waiting period mandated by the California End of Life Option Act, the bedridden but sharp-witted Eli says goodbye to those closest to him and helps them prepare for his departure as they struggle to reconcile with his choice.

Director Ondi Timoner's Last Flight Home is a heartbreaking and complex memoir about her elderly father in his final days. Utilizing home movies interwoven with new footage, Timoner introduces the world to Eli's extraordinary life of wild achievements, tragic loss and enduring love in this stunning account of a courageous family confronting life and death, and a man's decision to exit the world as he lived in it, on his own terms.

Following the Eastern Region Special Projects Committee’s Documentary Series screening at the Guild's New York Theater on August 18, Timoner sat down with Director Susanna Styron (Out of My Head) to talk about the making of her highly personal film.

Speaking of why she opted to make the film, Timoner admitted, “I didn’t intend to make a documentary about this. I’ve always intended to tell my father’s story, but those are the pages you see on the bed. It’s a script I’ve been working on with him for a decade about the ‘70s and the ‘80s and the airline and the stroke and the impact on our family.”

She also spoke about the lasting impact the film would have on her family. “We felt like we were walking a plank to this inevitable conclusion of losing Dad and the filmmaking got more and more important to everybody because there would be something left of him when he was gone. Ironically, the cameras didn’t separate me… they made me more present. They made me feel safe that I wouldn’t miss a word that he said.”

Timoner's other directorial credits include the narrative feature Mapplethorpe, the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize-winning documentary features Dig! and We Live in Public and the documentaries The New Americans: Gaming a Revolution, The Nature of the Beast, Join Us, Cool It and Brand: A Second Coming. She also directed Jungletown, a television series for Viceland. She has been a DGA member since 2005 and serves as the Chair of the Special Projects Documentary Series Subcommittee. She has also served as an alternate on the DGA National Board and is a member of the Documentary Awards Host Committee.


Q&A photos by DGA Staff — Print Courtesy of MTV Documentary Films

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