Stories of courage light up the pink screen at Breast Fest Film Festival

TORONTO, Nov. 9 /CNW/ - After a successful inaugural year, the world's first breast cancer film festival is back and bigger than ever. Along with a new selection of inspiring films that cover the emotional spectrum of the breast cancer journey, Rethink Breast Cancer's 2009 Breast Fest Film Festival is unveiling a new three-day program to include additional workshops to further engage and educate audiences.

"Last year's Festival showcased different perspectives on breast cancer, and connected people to each other and to the breast cancer cause in a new and unique way," said Alison Gordon, Breast Fest Film Festival's director and a vice-president at Rethink Breast Cancer (Rethink). "More than 700 people attended Breast Fest, and the powerful stories and important messages resonated around the world. This year, we are building on that success by adding more panel discussions and workshops to inspire dialogue, facilitate learning, and foster community."

This year's Festival focuses on the importance of storytelling as part of the healing process and will include the premiere of Rethink's own short documentary film, About Her. This original production will open Breast Fest Film Festival on Friday night and be screened again on Saturday morning as part of the Words for Wellness writing workshop. About Her brings together the stories of Canadian women living with HER2-positive breast cancer, one of the most aggressive forms of the disease.

"I have been living with metastatic breast cancer for nine years and storytelling has been an important therapeutic tool for me throughout my journey," said Ms. Lisa Rendall, a Saskatoon resident living with HER2-postive breast cancer. "I am honoured to be sharing my story with the other inspiring women featured in About Her, and to be participating in a panel discussion at the Festival on metastatic breast cancer. Through both, I hope to highlight the role of storytelling in the healing process and maybe even make someone else's journey a little bit easier."

Three-time cancer survivor Jonna Tamases agrees that many people who are touched by breast cancer experience the healing power of storytelling and self-expression. Her award-winning film, Jonna's Body, Please Hold, is a dark comedy that uses humour to engage audiences, but also delivers a deeply moving message.

"As a writer and performer, I'm excited by the possibilities for art that can come out of a traumatic event, and exploring artistic ways of sharing a story," said Ms. Tamases. "I wanted to create a film that expresses the fullness of life: the laughter, joy, silliness and power, as well as the struggle. Its a way for me to turn something horrible into something communicative, to invite people to maybe see their own trials in a new way and live a little lighter."

Jonna's Body, Please Hold will be screened on Saturday night, and will be followed by a Q&A with Ms. Tamases. The Saturday night program also includes the screening of the 2009 Breast Fest Film Festival short film competition winner, FLAT. The competition provides an international forum for storytelling and this year's winning film, FLAT, is from Tel Aviv, Israel. FLAT puts a futuristic spin on breast cancer awareness, and the winning film's director, Nitsana Bellehsen, will be available for interview to speak about how film can be used to make a difference in people's lives. Ms. Bellehsen will also receive the Amazing Grace award, created in memory of Grace Cianciotta, and a $1,500 cash prize.

Screenings will take place November 20 - 22 at Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) Theatre, 100 Queen's Park, Toronto, Ontario. Tickets for the opening night screenings and gala are $25 per person, and tickets for all other screenings and sessions are $10 per person. Please visit www.breastfestfilmfest.com to view show times and purchase tickets, and to watch "Feel Up," the new Breast Fest Film Festival PSA.

Proud sponsors of the Breast Fest Film Festival include Maple Pictures, Chatelaine, Global Toronto, NOW, Principle, Roche, Schick Quattro for Women, yellowtail, TELUS and Juniper Park.

About Rethink Breast Cancer

Rethink Breast Cancer is an innovative charity that reaches out to young people concerned about and affected by breast cancer. By taking a breakthrough approach to all aspects of breast cancer - medical research, support, public awareness and fundraising - Rethink Breast Cancer is thinking differently about how to beat breast cancer and is expanding support for the cause.

About Breast Fest Film Festival

Breast Fest Film Festival uses the versatile medium of film to frame and explore the spectrum of issues surrounding breast cancer. This annual festival uses films, panels, workshops and speakers to connect people to the breast cancer cause, inspire dialogue, facilitate learning and foster community. Breast Fest Film Festival is the world's first film festival dedicated to breast cancer awareness and is an initiative of Rethink Breast Cancer.

SOURCE Rethink Breast Cancer

For further information: For further information: or to schedule an interview, please contact: Alia Hassan/Stephanie Yack, Cohn & Wolfe, (416) 924-5700 ext. 4055, ext. 4043, alia.hassan@cohnwolfe.ca, stephanie.yack@cohnwolfe.ca

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