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photo In The Family
By Joanna Rudnick

At the age of 27, filmmaker Joanna Rudnick tested positive for the BRCA gene, a familial mutation that drastically increases the odds of getting breast and ovarian cancer. “The last thing I wanted to do was talk about it,” she says, “so I did everything possible to forget that I was basically a ticking time bomb.” Yet a few years later, she chose to confront the painful decisions she faced, by documenting her own journey through the unpredictable world of predictive genetic testing. Her choices were stark: whether to remove her healthy breasts and ovaries, giving up the possibility of bearing children, or face a very high risk of dying of cancer. Either option would have a powerful impact on her quest for a loving relationship. “While trying to figure out how to have a relationship and live with this crazy information," she says, "I looked to other women for answers: Linda, as she was dying of cancer, teaches me not to mess with life; Martha works tirelessly to keep African-American women in the fight against breast cancer despite trying to battle the disease without health insurance; Olga, a young mother, is so paralyzed by the fear of getting cancer that she can hardly bring herself to test; the three young Hanke sisters refuse to let different test results tear them apart.

“Politics and the business of genetic testing also played a role. I confronted the biotech company that owns the patent on the BRCA genes, and testified in Washington D.C. for legal protection against genetic discrimination. In the Family captures a time when science can tell us how we will likely die, but not what to do about it.”

83 minutes
© 2008
Purchase $248.00 DVD
Order No. QA-509
ISBN (DVD) 1-57295-509-0
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Reviews
“A sensitive, provocative and important film. In the Family bravely explores the emotional implications of predictive genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancer. It challenges the stigma and secrecy associated with familial disease, while defending the rights of all populations to access genetic information and receive equitable health care.” Elizabeth Edwards

“With breathtaking honesty, skillful artistry, scientific accuracy, and loving care, Joanna Rudnick tells her own story and that of many other families. I have never seen a film that revealed the human side of the new genetics more compellingly.” Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, Director of the Human Genome Project

“A tender, stunning, and forceful invitation to join the ultimate family — the human race. I know of no other film that explores genetics in humanity with such passion and color!” Sharon Terry, President and CEO, Genetic Alliance

Awards & Conference Screenings
Silverdocs Film Festival — In Competition
San Francisco Jewish Film Festival
Milan International Film Festival
Chesapeake Bay Film Festival

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At My Mother's Breast: The filmmaker's mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother all had breast cancer; she grew up knowing that she might be next. An extraordinary portrait of a family of brave, strong women finding unity in facing a terrifying and tragic genetic legacy.

Facing Ovarian Cancer: A Woman's Guide: Ovarian caner is the sixth most common cause of cancer death in women. This ground-breaking program is designed for women who have just been diagnosed with it and includes interviews with leading oncologists, psychologists, nurses and social workers, as well as a wide range of women who are living with ovarian cancer.

Chasing the Cancer Answer: There are predictions that one in two North Americans in the next generation will be diagnosed with cancer. Wendy Mesley had followed all the rules for healthy living, but she still got sick. In her quest for answers she comes across disturbing clues about the role of environmental contaminants, and asks whether, with our focus on treatment, drugs and the ever-elusive cancer cure, we may be ignoring the importance of prevention

One in Eight: Janice was 33 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. This is an irreverent and highly personal look at one woman's fight with a disease that affects one in eight women.

Angela's Journey: Angela is a bright, attractive young mother with two small children, and terminal breast cancer. This candid, compelling documentary follows Angela as she visits her physician and explores treatment options, while dealing with issues of body image, loneliness, and romance — and trying to pack twenty years of mothering into five.


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