Last weekend’s Donate Life Film Festival brought together A-list celebrities, film makers, doctors, television producers, and other key players in the entertainment industry’s portrayal of organ and tissue donation. The event took place on June 11-12 at the Paley Center for Media, where Ana & Isa held a valuable role as award presenters. THE POWER OF TWO production team was the only independent film crew covering the red carpet, VIP cocktail party, film screenings, and final award ceremony for a unique behind-the-scenes look at the entertainment industry’s impact on organ donation causes.
Person of the Year nominees: Chris Klug, Alex Band, Alex O’Loughlin
Tionne Williams, actor and recording artist
David Julian Hirsch of “HawthoRNe”
Christine Moore of “HawthoRNe”
The weekend began with the opening night VIP cocktail party on Friday, June 11, where we had the pleasure of getting to know Alex O’Loughlin. That night, he received the Donate Life Hollywood Person of the Year award for his starring role in “Three Rivers,” the CBS television series about organ transplant surgeons (watch his acceptance speech here!). The award runners up were also charming and inspirational: musician Alex Band supports organ donation through an annual Donate Life concert and birthday fundraiser, while Olympic medalist/pro snowboarder Chris Klug uses his story of kidney transplantation to inspire athletes. He founded The Chris Klug Foundation, our Community Partner, and uses the Donor Dudes program to promote organ and tissue donation through action sports. Ana and Isa were aglow throughout the evening as they shared stories with these three organ donation advocates and several other new friends.
Chris Klug, Isa Stenzel Byrnes, Ana Stenzel
Saturday: Interview with Ana & Isa
Before starting a full day of film screenings and panel discussions on Saturday, June 12, we took advantage of our own private interview suite for a much needed “catch up” with Ana and Isa. Considering the past month’s trip to Japan and Ana’s back-to-back wedding and 10-year lung transplant anniversary, it was a rich and emotional interview! After joining festival goers for a beautiful lunch event, Marc Smolowitz moderated a well attended panel titled “Level the Playing Field: Social Issues & Story Telling in the Age of Social Media.” Each panelist added great value to the active round table discussion: Daniel Heimpel spoke about Fostering Media Connection: his clever journalistic effort to change policy in the foster care system. Kate Langrall-Folb, president of Nightingale Entertainment, shared insight about connecting the entertainment industry with important social issues. Mark Horvath, founder of Invisible People, shared his use of social media for telling stories and sharing the voice of homeless people. Find him on Twitter and Facebook to witness the true potential of social media for promoting social issue call-to-action!
Panel: “Level the Playing Field: Social Issues & Story Telling in the Age of Social Media”
Festival winner: feature documentary “D-Tour”
As Donate Life Film Festival honors film and television endeavors that contribute to inspiring and accurate portrayals of organ donation, the festival ended with an elegant award ceremony on Saturday night. Our film crew covered a large portion of the ceremony, especially Ana & Isa presenting the award to Extreme Makeover Home Edition for helping a family going through an organ transplant. Additional presenters included organ recipients, doctors, and other influential characters in the organ donation community. The winner of the night was a feature documentary titled “D-Tour” by film maker, Jim Granato. The centerpiece character, Pat Spurgeon, is a multi-instrumentalist in the well-known San Francisco indie pop band, Rogue Wave. Fourteen years ago, Spurgeon received a donor kidney at UCSF; however he is on dialysis once again. This documentary follows his struggle to find a living kidney donor while traveling on tour with his band. We also had the pleasure of meeting the team making Taylor’s Gift, a documentary about a teenage girl who became an organ donor this year.
Pat Spurgeon (center) of indie pop band, Rogue Wave with D-Tour film maker, Jim Granato (right)
Actress Vikki Dougan, Marc Smolowitz, Harrison Held
After an evening of humble and gracious presenters, the audience was supercharged for social issue storytelling. We left the festival feeling inspired- just what we needed for our own fundraiser the following evening! See our flickr for a better look at the weekend’s celebrity appearances alongside the lovely twins, Ana & Isa.