Compassion fatigue is at the centre of Colleen Brady’s documentary, Geronimo: In Flight about a veterinarian’s turn to aerial arts as a way to get away and heal from the regularity of death and tragedy that comes with the job. Although the phrase may be fairly self-explanatory, there exists a common misconception that compassion fatigue equates to apathy. Kate Greenberg, the subject of this documentary, clarifies: it is not the absence of compassion, but burnout from caring too much and for too long.
The 9-minute film delves into Greenberg’s life as a veterinarian in depth to show her life outside of the hoop. Long and erratic hours, intense work, and the emotional labour of seeing animals come into and leave the world. Not including being witness to the grief, and really, the utter humanity, of the families of pets and anyone who brings in animals to the hospital. Fatigue, unsurprisingly, sets in.
Cue Greenberg’s journey with the hoop. Struggling with obesity and stress, Greenberg found her way to the aerial arts, first through the hammock and then, the hoop. That it has significantly altered her life and general happiness is evident in the elegance with which she drapes over and intertwines herself through it. There is both joy and peace; Ben Carolan’s camerawork captures this in exquisite beauty.
At first divided between life at the hospital and respite away from it, the documentary begins to weave the two threads together, assembling a fuller picture of Greenberg’s life, where both of these aspects have now balanced each other out to form a symbiotic relationship. Amir Muhammad’s original score bridges the divide effortlessly, gently enveloping you into the story.
Brady’s editing is just as serene, blending everything together with a seamless fluidity, especially as it ends. When the credits start to roll, do not be surprised to have a peacefulness settling into you. Not all of us are veterinarians, or have equally stressful jobs, but the pandemic has left most of us craving serenity and safety. For nine minutes, Geronimo: In Flight fills that void rather well.
Watch Geronimo: In Flight Documentary Trailer
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