Take Two

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

'Farewell to Hollywood' documents Long Beach teen's final years

by Alex Cohen and Francine Rios | Take Two

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Regina Nicholson is seen in the hospital during the filming of Henry Corra's documentary, 'Farewell to Hollywood.' Promotional photo courtesy Internationalfilmcircuit.com

A 17-year-old girl, a love for film, and a fight with cancer. 

"Farewell to Hollywood" documents the final  two years of life for Regina "Reggie" Nicholson, a teenager from Long Beach.

In the film, Nicholson is suffering from stage four cancer, but there is one thing that always brings her great joy: Movies. When she was 17, Nicholson teamed up with documentarian Henry Corra.

Corra's specialty is films about real people - a skill he learned while working with famed documentarians Albert and David Maysles.

Together, Corra and Nicholson made "Farewell to Hollywood" after meeting at the AFI Silver Doc Film Festival in Washington, D.C., in 2010. Corra said he approached Nicholson and her mom with his producer, and the two were blown away by her story.

"I just knew that I had this amazing, compelling, and in some ways heartbreaking character, and that we were going to take the journey of a lifetime together that was going to be completely transformative," he said.

The movie paces back and forth between Nicholson's joy with the filmmaking process, and the harsh realities of her cancer. It also highlights an eventual rift between making the film and Nicholson's family. Nicholson's mother at one point asks Corra to leave the family alone. But the teen ultimately decides to stick with making the filmmaking process.

"Reggie's illness was a huge tragedy, and I had enormous compassion for her parents -- who were terrified," Corra said. "Like with any non-fiction film where you end up embedding yourself into the lives of people for years at a time, there were times when it was correct to step back and take time off, and there were times when you're invited back in again."

In honor of Regina Nicholson's birthday, "Farewell to Hollywood" screened on Feb. 25 at the Lammle Music Hall in L.A. and Cinema Village in New York City. The film comes to Laemmle Pasadena this weekend, and will also screen at Laemmle NoHo from March 13 - 19.

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