Sister Úna Lived a Good Death

Helping others in her community prepare for the unknown even as she was dying of cancer, the ever-unconventional Sister Úna inspired people to live into their death.

Woman with walking cane held in the air while walking on the beach
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
February 5, 2024
Funding Initiative
Open Call
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Par Parekh

Par Parekh has held many filmmaking roles—director, writer, producer, editor, and cinematographer. He co-wrote and produced Benh Zeitlin’s Glory at Sea, and was named one of 25 Screenwriters to Watch in 2020 by Austin Film Festival. He made his narrative directorial debut with the short The Happy, which premiered at SeriesFest in 2019.

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Ali Hart

Ali Hart has nearly two decades of experience using entertainment for social impact as a comedy, documentary, and impact producer. She produced the short doc American Haze for Sundance Now and the 5-part web series Spotlight California for billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer. Earlier in her career she developed films for Court TV.

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The Film

Sister Úna Feeney spent her life eschewing stereotypes. Cursing like a sailor, smoking Camels, and wearing plaid flannels like a uniform, the raconteur was a rule-breaker and feminist long before it was cool. Sister Úna Lived a Good Death is an equally unconventional character study of a wisecracking, social justice-defending Catholic nun living out her last nine months in Encino, California with stage IV cancer and a strong will to thrive. Her unique approach to dying included planning her own funeral (with karaoke), hosting a funeral planning workshop for Sisters and friends to consider their last wishes, and making the most of her last days as she attempted to live for the birth of her beloved niece Sarah’s first child. A former youth minister, Úna used her death as her final teaching moment.

Úna was the self-proclaimed “leader of the misfits” and her special skill was making kids—particularly LGBTQ youth—feel okay to be their authentic selves. In completing her bucket list, she reunited with the cast of characters she inspired, the Sisters of Social Service in her community, and her large Boston Irish family. Filmed through hospice, Úna got her final wish of making sure her approach to life and death could inspire generations to come.