Earlier this year, Aaron Goldenberg’s short film “Til Life Do Us Part” was a semifinalist at the Oscar-qualifying Rhode Island International Film Festival.
Goldenberg’s “Jewish identity” is evident in the film, which is about Barnaby (G.W. Bailey, of “The Closer”) and Timothy (Miles Anderson, of “La La Land”), 70-year-old best friends who make a suicide pact to spite the world and end it all before a disease does. When Timothy unexpectedly chooses to live instead, Barnaby accuses him of betraying the sacred suicide pact, corrupting their friendship.
Goldenberg was born in South Africa and raised Conservative in Orlando, Florida, by religious parents. He said the film is “100% rooted in who I am as a Jew and based on religion, and lack thereof.”
The film’s main theme is about friendship. It’s about the limits between two friends, and delves into how both life and death threaten to tear them apart. However, it could instead prove to be the glue that will keep them together.
“Life is worth living with a good friend, even though there is no guarantee you’ll be together forever,” Goldenberg said. “As Jews, we have such a deep sense of community … being part of something greater than yourself; with what friendship truly is.”
Goldenberg said that although his film was completed just before the COVID-19 pandemic began, he thinks now is the perfect time for this type of story.
“In this whole lockdown …,” he said, “being isolated is awful ... friends are such a wonderful rich part of being alive.”
Goldenberg wants the audience to take away from his short film, which was co-written with American Film Institute Conservatory screenwriting alum Ariane Hahusseau, the idea that “life is worth living” and how, ironically, through death, these two may find a reason to live after all.
“I want people to leave this film thinking about it, and I want them to revel in the fact that they enjoyed a film about suicide … we want people to feel more comfortable talking about suicide,” he said.
The film was Goldenberg’s thesis for the American Film Institute Conservatory, in Los Angeles, which he attended after he was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant after three years in the Israel Defense Forces.
The film has won numerous awards, including an Honorable Mention at the prestigious Prague International Indie Film Festival for Best Student Male Director, and Best Short Film at the Andromeda Film Festival in Istanbul. The film premiered in October at the AFI Fest.
“I hear all the time that the film has a lot of heart in it,” Goldenberg said, “one of the highest forms of a compliment to me!”
To learn more about “Til Life Do Us Part,” including upcoming online screenings, go to www.lifedouspart.com.
SETH CHITWOOD is a freelance writer from Barrington. He recently graduated from the American Film Institute with a Master’s Degree in Screenwriting. He is the creative director of the production company Angelwood Pictures. Reach him at his website, www.sethchitwood.com.