Kartemquin docs continue to impact communities

Chrissy Garcia on battling cancer and the film In The Family

At Kartemquin, we pride ourselves on the impact our films can make on audiences. Long after a film has played at festivals or on television, we hope that its quality will stand the test of time and that it will continue to move people to discuss the issues involved, and inspire them to take action no matter where they are in the world. Here are some recent examples of our documentaries stirring debate and meeting a positive response for their informed and engrossing depiction of complex subject matter.

Milking the Rhino, our 2008 film on community-based conservation in Africa, struck a chord with viewers in rural Utah this week. Selected for a special 'Creative Commons' screening at the the inaugural DOCUTAH Film Festival "to stimulate creative thought about strategies that could be applied and successfully adapted to meet the needs of small western towns," the film and co-producer Jeannie Magill inspired an audience debate on how the "lessons to be learned" from Milking the Rhino could impact their own community-based grassroots movements. Read more about what they learned from the film in the Southern Utah News.

Milking the Rhino director/producer David E. Simpson's previous Kartemquin film, Refrigerator Mothers (2003), this week impacted an online community focused on autism. Writer Anne Dachel at Age of Autism sparked a flurry of responses by asking "How could doctors have got it so wrong for so long?" when reviewing the film's portrayal of the history of the medical profession blaming 'cold' mothers for autism in children. The overriding consensus in the comments is that though viewers were "horrified" by the revelations made in the film, they welcomed its portrayal of an issue that is shamefully still not a thing of the past.

Joanna Rudnick's personal documentary In the Family, about her experiences after testing positive for the BRCA mutation, was also recently cited for its inspiring impact by breast cancer survivor Chrissy Garcia in the print magazine Fairfax Woman. Mrs Garcia relates how "throughout the documentary, we see Joanna as she tries to figure out what she wants, and how she would fight like a girl." Watching the film motivated her to face her own struggle to consider "how much to sacrifice to survive" and to find a community of women at FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered) who understand her experience.

In the Family was also cited by Sue Friedman in a blog post marking the approval by the House of Representatives of National HBOC Week and Previvor Day as the culmination of years of effort by FORCE. In What a Difference A Decade Makes, she states: "Through In the Family, Joanna Rudnick turned the camera on herself and many FORCE members, and showed the world the poignant life of the HBOC previvor and survivor, and FORCE’s role in organizing us. These previvors demonstrated the high-risk sense of self to the world—facing their challenges head on, refusing to be delegated to the shadows, and eschewing the stigma that society places on people with diseases by normalizing words like “mutation,” “prophylactic surgery” and “genetic testing.”

If you have a story of how a Kartemquin documentary has made an impact on you, please share it with us. If you would like to support more more films that make a positive impact, please consider donating to Kartemquin.