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Donate Life Hollywood Inaugurates Film Festival - June 13

Created to Laud Accurate Storylines, Counter Misconceptions About Organ Donation

'ER,' 'Brothers and Sisters,' 'Grey's Anatomy' and 'Seven Pounds' Among Honorees

LOS ANGELES, June 2 /PRNewswire/ -- The inaugural Donate Life Film Festival debuts Saturday, June 13, at the Directors Guild in Los Angeles, featuring inspiring stories of lives saved through organ donation in television and film, with informative and entertaining panels of screenwriters and surgeons.

"Donate Life Hollywood created this festival to draw attention to inspiring and dramatic stories in a proactive and positive way and to fill a niche. We knew there were people out there who were producing films and TV shows about the topic, but we were amazed at the response to our call-for-submissions," said Tenaya Wallace, Donate Life Hollywood campaign director. "It proves that there is enough drama in real life donation and transplant stories without sensationalizing the topic with organs-for-sale and black market storylines."

Recent research by Dr. Susan Morgan at Purdue University provides evidence that inaccurate storylines about organ donation keep people from registering as donors. With over 102,000 people currently waiting for a life-saving organ transplant and 18 people dying every day because of a shortage of donated organs, these storylines could literally be costing lives.

The Donate Life Film Festival kicks off with an invitation-only VIP reception on Friday, June 12, hosted by Slamdance Film Festival founders Peter Baxter, Shane Kuhn and Daniel Mirvish. Kuhn's two sisters died while waiting for heart transplants. Mirvish's mother is a board member of the Nebraska Donate Life Coalition whose family friend has been living with a transplanted heart for 22 years.

The Festival's four screenings and two writer-producer panels on Saturday, June 13, 11:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., are open to the public but attendees must register at by June 12; tickets will not be available at the door. Admission to the full day of screenings and panels is $8.00; free for the entertainment industry. Lunch is $8.00.

    Film Festival Schedule: (Directors Guild of America, 7920 Sunset Blvd.,
    Los Angeles, CA  90046)

    10:30 a.m.  Registration and Networking
    11:00 a.m.  Screening: Short documentary "Decision to Donate" - with talk-
                back from filmmakers and families who donated and received
    12:00 p.m.  Lunch and Networking
    1:00 p.m.   Hollywood Writers-Producers Panel, "Make 'Em Laugh, Make 'Em 
                Cry: How Organ Donation Storylines Cut Deep" with Krystal
                Houghton ("C.S.I.: Miami"), Carol Barbee ("Jericho," "Judging
                Amy," and "Three Rivers," a new fall show on CBS-TV) and Lyla
                Oliver ("Bones")
    2:30 p.m.   Screening: Select preview footage from feature film "The 5th
                Quarter" with talk-back from the writer and director
    3:30 p.m.   Transplant and Trauma Surgeons Panel, "Ripped from the 
                Headlines: Surgeon Hastens Death for Organs?"
    4:30 p.m.   Screening: Short documentary "Giving Life" and ESPN's "Ray of
    9:00 p.m.   Free screening: "Seven Pounds," with introduction by
                screenwriter Grant Nieporte and real-life heart recipient and
                donor family member. Starring Will Smith and Rosario Dawson.

The invitation-only awards dinner will take place Saturday evening. Donate Life Hollywood's "Inspire Award" will be given to five television shows for aired episodes and for the pilot of a new series set to air this fall. Donate Life Hollywood honors television episodes that portray organ donation and transplantation in a way that is dramatic; show viewers an accurate portrayal of the donation/transplantation process without perpetuating harmful myths; and leave viewers feeling inspired about organ donation. Film festival winners will be honored with cash prizes for the shorts and longer format films.

Among the honorees will be "Seven Pounds," released last year starring Will Smith and Rosario Dawson, for "Outstanding Portrayal of Organ and Tissue Donation in a Motion Picture." "Seven Pounds" is the first feature film to show the real-life pain for those waiting for a transplant and the profound joy of receiving the gift of life and sight.

Other film finalists include:

  • "Decision to Donate" - the story of one man's battle with chronic kidney disease and his friend's selfless decision to help by donating one of his kidneys. Produced and directed by the donor's son, this film chronicles this life-changing journey from the initial decision to donate, through the transplant and beyond, as the two men and their families share an intimate perspective of their very personal experience.
  • "Giving Life" - focuses on the story of Hollie Stanyon Fouts, who became an organ donor as a result of a fatal auto accident just one year after her sister was killed in an auto accident, and their parents' journey through grief and giving.
  • "The Wait" - a student documentary chronicling the lives of four young people who are waiting for, or who have received, a transplant. The film shows the graphic realities of life on the waiting list.
  • "Prometheus Bound: The Epidemic of Hepatitis C" - the real-life stories of people with Hepatitis C and the effects on the human body.

Eight television episodes will be honored:

  • Samantha Who? - "The Job" (ABC)
  • Brothers and Sisters - "Just a Sliver" (ABC)
  • Grey's Anatomy - "There is No 'I' in Team" (ABC)
  • ER - "Life After Death" and "Old Times" (NBC)
  • Three Rivers - Pilot episode (CBS)
  • The Bonnie Hunt Show
  • Corpse Tech (History)

Astellas is the presenting sponsor of the Donate Life Film Festival and IS VODKA is sponsoring the signature Donate Life cocktail during the cocktail party/nominees' reception. "Astellas is proud to be the presenting sponsor of the inaugural Donate Life Film Festival as part of our continued efforts to reach the public with accurate and compelling messages about organ donation and transplantation," said Maribeth Landwehr, director, corporate communications for Astellas.

"We hope this event will bring together the entertainment industry to more fully realize the importance and benefits of including accurate and inspiring donation and transplant storylines in television and film."

In attendance at the Donate Life Film Festival will be many from the donation community - including doctors, recipients, donor families and living donors - and many from the Hollywood community, as well as people who are members of both. "Many people in the entertainment industry have been touched by donation and have come full circle by using their personal experience as a wellspring for their work," said Wallace. One such person is Chris Sariego, coordinator of the Donate Life Film Festival. Sariego's father, who worked for Universal Studios for many years, received a cornea transplant, and his mother is a kidney recipient.

About Astellas

Astellas is a recognized leader in transplantation and has been committed to the field of immunology for more than 20 years. Dedicated to supporting the advancement of care for patients, Astellas continues to build upon its legacy and leadership in transplantation by investing in ongoing clinical research and new product development.

Astellas Pharma US, Inc., located in Deerfield, Illinois, is a U.S. affiliate of Tokyo-based Astellas Pharma Inc. Astellas is a pharmaceutical company dedicated to "Changing tomorrow" by improving the health of people around the world through innovative and reliable pharmaceutical products. The organization is committed to becoming a global category leader in focused areas by combining outstanding R&D and marketing capabilities. In the US, Astellas markets products in the areas of Anti-Infectives, Cardiovascular, Dermatology, Immunology, and Urology. For more information about Astellas Pharma US, Inc., please visit or

About Donate Life Hollywood

Donate Life Hollywood is part of the national Donate Life movement harnessing the efforts of the organ and tissue donation and transplant community including transplant centers, organ procurement organizations, tissue and eye banks, and transplant groups.

Donate Life Hollywood serves as a liaison between the organ and tissue donation community and the entertainment industry with the mission of seeing more accurate and inspiring organ donation storylines on television and in film. For more information:

SOURCE Donate Life Hollywood
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
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