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Chrigu Wins Grand Prize at First Ever International Documentary Film Festival on Cancer

Reel Lives: The Cancer Chronicles Film Festival awards prizes to top


GENEVA, Sept. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Chrigu from Switzerland has been awarded the Grand Prize in the first ever Reel Lives: Cancer Chronicles Film Festival at a ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland. Runners up prizes were also awarded to The Truth About Cancer (USA) for Best Reportage, The Art of Living (India) for Best Personal Story, The Children of Avenir (Morocco) for Best Organizational Film and Hookah (Israel) for the best Public Service Announcement.

Award winners were chosen from an impressive line-up of 33 finalists from 16 countries. More than 250 films were entered into the competition.

"We are delighted to celebrate the achievements of these outstanding documentary filmmakers. Not only are they innovative and notable artists, they have all been touched by cancer in some way." commented Ann Steyn, chair of the festival jury. "Their experience of cancer, whether it be first hand or caring for a loved one, resonates with many millions of people across the globe."

Grand Prize winner Chrigu tells the story of a young man who once had great plans for the future until, at the age of 21, an advanced-stage tumour was discovered in his neck. Director Jan Gassmann follows Christian Ziorjen's (Chrigu) fight to live and creates a moving and surprising portrait of his best friend.

"I am honoured and delighted that Chrigu has been recognised by Reel Lives, and I applaud all those whose films were included in this remarkable programme," comments Jan Gassmann. "The medium of film is very powerful, especially in such a complex, personal project. Through film, Christian was able to show people what he was really going through and how the disease changed him. It became a kind of helpful self-reflection for him."

Reel Lives: The Cancer Chronicles Film Festival was organized by the International Union Against Cancer (UICC), the leading international non- governmental organization dedicated exclusively to global cancer control, and was held in parallel with the World Cancer Congress in Geneva. The festival aims to raise awareness of the complex realities of cancer globally, to shatter taboos and myths surrounding the disease, and to challenge stigma. Reel Lives pays tribute to those whose lives have been impacted by cancer, and provides them with the opportunity to tell their story to a global audience through the creative medium of film.

"The success of Reel Lives was truly remarkable," commented Isabel Mortara, UICC executive director. "All finalists brought adversity and courage to the big screen in their own unique way. We congratulate all entries to the festival; they championed the idea of celebrating the art of life through their battle with cancer."

The winners were chosen by a judging panel including: Ann Steyn, president of Reach to Recovery International (RRI); Dr Tezer Kutluk, President of Turkish Association for Cancer Research & Control; Cynthia Gelb, health communications specialist at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USA; Dr Jeff Dunn, Chief Executive Officer of The Cancer Council Queensland, Australia; Isabelle Moncada, medical journalist from the Swiss National Broadcasting System TSR; and Isabel Mortara, executive director of the UICC.

"It gives me great pleasure to see that Reel Lives has been such an exceptional event and we are proud to be the lead sponsor of this unique initiative," said Dr Paolo Paoloetti, senior vice president of GlaxoSmithKline Oncology Medicine Development Center. "These intensely personal stories have opened up borders in our perception and understanding of cancer across the world and that can only help us all in the ongoing battle to find new and better ways of fighting the disease."

Additional sponsors of the festival include PPD Inc., Loterie Romande, Femina, Le Temps, PharmaNet, ESCA, ASAP, Fondo Anglesio Moroni, CAC - Voltaire.
For more information please visit the festival website (


Switzerland, Jan Gassmann, German, 87 min The story of a young man who once had great plans for the future until, at the age of 21, an advanced-stage tumour was discovered. Jan Gassmann follows Christian Ziorjen's (Chrigu) fight to live, in a film less about death, but about living life.

BEST REPORTAGE: The Truth About Cancer

USA, Linda Garmon, English, 90 min

When filmmaker Linda Garmon's husband died of cancer, she began a quest to find out why. Following the stories of three other patients, she discovers that the answer is tragically at odds with the very American belief that if you just fight hard enough, you can beat cancer.


India, Sutapa Biswas, Hindi, 14 min

This film recounts the story of Sambhu Das, a painter who was diagnosed with cancer of the Larynx in 1998 and overcame all hurdles to tell his story. Despite financial and physical limitations Sambhu never lost focus of becoming a successful painter. This is a film celebrating the inner strength of a common man.


Morocco, Bruno Peyronnet, French, 18 min

When a local doctor discovers that 11-year-old Mohamad has a tumour, Mohamad and his mother must travel six-hundred kilometers from their village in eastern Morocco to the capital city, Rabat. The Association de L'Avenir provides a place for children and their families to reside during their treatment. Even amidst trying times, Mohamad and his mother have an opportunity to see the ocean for the first time.

BEST PSA: The Hookah

Israel, Israel Cancer Association, Hebrew, 30 sec

A stylish PSA suggests other kinds of smoking, even the most recreational, can prove just as deadly.

SOURCE International Union Against Cancer (UICC)
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