Netflix Takes Hot Docs Winner ‘Hope Frozen’

By Pat Mullen

Catch Hot Docs 2019’s winner for Best International Feature, Hope Frozen, when it debuts on Netflix September 15. The streaming platform recently announced its acquisition of the film, which will play with the newly extended title Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice. The Thai film from director Pailin Wedel world premiered at last year’s Hot Docs where it moved audiences with a compelling story about Sahatorn and Nareerat Naovaratpong as hope, grief, and faith divide their family following the death of their daughter Einz. They strive to regenerate Einz’s body, who died from brain cancer at a tragically young age and remains cryogenically frozen, while their son Matrix grows up in a home fixated on the absence of another child.

“Especially intriguing is the element of Thai Buddhist culture that sharpens the controversy,” I wrote while reviewing the film at Hot Docs. “Once news of Einz’s freezing hits the Thai media, it proves immediately controversial because commentators worry that the experiment conflicts with Buddhist doctrine. One pundit aptly notes that the process defies notions of reincarnation if the parents hope to bring Einz back to life years—if not decades or centuries—from now, if at all. Many observers feel that Einz’s soul is trapped in limbo and unable to move on from one life to the next.”

Synopsis: A two-year-old girl from Bangkok — nicknamed “Einz” — became the youngest person in the world to undergo cryo-preservation. After her death from brain cancer, her family stores her remains in an American lab. Her head and brain now rest inside a tank in Arizona. Hope Frozen follows the family who made this unorthodox decision. The girl’s father, a laser scientist, yearns to give Einz the opportunity to experience a rebirth inside a regenerated body. He instills this dream inside his son, a 15-year-old whiz kid named Matrix, who wants to be a part of reviving his little sister. But what the boy later discovers will rattle the family’s radical hope in science.

Hope Frozen debuts on Netflix September 15.