United StatesWhen San Francisco, California-born director Donna Deitch cast actress Gwen Welles (Nashville) in her breakthrough 1986 feature Desert Hearts, neither suspected that the two women would become best friends and next-door neighbors. When Welles was unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer in 1992 at the age of 42, she asked Deitch to film the progress of her eventually fatal illness. The result of that process is Deitch's first feature film since Desert Hearts. Angel on My Shoulder offers an excruciatingly intimate portrait of Welles as she confronts the ultimate human fate, and of Deitch herself, as she comes to terms with the death of her dear friend. Dying on camera in Angel on My Shoulder, Welles says, is the greatest role she has ever played on screen. By looking tragedy in the eye without flinching, Welles finally triumphs over a life-long pattern of self-destructive behavior. Though not a film for the emotionally timid pain, suffering, and death are recorded with the all blunt immediacy of a home video. Angel on My Shoulder is a powerful testament to a true paradox: we can only learn to live fully while in the process of dying.